Like many progressives, I’m upset about last night’s election results. As a father, I worry about the country my daughter is growing up in when a man who brags about groping women can be elected president. I worry about friends who are Muslim, Latinx, transgender, and others and what this election will mean for them.
But, as Joe Hill said, “Don’t mourn, organize!” Here are some initial thoughts about where to go from here:
- Solidarity: Some communities are especially vulnerable: women, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ, low-income folk, etc. We need to stand together and defend the rights and safety of these vulnerable communities. This is especially important for those of us who are in not being targeted.
- We need a better story: Hillary Clinton is a very technocratic politician. She knows the nuances and details of what can and cannot be done, and in that role never told a bigger story about where America is and where it is going. Donald Trump, on the other hand, told a very simple story, and he told it relentlessly, “The elites in government, media, etc. are corrupt. They are screwing you and this country. I’m the only one who will tell the truth and take them on.” He told this story relentlessly, and it resonated in a way the complicated but competent technocratic messaging didn’t. As we think of where to go, we need to find that simple, clear, engaging larger story to tell (as President Obama did in his first election).
- We need to reach out of our comfort zones: Look at the maps. If we stay in our blue-district enclaves, we won’t win. Much of the outreach I have been involved in targets people who are already predisposed to agree. We need to go beyond that group and reach fence-sitters who are not there yet. This means, for example, doing diversity and inclusion work in communities that are not very diverse.
- Anti-institutional sentiments are strong, have a basis in people’s real experience, and need to be addressed. From Brexit to the success of the Bernie Sanders campaign to Trump’s victory, we are seeing many eruptions of popular dissatisfaction with the technocratic solutions offered by our current institutions. I believe that part of the basis of this is a real instability from growing wealth inequality, rapid cultural shifts, and more. Falling back to technocratic answers of “trust us, we’ve run the models, this is for the best” don’t address the real anxiety people are experiencing.