We’re down, but not out.
It has been a difficult two days to say the least. Brandeis University was and still is in a state of shock and disbelief. How does one go about comprehending the once-incomprehensible? The level of confidence that we would be building upon the progress of the last eight years was sky high, but now, that only qualifies to the risk of the collapse of that progress.
Like many, I looked to others to get some sort of sense of what went wrong. In the conversations I’ve been having with friends, family and community members since the results of this election became clear, I’ve noticed a critical error on the part of Democrats: a sense of over-confidence that proved blinding to the reality that this election was never a slam dunk to begin with.
Many of my friends know that I was a supporter of Hillary Clinton from the very beginning. I had always been certain of a Hillary presidency. Although I agreed with much of what he stood for and wanted to do, I was among the many who thought Bernie Sanders could not win a general election against a Republican candidate and continued my advocacy for Clinton in blissful ignorance that many Sanders supporters had legitimate concerns with the ideals of Clinton, the Democratic National Committee and the ideas they all stand for. Like many others, including those in the Clinton campaign itself, I was confident that Sanders’ base would eventually merge with Clinton’s to put together a winning coalition. I was too confident. We were too confident. And that was the folly of the Democrats.
Indeed, we counted our chickens well before they hatched, especially in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. The latter two states had last voted red in 1988, and Wisconsin last did so in 1984. Those three states had been predicted to go to Clinton for most of the general campaign, but instead of ensuring victory through active work, many of us, myself included, relied on polling for assurance. In the wake of these results, I often wonder what I could even say years down the road when asked what I did to try to get Hillary Clinton elected. The answer I always get back to is, “not enough.”
I did my civic duty, and I voted for her and advocated for her on a low-scale on social media. I thought that was more than enough. I will admit that I did not do much else. I did not phonebank. I did not canvass. I did not do anything that may have in at least some little way contributed to a better election for her. And in doing so, I, like so many other Democrats, ignored an unfortunate reality about our country.
We did not do enough. I did not do enough. And now, countless groups now are at risk based on the bigoted, vitriolic and hateful rhetoric of the Trump-Pence campaign. I, along with so many others, now fear for the health and safety of women, LGBT+ people, Muslims, people of color, Latinx, refugees, immigrants, disabled people and countless others that have been targets of Trump on the trail in his America. The rhetoric has always been dangerous, but he and his cronies now have the power to take action on that rhetoric due to the inability of the Democratic party to realize how alienated some of its now-former base is.
I apologize for not doing more to stop the election of Donald Trump. I apologize for not doing more than voting for Hillary Clinton in a solidly blue state. I apologize to my family, my friends, my community and my country. I apologize most of all to those now at risk under the auspices of a Trump administration. I am sorry that I did not do enough.
This is a time to deal with the shock and to handle the grief. It is a time to reflect, but this time will soon come to an end. The Trump presidency starts very soon, and Democrats must not waste any time in picking up the pieces and preparing for the future.
Next time we will do more. Next time we will promote an even more progressive platform and an even stronger set of representatives. We will organize better. We will do more to get out the vote, to canvass, to phonebank. In 2018, the Democrats will win a majority in Congress. In 2020, we will win the White House and set off down the road of progress once more.
We’re down, but not out. And next time, lovers of freedom, happiness, liberty, equality and justice for everyone in this great country of ours will have something to celebrate.