November 8, 2016 is still a sore spot for many. Images of tearful, broken voters on national news represented the general mood of the American left — the shock of a profound loss mixed with the fear of a future that projected dark, hopeless, and oppressive times. As the results poured in, the nation held silent.
Since then, however, the Democratic Party has proven to be anything but silent. Immediately following the election, the U.S. experienced a historic backlash as hundreds of thousands of protesting voices assembled, and the slogan “Not my president!” conquered the national spotlight. And this passion continued — what was originally written off as a natural repercussion to a major election surpassed all predictions, and after the sixth consecutive day of widespread protest in response to the poll results, it became blatantly clear that a new wave of political activism was mounting.
The impact of this wave quickly became a popular topic of discussion. Currently, many hold concerns that the demonstrations support a faction too radical, and this rise in a new far-left and grassroots movement, characterized mainly by supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), will only work to collide with existing establishment Democrats, increasing internal divides. In many ways, people fear the rise of a liberal “herbal tea party,” alluding towards the tension that arose in the Republican party after 2009.
But while the party demographics may appear divided, one thing still holds true and continues to strengthen Democrats on both sides. Nearly four months after the election, the organized passion, assembly, and widespread energy has not died out. Marches and protests continue to organize on impressive scales. Two months ago, millions across the country and even the world assembled for the Women’s March on Washington in support of basic human rights. Thousands have taken to U.S. airports in protest of the President’s restrictive immigration reforms. Every week, a “Resist Trump Tuesday” is held. The fire of resistance burns strong.
Perhaps this energy is just the enraged result of a truly preposterous election. But maybe it is the start of an active, motivated resurgence in the Democratic Party, one that will spur the party to find a platform of leadership and take back the ground it has lost in recent months. It is up to the Democratic Party and its people to decide how it channels the fire of resistance.
As with all sides of politics, participation is crucial. Even those who cannot vote or select their party’s representatives can still work to feed the flames of resistance. In this sense, the youth too plays a crucial role in the status of politics, and notably, in the future of the Democratic party. Participation, organization, and expression all speak as loudly as votes do, and they too can translate to progress.
In this sense, the widespread, passionate movements across the nation provide an outlet of optimism for those still sore from the election, and a strong source of motivation for many to speak up. Through these voices across the country, the flames of resistance burns on, and Democrats work to get back on their feet.
Local, County, State, and National
Donald Trump was elected as the 45th President of the United States on November 8. If you’re a Democrat like me, you may be asking, “What do we do now?” Many people have already reacted by beginning to talk about the 2020 presidential election. Will Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) run? Or what about someone younger such as Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA) or Cory Booker (D-NJ)? I understand why people like to engage in these presidential prediction games, just as a baseball fan likes arguing about whether the Yankees or Red Sox will win it all next season. But the next election is not in four years, it’s next year.
On June 6, New Jersey will hold the Democratic primary for Governor. Who are the major candidates for the Democratic nomination? If I went around the school and asked every person that I’ve heard complaining about Donald Trump this question, I am sure that many wouldn’t know the answer. If there is anything to be learned from the last eight years of elections, it is that Democrats focus far too much attention on the presidency. At the dawn of President Trump’s first term, the Republican Party enjoys almost complete dominance in both statehouses and governors’ mansions.
Many people, pundits included, have blamed this problem on the leadership of the Democratic Party: the Democratic National Committee, President Obama, and Democratic Congressional Leadership. While the party leadership may have the ability to promote grassroots efforts to win back local and state offices across the country, ultimately that power rests in our hands. The DNC cannot create campaign volunteers out of thin air. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor of our state have an arguably greater influence on our everyday lives than the President. Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) has raided funds allocated for environmental protection while cutting funding for public schools, making it harder for a student to receive a quality education. He has used Port Authority as a political slush fund and spent taxpayer money to fund his presidential ambitions. Our government is riddled with corruption, which trickles down from Governor Christie through political scandals like Bridgegate.
State ratings recently released by U.S. News rated New Jersey fiftieth in state government. When we ignore what happens in Trenton, corruption thrives. There is nowhere more important than your community for you to get involved in the state and local political process. It’s not enough to just know the candidates and vote. If decreasing corruption, raising the minimum wage, increasing government spending on infrastructure and education, and protecting LGBTQ rights are important issues to you, volunteer for Phil Murphy, John Wisniewski, or the Princeton Community Democratic Organization.
When the primaries are over, volunteer for the Democratic nominee. While both candidates have different backgrounds, they agree on the overwhelming majority of issues, and there is so much more that unites us as Democrats than divides us. If we Democrats can mobilize, volunteer, and get out the vote for all of our candidates at all levels of government, whether it be mayors, state representatives, senators, or governors, Donald Trump will face a wave of opposition that eradicates all hope of implementing his dangerous agenda.