VIEWPOINT: Democratic Party Needs Introspection

“What do we do now?” That is the question I know many Hoyas and millions of Americans across this country are asking themselves in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s victory in last week’s presidential election. For many, the results of the election came as a complete surprise. Through all the ups and downs of her campaign, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s election as president seemed inevitable. We were wrong. We lost. But as Hillary herself said in her concession speech, we should “never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.”

More than perhaps anyone else in our country, Clinton knows a thing or two about falling just a little short of her goals. But if she can push on, so can we. While I will never give up the fight, it is important, now more than ever, for all us who supported Hillary and the Democratic Party to think deeply about how we got here as a nation and how we can move forward.

Four years ago, President Barack Obama won re-election based in large part on assembling a coalition that included working-class whites, including those who lived in or outside cities in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, and minorities. This captured both the popular vote and the Electoral College. In 2016, Clinton ran on very much the same platform and received an exuberant endorsement from Obama and nearly the entire Democratic Party. Yet she still lost all three of those states, which cost her the election.

The Democratic Party purports to be the party of the common people, but the results of this election indicate that perhaps we have lost touch with those who used to form the base of our party. Instead of simply attacking those who did not vote for Clinton, we have to understand why many did not support her, and how we can begin restructuring an Obama-like coalition once again.

Sometimes, it takes a tremendous loss to galvanize a movement to future success. When Obama first won the presidential election in 2008, the Democratic Party swept the Senate, the House of Representatives and State Houses all across the nation. Following their loss in 2008, the Republican Party was able to reclaim the House of Representatives in 2010, chipping away at the Democratic base throughout the country both on the federal and state level. Now, they have a commanding hold on the federal government.

For all of those who are stricken with grief, like myself, take some time. It is important to not rush into any dramatic actions following an ugly and derisive election. We must organize. We must elect candidates across this country that will stand up for the ideas that we believe in. And most importantly, we must be prepared to hold President-elect Trump and the rest of the GOP Congress in check for these next four years.

Finally, Democrats across the country should thank Hillary Clinton for her service to this country. I fell in love with Clinton way back during the 2008 primaries and was almost equally heartbroken when Obama beat her as I am now. However, when she lost that election, she did not let it break her. Instead, she learned from that experience to keep serving America in whatever way she could. She did not let defeat define her, and she kept fighting for what she believed in.

In the weeks, months and years following this election, we should all take lessons from Clinton and her lifelong fight. We should be ready to continue to fight for the issues that we believe in, regardless of the failures we will inevitably endure and the pushback from the new administration. As Clinton said in her concession speech: “Our constitutional democracy depends on our participation, not just every four years, but all the time.”

These words are the bedrock of our American democracy. Let’s make Hillary proud and keep fighting the good fight, no matter what.

 

Grant Olson is a sophomore in the College. He is president of Hoyas for Hillary.

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