Also published on the Good Men Project and can be found here.
We are almost three weeks removed from the election and whether you have come to terms with the results or not, it is necessary we look towards the future and try to find solutions in what appears to be a problematic political landscape.
This past election season was a big shift away from establishment party politics. Bernie Sander’s campaign was a testament to that and obviously Donald Trump was as well, although in the past few years the Republican establishment has been more of an enigma than any set of concrete ideas.
Looking back at patterns of history, this shift shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. The proclamation of a Washington “outsider” is a highly successful campaign strategy that has been used quite frequently. This strategy is usually most successful during or directly after periods of stress and uncertainty.
The cold war tensions of the late ‘50s led John F. Kennedy to the white house as he campaigned on the necessity of new blood and the failures of the old guard. Carter’s outsider strategy came on the heels of Watergate, and Reagan’s on the recession and energy crisis of the ‘70s.
President Obama’s path to the white house was much similar to JFK’s, the causes and conditions looking a little different.
When Obama first took office in 2008, I was coming up on the cusp of adulthood. It was like a light came on in the darkness. The financial crisis we were going through had put burdens on my family and nearly everyone around me and I had grown up most of my life with my country tangled up in two wars. I was a year too young to be eligible to vote, but most of my friends were of age, and Obama was overwhelmingly successful with young people.
The last eight years were pretty good from my point of view. It seemed that we had recovered from the recession. The economy was steadily improving. My friends and family were doing much better than they were eight years ago.
But this observation comes from my coastal-centric mind. I grew up in the Northeast, and moved to California towards the end of the Obama administration. Although I traveled through parts of the South and Midwest, it was not for any significant amount of time. At least not enough to break the perception bias I was suffering from.
A large swath of the population struggled mightily the last eight years. If you live on one of the coasts, it may have been harder to see, but many never really recovered from the 2008 financial crisis. History proved again to repeat itself and hindsight being 20/20 it’s easy to now see the flaw of the Hillary Clinton candidacy.
So now we lie in the wake of the election, many still in a state of bewilderment. The Democrats look to the future and plan for the 2018 midterms and 2020 election, wondering which direction they should go.
A smart solution would be to put forth the exciting, charismatic candidates that the Democrats usually put on the national stage. JFK, Obama, and Bill Clinton all had these qualities. They received large support from younger generations because we can relate to them. They aren’t just old white guys far removed from us, high up in their castles.
Mimicry is one of the great adaptors of behavior in nature. Species mimic characteristics of other species to be successful. Democrats need to take a lesson from Mother Nature and rip a page out of the Bernie Sander’s playbook.
Somewhere along the way the elitists hijacked the Democratic Party. They left the little guy behind, and forgot that people vote in states other than California and New York.
The Sanders campaign put the corporations, dark money, and elitists in their sights with the same fervor the people do. In a political era where money buys elections, he refused to take their money! Instead he funded his entire campaign from small, transparent donations. He made it clear he would go after Wall Street and eradicate the parasite that is dark money from politics.
He had widespread support from young people, minorities, and working class folks because he talked about issues that no other candidates were willing to talk about. 99% of us will never be part of any hedge fund or super pac. Guys like us were feeling like our power in the democratic process was only getting smaller, while the minority one percent at the top was gaining power. Sanders excited us and empowered us. That’s what made Democratic candidates great in the past, and it is what we need now.
I don’t say any of this as an “I told you so”, but rather as a path towards a solution based on the lessons of the past.
The good news is Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and their messages aren’t going anywhere. They’ve thrown their support for DNC chair behind Keith Ellison, an exciting young representative from Minnesota who shares many of their same values.
A candidate I have a strong admiration for, and will gain a lot of momentum the next four years is Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey. Prior to filling Frank Lautenberg’s vacant Senate seat, Booker was mayor of Newark, New Jersey.
The trajectory of the Democratic Party looks good. Bernie Sanders campaign as an outsider and a critic of the establishment was extremely successful. There are young, exciting candidates like Keith Ellison and Cory Booker who will gain significant traction the next four years. I believe there will be successful movements towards grassroots fundraising and organization, which will help to lesson the grip big corporations have on politics.
That is something that’s good for all of us, whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat.