Democrats are rejecting the idea that the party must disproportionately yield to the whims of the white working class.
In what was largely considered a referendum on the Trump presidency, Tuesday’s election swept a robust cohort of liberal and diverse elect officials into office. In Topeka, Kansas, Michelle De La Isla, a Hispanic woman, won the mayor’s race. In Charlotte, North Carolina, Vi Lyles became the city’s first Black mayor. In Minneapolis, Andrea Jenkins, a Black transgender activist, was elected to City Council. Ravi Bhalla, a Sikh man, was elected mayor in Hoboken, New Jersey. And from coast to coast, Latina, Vietnamese, and female candidates won elections.
This week’s victories energized progressives and members of the Resistance, the burgeoning liberal coalition that emerged in the wake of Trump’s election.
“I think those of us who care about the rights of human beings needed this victory,” said Lizz Winstead, cofounder of the reproductive rights organization Lady Parts Justice. “The gravy was so many women, women of color, and trans women won that it gives us hope that we are laying the foundation for the America that we all want to see.”
Beyond electrifying the Democratic party’s base, Tuesday’s victories shown, senior party leaders that diverse coalitions can win campaigns — an idea thought to be precarious following Hillary Clinton’s loss.
After the 2016 presidential election with Trump taking the White House, many Democratic strategists thought the Democratic party needed to move further right to accommodate white working-class voters.
In an August 2017 Atlantic article titled “What’s Wrong With the Democrats?”, political journalist Franklin Foer argued, “if the party cares about winning, it needs to learn how to appeal to the white working class.” Many liberal advocates were concerned that, these calls to return to the white working-class would mean sacrificing the civil protections of minority groups to win elections.
However, after Tuesday’s electoral success, many Democrats are rejecting the idea that the party must disproportionately yield to the whims of the white working class.
New York Times opinion journalist Charles Blow touted the victory of an inclusive and intersectional coalition, writing that “Tuesday night’s election results were a major shot in the arm for the anti-Donald Trump resistance and a major slap in the face for all the Democrats who caterwauled last November about how the party had focused too much on courting women and minorities, and ignored angry white men.”
Beyond mobilizing the left and providing renewed direction for the Democratic party at large, this week’s elections have all so stoked fears within the Republican Party. Party power players like Paul Ryan and Steve Bannon, have made comments either trying to reframe the losses or trying to advance a new strategy that would allow them to hold on to the midterm seats after the election.
For the left, Tuesday’s victories provided a much-needed win after marquee losses earlier in the year in special elections like that of Jon Ossoff in Georgia. However, this week’s elections show Americans have been unhappy with the Trump Administration, and that they are showing out in large and impressive numbers.
After a year of prolonged scandals ranging from banning transgender members from joining the military, to supporting efforts to preserve Confederate memorials, to sympathizing with white nationalist, the Trump presidency appears to be showing its first significant political losses.
It’s important to keep this momentum going and to hold the newly elected progressives accountable to their constituents. All skinfolk, ain’t kinfolk. They must earn trust and perform. Moving forward, many political analysts and activists will have their eyes peeled on what the Republicans do with their remaining time before the midterms, and if next year Democrats will repeat a similar sweep on a larger scale in 2018’s elections.