It has been written that the meek shall inherit the earth. As the election has shown, millions of those meek cannot wait for their kingdom to come any longer. The Democrats’ shocking loss to Donald Trump has left many of us scratching our heads and scrambling to find answers.
The Democrats lost because they ignored people. Trump’s supporters claim that he had given them a voice — and they’re right. Trump’s whole campaign was not built around a glorious American rebirth, but instead reaching out to a marginalized section of the populace that felt stifled by the changing world around them.
That’s not to whitewash Trump’s campaign. There are plenty of malcontents among his supporters that seek to not only normalize, but propagate hatred. Despite this, there still remains the issue that a great deal of people who don’t consider themselves racist or intolerant voted for Trump. As long as their grievances remain unaddressed, they’ll continue to find fault with the system and just vote for someone like Trump again.
Many of Trump’s supporters view the Democratic Party as untrustworthy and sycophantic; a hive of bloated and stagnant manipulators who gain victory by playing with identity politics and are willing to demonize even the tiniest of dissenters. Despite being steeped in exaggeration and fear-mongering, there’s still a little bit of truth to these words.
A 2015 article from The Atlantic contends that the party would often overlook competence in favor of choosing a candidate who would be more appealing to their diverse voter base. This isn’t to say that diversity in politics is not a good thing; it is essential to introducing different aspects on key issues that hurt the nation. However, it should never be done simply to curry favor.
In order for the Democrats to salvage their party and build themselves up properly they have a lot to learn. For far too long they have been playing a zero-sum, winner take all game. They’ve been going at such a mad, slapdash rate to get elected that they’ve forgotten that sometimes it’s just as important to slow down and get someone else’s opinion on the matters.
That means that the Democrats need to be patient and engage in dialogue with people. Especially the people from the party that won. It’s definitely not going to be easy. I’ve lost people I once thought of as friends because of a refusal to listen. But this is the sort of communication breakdown that prevents reconciliation and healing. So instead of taking some righteous stand against an ideology, instead sit down and talk to the people. Listen to their concerns and what sort of problems are on their mind, and come up with ways to fix those problems.
Another thing they have to do is to stop cannibalizing themselves in the name of status quo. If you need proof, then look no further than their abandonment of Bernie Sanders in favor of the more conventional Hillary Clinton. People really don’t want more of the same; they want things to get better and that’s why they’ll jump for anyone that promises change. That’s how Barack Obama did it, that’s how Trump is doing it, and that’s how the Democrats have to do it if they want to win another election.
The Democrats shouldn’t focus just on issues of identity politics, but issues that everyone can agree that they are concerned towards. Such issues include things like poverty and systemic corruption — all of which threaten basic human prosperity.
Only this time it has to be marked by sincerity. Return to a purer ideology, one based off of actually following democratic ideals. Don’t marginalize people, listen to them. Don’t prop up champions of stasis, but instead choose people who are willing to take a chance and make a change.
Former American president Franklin Delano Roosevelt said that “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” and I believe that. If we allow ourselves to be ruled by fear of the other and a reluctance to engage in open conversation, then we as a society will never be able to become something greater.