“If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake.” Thomas Jefferson
On Tuesday, Election Day 2014, all that “hopey-changey stuff” took a terrible beating from a raging red tide. Angry voters swept away Democratic control of the Senate and of many governors’ mansions. As we survey the wreckage, we must look both back and forward to regain our balance, renew our hope, and set our sights on the future our country deserves.
Ten years ago, Barack Obama electrified the 2004 Democratic convention with the message that “there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America — there’s the United States of America. There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America. The pundits like to slice and dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too….We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.”
Today, that vision seems to be in shreds. A furious electorate, blaming President Obama for Republican-inspired catastrophes like the 2008 financial collapse and the rise of ISIS (a direct result of President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq) unleashed their anger on Democratic candidates—ignoring the President’s impressive successes in fixing those very problems. Senator McConnell’s cynical strategy of blaming President Obama for the impact of highly organized Republican opposition to all his proposed solutions has worked brilliantly. Mitch McConnell will be the majority leader of an increasingly belligerent and solution-averse Senate. The pessimists among us might be tempted to see Tuesday’s election as the death of Democratic hopes.
But as I read the post-election news stories, I remembered a friend’s inspiring response to the dispiriting reelection of President George W. Bush in 2004. “The day after election Day 2004, I woke up devastated,” she wrote. “I felt a death, the death of my country, as I had known it to be for almost 50 years…. But the next day when I woke up”, she said, “I realized “this is a brand new day.”
“On this brand new day, I will begin the fight anew. Where there is injustice against women, I will be there. Where there is civil injustice, I will be there. Where the American workers’ rights are being compromised, I will be there. Where the Constitution is being challenged, I will be there. Where our clean air, clean water, forests and natural habitats are being destroyed, I will be there. Where our right to worship or not worship is being trampled, I will be there. Where our young men and women are dying in an unjust war, I will be there.”
“On this morning, I will say “thank you, Mr. Bush, for making me stronger in the battle against your unjust policies. There is a new day dawning and I will not turn back!”
As we sort through the rubble of Tuesday’s election and hear the pundits’ post-mortems, let’s remember the President’s stirring words and my friend’s passionate resolve to oppose unjust and destructive policies. Let’s get back out there and promote our party’s ideals, help repair Tuesday’s damage, and restore the hopes President Obama expressed in 2004. So thank you, Senator McConnell! It’s a new day dawning, and we will never turn back.
WNDC Vice President for Communications