Donald Trump Lost, But Our Work Is Just Beginning

Robert Crohan/Staff Writer

Well folks, we did it. Come January 21, 2021, Donald Trump will be president no more.

It took the incredible dedication, sacrifice and hard work of countless forward-thinking Americans to spread the word of the dangers the president posed to our country and kick him to the curb. For this, I say thank you, and I wish the country could give everyone their fair return.

But that’s where the next step comes in.

Electing Joe Biden was not easy, and is certainly great for many of us, but I understand that many Americans merely voted for Biden to get rid of Trump and did not prefer Biden over other Democratic challengers. And this makes very much sense, as he portrayed himself as a tame, bipartisan alternative to the louder voices coming from the left, which frustrated many.

Not helping is that the blue wave I predicted would not be realized: Democrats won the White House, but lost seats in the House of Representatives and failed to capture the Senate. If the Democratic Party fails to win both Georgia Senate runoffs, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will more than likely grind our institutions to a halt, simply blocking just about everything because he does not believe in democracy.

Our work is just beginning. The fight for a green future, living wages, public investment, expanded healthcare access and racial justice is far from over.

With all this being said, our work is just beginning. The fight for a green future, living wages, public investment, expanded healthcare access and racial justice is far from over. Joe Biden will do what he can to help make progress, but this is no guarantee, and we must do some of the work for him. Change is not coming overnight.

Biden primarily ran on reaching out to disaffected Republicans, a move I commend as we desperately need unity. However, something I did not realize that my peers to the left of me have pointed out, is that this victory left out many of the more disaffected who are on the front lines of the progressive movement: the women of color, the indigenous, the Cuban Americans who fled socialism and the young climate activists. These activists ultimately contributed as much, if not more, to Biden’s win than anti-Trump Republicans.

In order to win, these people must have their voices heard. We must strike a balance, as going too far in this direction boosts the Republican red scare, but we must educate and make clear that we do not want Castro’s Cuba: we want progressive Scandinavia, where the social safety net is strong and elected officials respect our Constitution instead of violating it, as Trump did.

Therefore, candidates must appeal to voters with genuine words to not just bring out the vote, but also hear what those left behind have to say. They must campaign with the mindset that the vote is a cherished gift to be earned, not an automatic entitlement, especially from the marginalized. It nearly worked for Andrew Gillum, Stacey Abrams and Beto O’Rourke. It created the massive armies of dedicated volunteers for Andrew Yang and Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

Indeed, activists like Abrams and O’Rourke have proven incredibly effective at registering voters and inspiring others to get involved in politics.

Additionally, we cannot get quiet. As the saying goes, well-behaved women rarely make history. And I was concerned that the Black Lives Matter protests would stop when the original Civil Rights marches lasted much longer. We must continue to organize and make our voices heard, loud and clear. Those facing the worst of climate change, inequality and the housing crisis are counting on us, and with enough of a presence, Washington leaders may finally cave in and lend President Biden a helping hand. If they refuse, we will kick them where it hurts, in the ballot.

Undoing institutional racism and sexism is incredibly difficult, so let’s continue to protest gentrification and police brutality. Let’s spend less on already well-funded police and invest in communities. Let’s buy from black-owned businesses. And most of all, let’s realize that local elections truly matter: local officials must listen and understand the dangers everyday constituents face. Everyone, if they can, should find a way to help.

If you have time but no money, go canvassing. If you have money and no time, donate a bunch.

Democrats have always opted to wait until election month to reach out to voters while assuming that demographics are destiny.

Just look at Florida, where a string of Democratic losses has turned the sunshine state into a sunburned red stronghold. Democrats have always opted to wait until election month to reach out to voters while assuming that demographics are destiny. A new path forward is needed, with leaders like State Rep. Anna V. Eskamani (D-Orlando) pointing out that a liberal campaign that wins even in Trump precincts doesn’t come easy. It takes work, genuine connections and real policy initiatives that serve the people. Perhaps most importantly, it is a year-round effort.

A model to follow is that set by activists in Georgia, who put in the necessary time and effort to make liberal politics mainstream and appealing while managing to turn a once deep red state into a purple one. This is without abandoning the demands of progressive activists.

The Democratic Party itself must take activists seriously without completely sacrificing itself. Popular policies like the legalization of marijuana and the expansion of healthcare should become mainstream to help the party become more popular again. If it continues to pursue only moderate policy, the public will lose interest and see little point in voting.

Finally, given the tendency of Republican Senators to engage in blatant obstruction, we must make it clear to the American people that any lack of progress is the fault of Mitch McConnell, not Joe Biden, a craft negotiator. It is the Democrats who seek reforms for the people. If we fail, 2022 could look like 2014, where voters blamed McConnell’s gridlock on President Obama and elected new Republicans. Should the Republicans repeal Obamacare, we can give them a blue wave in 2022.

It is clear that there remains an array of hardships ahead, of varying magnitudes and requiring different strategies. But this do-nothing status quo is not going down without a fight, and while President-elect Biden represents a step of progress, there is so much ahead that his election is merely a drop in the bucket of change. With too many issues to address, we absolutely must build a safer, stronger, and more compassionate America.

We all have a role to play, so let’s get started!


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

Photo by Matt Wiebe on Flickr.

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