The Democratic Party Still Works
The Democratic Party worked the way that it should in Virginia this year.
One of the most frustrating parts of the 2016 election cycle was to watch the left completely and utterly fail to act as a coalition. I won't assign blame (been there, done that) but will only say that the party did not work as it should from the top party apparatus all the way day to the furthest fringes of its progressive left wing. It worked in spades in Virginia's 2017 elections.
There was a contentious primary after which Northam's populist challenger Tom Perriello went to work on his behalf. Calls to abstain in protest of Northam's inadequate progressive credentials came to a head in the week or two before the election (in part due to his wavering on immigration in the face of ruthless race-baiting attack ads), but election night came and Northam won big.
"There are many ways to build power. We build power in the street, at the dinner table, in the classroom, in the boardroom. We also build power at the ballot box. And there's not just one way to build power."
"I've had some really important conversations over the last couple of days [...] about the choice to abstain from voting. I think it's really important that we recognize that this is not an either or. That folks have to get out there and participate to secure safety and health in our communities right now. Simultaneous to that, we can be building a real vision for the future that goes beyond two parties and goes beyond 'candidates-as-messiah' but we can do both of those things at the same time and we its so important to participate right now."
Northam didn't just win, he out-performed just about every metric and routed his Republican opponent by 9 points. He carried a fresh Lieutenant Governor and a battle tested progressive Attorney General into office with him and sat atop a massive Democratic tidal way that (as of this writing) picked up at least fifteen state-house seats with five more still in play. From the top of the ballot to the bottom, in almost every race, the Democratic Party worked.
But today was not the end of politics for a while. Today was just a punctuation mark. Democrats are not perfect, but they can only be cajoled and berated and advised and called and petitioned if they're actually in office. Now they are, and so begins the work of holding their feet to the fire. Now is the time remember that "vision for the future."
Ralph Northam ran on a progressive platform and he should be made to stick to it. His Attorney General ran on his prior defenses of ACA and DACA. He will have no shortage of advocacy in which to engage during three more years of a Trump presidency. Make sure he does so. Virginia's State House is now full of Democrats who may not agree with you on everything but they definitely sympathize and, if you call and ask about progressive issues, they will know that you put them there. You've given yourself work to do.
We still live in a country where a man named Roy Moore who believes that homosexuality should be illegal and that Muslims should be barred from serving in Congress is running on December 12 for an open Alabama Senate seat with the support of the national Republican Party. This cycle starts again with even more races in just a few short months. The ACLU is fighting for voting rights, Planned Parenthood is advocating for reproductive rights and fighting legal battles, Emily's List is supporting female candidates for office at every level.
The election ended last night. Politics begins again today. Onward ✊