As I write my last column for The Kent Stater as president of the Kent State College Democrats, I consider myself cautiously optimistic about the future of the Democratic Party.
As Brian DiPaolo noted in a column a few weeks ago, 2018 will be crucial for Democrats. The 2018 congressional, gubernatorial, and statehouse elections are the test of whether or not Democrats can turn the negative opinions about President Donald Trump, historically low, mind you, into electoral gains.
It’s the first chance for the “resistance” to show that we are united, determined and will actually vote.
So far, things are looking up.
A Democrat nearly won a special election the deep-red state of Kansas, and Jon Ossoff has a real chance of picking up a congressional seat in Georgia on June 20th in a runoff election.
However, Democrats cannot just become the party of anti-Trump. The Democrats need to offer voters something to vote fo r- not just someone to vote against.
This was one of Hillary Clinton’s biggest mistakes during her presidential campaign.
While she had policies, plans and ideas, how often did she actually mention them? She turned her campaign into a referendum on Trump’s personality.
Instead, Trump went to the voters in states that are traditionally Democrat and spoke to our base.
Now, did Trump con these people and lie about things like coal mine jobs returning? Sure, but what was the Democratic counter?
DNC Chair Tom Perez recently said, “When we put hope on the ballot we win.”
Respectfully, Chairman Perez, when we focus on policy, we win.
Platitudes and empty rhetoric don’t win elections – emphasizing policies that benefit voters does.
The Democratic Party needs to do some serious soul-searching: What do we stand for? The policies I often list are: universal healthcare, a higher minimum wage, overturning Citizens United, defending a women’s right to choose, promoting workplace protections for the LGBT community, marijuana legalization, universal Pre-K-12 education and making sure the wealth and corporations pay their fair share in taxes.
These are policies that most Americans, when you remove the associated party label, generally agree upon.
According to the latest Gallup pol,l more Americans identify as Democrats than Republicans. Yet. Republicans control all 3 branches of government and a majority of state legislatures.
Democrats need to give our base, especially the millennials inspired by Bernie Sanders, a reason to show up to the polls.
So, I’m pleading with Democrats, don’t become the anti-Trump party. Democrats know, as do a majority of Americans (Hillary got 3 million more votes in the popular vote, and I really love repeating that because it annoys President Trump), that Trump is inept and dangerous. We’ve proved that Trump sucks – now it’s time to show the nation why we don’t.
Anthony Erhardt is president of the College Democrats, contact him at [email protected]