A Quick Pick-Me Up

I stumbled across this article from fivethirtyeight.com, from a few weeks ago. The headline: “History Suggests The Democrats Won’t Stay In the Wilderness.”

A lot of people have said, I’m done with Nate Silver and Fivethirtyeight! Like everyone, they got most of their predictions wrong this season, but there are two things to consider:

  • They predict based on polling information coupled with history: they are not the pollsters, and this election defied historical patterns. So the information they use to make predictions just never applied to this year.
  • When they gave Trump at 30ish % chance of winning, that meant it wasn’t exactly unlikely he’d win.

I like how they analyze history so thoroughly.

The last time a party was in this situation, it was the Republicans in 2008, and they won back control of the House two years later and never let go. Before that, Democrats held control of the White House and Congress in 1978, but lost the presidency and the Senate to Republicans in 1980. In both cases, the majorities won by Democrats masked growing party fissures and fragile coalitions. It’s possible — though many historical norms have been shattered this year — that the same thing is happening in the Republican Party.

They do mention how Bill Clinton was presented as a moderate to get Republicans out of the Presidency; what we have ended up with is referred to as “neoliberalism” and is very, very distasteful to many younger Democrats. I don’t know if our way out of this is a moderate.

I will repeat this over and over: we won the popular vote. The numbers were on our side, and only because of the structure of the Electoral College did we lose the Presidency. This means we have voters in place to elect Senators and House representatives and governors and school board superintendents and judges across the country. This means slight tweaks could win us the Presidency again. KEEP REMEMBERING that the number of voters that literally led to Trump’s election due to the Electoral College was in the lower hundreds of thousands; the swing states that he won were close.

We don’t have to remain in the wilderness.

Respect the importance of lower offices – whether they are yours or not. Consider supporting candidates from around the country that you believe in, even when you can’t vote for them. If you need more convincing:

  • Many of the judges that end up determining cases that make it to federal courts (judges of which will be appointed by Trump) are elected locally. Cases that make it to the Supreme Court and affect YOU don’t have to come from your area, either.
  • Governors (depending on the individual state) have a role in controlling their states’ budgets, which determines the level of federal aid they require in emergencies and the resources their citizens have in the form of social safety nets (affecting YOUR tax dollars), appointing judges, and drafting legislation. When legislation, such as that severely limiting abortion rights, makes it through a state government, it becomes a pattern. It may be challenged in court. That’s how some Republican across the country, voting for a judge in his rural county, can affect YOUR rights. Governors also tend to have an edge in Presidential elections when they run.
  • School board members have a role in what textbooks and curricula are presented to public school students; this directly affects the quality of education and can affect the way facts, reality, and history come into play when people participate in electing YOUR president.
  • Mayors and City Council members often play a huge role in managing local housing issues; this can directly affect who lives in certain areas and how much opportunity and education they have. Their votes (or lack of votes) can directly affect YOUR government.

Action Items:

  • Make a concerted effort to focus on your local, lower-level elections and encourage your friends to, also! Democrats are notorious for dismal turnout for smaller elections. Bookmark Ballotpedia and make it your best, best friend, particularly the “local” and “state” elections tabs at the top. I have not always turned out for smaller elections and I am making this commitment with you.
  • Donate to Emily’s List, an organization that has helped get pro-choice women elected to office across the country at every level.
  • Run for something yourself! Especially important if, like me, you live in a right-wing state. If you’ve got the resources, the know-how, and the motivation, consider becoming the change you want to see. A quick Google search (so nothing I have any inside info about) found these resources if you or someone you know is interested: Crowdpac.com and VoteRunLead (specific to women).
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Author: Melissa

Melissa is an artist and half-architect living in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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