To Democrats: “Vote” is not a Platform
Why the left keeps losing to the least competent president of our generation
I remember the night Donald Trump became President. It would be an understatement to say I was surprised. I expected a landslide victory for Hillary, even as someone who navigates conservative circles online and has Trump-supporting family members, I didn’t see him getting nearly enough support to win an election. And then it happened.
And when I look back on that night, the thing that strikes me most is that I didn’t really care. I was surprised, more than, because I would’ve bet my life savings on Hillary, but I wasn’t outraged, heartbroken, stunned, or any of the other words I’ve heard in countless liberal articles recounting the night. And the reason for that is because even though I didn’t want Trump to win, I didn’t care about Hillary losing. When Hillary wasn’t elected, I didn’t feel like we as a country missed out on anything.
And therein lies what I feel is the biggest problem that has been facing the Democratic party for the last few years. I don’t particularly align with Democrats or Republicans — I definitely lean to the left, but there are a handful of issues I’m fairly conservative about. That said, if someone told me I had to choose a party to align with, I’d call myself a Democrat. But, despite that, I haven’t heard a Democrat say something I agreed with since the 2016 election. In fact, since then, I don’t think I’ve heard any Democrats say anything at all.
It seems like halfway through the 2016 election, when Donald Trump started to gain some real popular support, the entire Democratic platform, everything the left stood for, became simply “We don’t like Trump.” Any active proposals stopped dead. Fights for healthcare, social equality, representation and justice for minority groups, every facet of the Democratic party’s actual political stances were totally forgotten, and they effectively became the Anti-Trump Party.
All of Hillary’s rallies turned to her bashing and making fun of her opponent, debates were vitriolic — on both ends — and the blue candidate never left me as a viewer thinking about something she said, something she promised to do as president. And maybe I’m wrong, maybe I didn’t pay enough attention. Maybe I should’ve followed more rallies and debates more closely. But from the perspective of a moderate who was moderately engaged with the election, all I gleaned from Hillary’s side was, “Huh, this lady doesn’t like the other guy.” I cannot remember a single promise Hillary made, a single proposal she set forth for her potential presidency. Her only promise seemed to be, “I won’t be as bad as that guy.”
I sure as hell remember Trump’s promises. Trump would build the wall, Trump would drain the swamp, Trump would make America great again, fix the immigration system, reorganize our trade deals to benefit the U.S. You can argue day and night about whether or not he’s fulfilled— or ever could’ve fulfilled — those promises, but he made them, he made them frequently, and he stood by them. I didn’t agree with a damn word Donald Trump said, but when I looked at the two candidates I saw a woman that stood for nothing and a man that stood for something.
So the Democrats ran and ran with their anti-Trump campaign, no doubt certain that they would win, as I suspect much of the country was. They didn’t propose or promise anything, maybe because they had nothing to propose, maybe because they were so confident they didn’t feel like they needed to — regardless, the result was the same. And then election night came, and every poll said Trump couldn’t win, and almost nobody thought he would.
And then he did.
And in the succeeding two years, instead of reevaluating their strategy, the Democrats have doubled down. “Stopping Trump at every turn” has been their rallying cry. Anti-GOP rhetoric spread like wildfire. The new Democratic philosophy seemed to be “We hate ‘em, we’re stuck with ‘em, so we might as well make them as inoperable as possible.” Of course with Republican majorities across the board in government that wasn’t feasible. The Trump administration has been successful in pushing large parts of its agenda, cutting taxes, pushing back on Obamacare, enforcing stringent immigration policies, while the Democrats have been left like a fish out of water, railing against everything the Republicans do but incapable of actually making anything change.
Of course, there have been significant moves — active moves — from the left during this time. The Women’s March, the reactions to the Parkland shooting and the subsequent protests and political action from young students, the case of Christine Blasey Ford — even if it wasn’t decided in her favor, it raised questions and attention around an important national subject — , and a generally more politically conscious and socially active society have all been terrific moves in the right direction. But none of these can be really attributed to the Democratic party itself. The American people of the left know how to be active, they know how to get involved and argue for their beliefs. On the ground I see constant push, active push, from leftists across the U.S. But their representatives in government — to be frank — haven’t done shit.
I bring this up now because the midterms are upon us and they’re getting a lot of attention. And I hear Democrats constantly saying, “Vote! Vote! Vote!” I see articles on how to vote, how to deal with obstacles you may encounter when you vote, how to get your friends to vote. But I still don’t see Democrats giving people a reason to vote for them. Everything seems to be “You’ve seen how bad these Republicans are, you don’t want another two years of them running the show do you?” and sure, that’ll work for some people. But others, the people on the fence, the people whose votes really decide elections, aren’t gonna be convinced by the “We’re less bad than the other guys” policy. Democrats, you stood on that platform once already, and you lost on it.
Don’t make the same mistake again.
My plea to the Democratic party is simple. Your supporters are active people. They want you to win, they want to push social agendas forward, to prevent Trump from implementing more of his policies, to fight for healthcare, social equality, and justice for all. Stop being lazy. Stop playing victims. Be active, be true representatives of your supporters, give the people that support you something to believe in, and make people on the fence — the people like me — see that you believe in something. Give America something to vote for, and you’ll get your votes.