The thing about politics is, it sometimes breaks your heart! Such was the case the last election night for many of us!
Waking up the next morning to news reports about "President-elect Trump" was stunning and shocking. I felt strongly that Donald Trump had crossed so many lines on important issues that the American people could not possibly elect him to the presidency.
His proposals to reinstitute torture, block Muslims from entering our country, kill the families of ISIS fighters, weaken NATO, offering a green light to more proliferation of nuclear weapons... these were thoughtless and dangerous positions. Couple them with his disgusting five-year campaign to undermine President Obama by alleging he was not an American citizen and therefore not a legitimate president, and I was convinced that he wouldn't be seriously considered when people made their choice in the privacy of the voting booth.
Boy, was I wrong!
Because of the campaign he ran, many are now worried about the threat he poses to the rights of many Americans. Women's rights, gay rights, workers rights, voting rights... all will be threatened by the Trump promise to nominate far-right conservatives to the Supreme Court. And there is worry that his election will also be a threat to those Americans who benefit from important programs like the Affordable Care Act, the Medicaid and Medicare programs and so much more.
But, sad, and upset as I was about the election result, it is over!
Donald Trump will assume the presidency. And all of us should hope he succeeds. We all want our country to do well, and we should want to help make that happen.
However, if the new president pursues the agenda that I described above, it is also important to be prepared to wage a strong and aggressive fight to prevent those things that we believe undermine traditional American values.
Attempts to reinstitute torture, banning Muslims, weakening NATO, limiting the gains that have been made in rights for women, gays and other minorities... these are not negotiable issues. If proposed, we have to be ready to wage the fight.
Our campaign fell short!
Frankly, the campaign waged by Democrats fell short of what we need to do to reach out to the voters that have always counted on us to be on their side.
Democrats have been the ones leading the fight for better jobs with decent pay and benefits and more security for working families. We stand for policies that expand the economy and expand opportunity. But it was hard to find a message in this campaign that energized or inspired working families on the things they care about most.
Hillary had some flaws as a candidate including her use of a private email server as Secretary of State for which she apologized. But some other events conspired against her as well. The unprecedented and unwise actions by the FBI Director in the middle of a campaign were an outrage. The Russian hacking and the release through WikiLeaks of stolen private emails was criminal. Our U.S. intelligence agencies said it was specifically designed to interfere with the U.S. election. The Russians apparently only released stolen information they felt could damage the democratic candidate. That interference in our national election by the Russians should send a shiver down the spine of every American citizen.
In the aftermath of the election, the losing political party has to understand what happened and take steps that can lead to a different result in the next election.
We can't run the world if we don't show up!
That sea of red on the election night map should remind democrats where they will find workers, farmers and main street businesses who are waiting for a response from democrats that will connect them to a better future. In some states the democrat campaign never showed up in 2016. It can't be called a national campaign if you skip big parts of the country.
A wise old campaign consultant used to say, "you pick cherries where cherries is". We know where farmers and worker live and we know what they are looking for. They want to know that somebody is going to be on their side. They are tired of hearing that losing jobs is the road to progress. They know better.
My book, "Take This Job and Ship It," described the story of a journalist who was covering the death of FDR.
He noticed a long line of mourners who were waiting to pay their respects to the President whose body was lying in state in the U.S. Capitol.
The journalist saw a worker waiting patiently in line with his hat in his hand and a tear in his eye. He asked the worker, "did you know President Roosevelt?
The worker replied, "No, but he knew me!
That story speaks volumes. Who knows working families today? Who is fighting for their best interests? The connection that existed with President Roosevelt and American workers does not exist today. We need to fix that!
Let's get back to work!
So, now we need to get back to work organizing and advocating for the things we know will strengthen our country. We need to recapture the roots of our political party. If we are a national political party we have to run national campaigns. Show up and speak up all across America!
There is an oft-told story about Joe Hill (a labor organizer) who was facing a Utah firing squad for a murder that most think he did not commit. When he was led before the firing squad, he was asked if he had any last words. He said, "Sure, tell the boys to organize."
It's good advice that stands the test of time. When the sun comes up the morning after a disappointing election, it time to move on and organize for the next opportunity to create a better result.
There will be another election. The Constitution guarantees it. And it is our hands to do the things necessary to be able to celebrate next time.
It's a new day! And I intend to enjoy it, and move ahead to keep working on things that will make our country better.