Post-Election: Progressive Values Needed
This past election in November did not go the way many progressive Democrats would have liked. I know I am one of many who were deeply disappointed in the results along with the voter turnout. Specifically in Iowa, nearly all of our candidates lost.
The Iowa House stayed in the control of the Republicans and the Iowa Senate fortunately took another seat and is Democratic plus one. Federally, the House will have nearly a super majority of Republicans (250) and the Senate will be in the control of the Republicans (55).
However, if you look at the states you might see a different story. For instance, in the two states where ‘Personhood’ amendments were on the ballot they were rejected. They were not simply rejected, but by wide margins. The amendments were on the ballots in Colorado and North Dakota. Colorado voters rejected ‘Personhood’ by about 64% to 36% and North Dakota by 64.1% to 35.9%. In Colorado this was the third time voters took the issue up and rejected it. It lost in 2008 and 2010.
In addition, progressive policies such as raising the minimum wage, paid sick days, and paid family and medical leave were approved by the voters in the states. In all five (Alaska, Arkansa, Nebraska, Illinois, South Dakota, and the District of Columbia (D.C.)) states and D.C. that had the minimum wage on the ballot, it passed. In Massachusetts, Oakland, California, and Montclair and Trenton, New Jersey voters approved paid sick days.
It is my belief that with these results and the results of polls such as the poll by the National Partnership for Women & Families and the Rockefeller Family Fund that one of the major faults in the 2014 campaigns is the lack of positions and debate of policies that promote economic security for families. To be specific, I mean paid sick days, paid family and medical leave, fair pay, such as the Paycheck Fairness Act, and the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.
The poll found that 81% of voters said it is important for lawmakers to consider new laws that help keep working families economically secure. With 57% indicating that it is “very important” that they do so. Additional key findings indicate that there are strong support for family friendly policies across party and demographic lines. Such as 96% of Democrats, 73% of Republicans, 87% of women, 75% of men, 95% of voters under 30, 97% of African Americans, and 95% of Latinos. In addition, of all candidates running for Governor, U.S. Senate, and U.S. House only 23% featured their positions on these policies.
It is my opinion that a part of the reason so many of the Democrats lost is because the campaigns seemed to be focused around what we are not but forgetting to run on what we are for. I felt that many Democrats did not have a backbone when it came to Democratic Party principles. It seemed as though many candidates were running campaigns saying,
“Hey, I’m a Democrat, vote for me because I’m a Democrat.”
I also felt campaigns telling people to just fall in line and vote for a party instead of the candidate. That is not something voters under 30 like to hear and will turn them off. I felt that the way some of these so-called coordinated campaigns were run didn’t do a good job at relating to the people in their community and acknowledging them, which in turn may have led to the lack of youth and minority interest.
Most importantly, I believe the problem was not having strong progressive platforms on women’s and family issues and standing strong for those positions, defending them, and making them public.
Many of these issues have have broad support and are winnable. Not to forget how vital they are to the working class and families to ensure their economic security. This area is one that the Democratic Party can and must improve on. These policies have even been instituted by nearly every industrialized nation in the world except the U.S. (NYTimes) Not to mention, how ensuring our candidates include them and support them proudly could motivate young adults to be more interested in our candidates. For they could feel and see them fighting for their needs as many of them would currently apply.