A Year Later, Democrats Roar Back

A year ago, I woke up dazed and confused about what had just happened in the 2016 presidential election.

It wasn’t just Donald Trump’s unexpected win over Hillary Clinton, but the year of political rancor and division that had set me adrift. I have friends and colleagues, mostly those who — quite properly — viewed Clinton’s defeat as a bitter reflection of their own encounters with sexism, and who still haven’t recovered from the shock and bitterness of that night. I have other friends, mostly those who supported Sanders in the primary season, who haven’t recovered from their anger about that defeat. Although I too supported Sanders in the primary season, and think of myself as a card-carrying member of the left, I continue to be puzzled at many of these friends’ intolerance for compromise within the Democratic party. It is as if they have sheared away from the realities of political history in the United States, a country that has never, even in its moments of most significant reform, embraced governance from the left.

As last night’s Democratic victories in New Jersey and Virginia rolled in, I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. That light is coming, not from a revolution, but from the people who woke up last November, rolled up their sleeves, and got to work. It’s coming from the women of Greenwich, Connecticut, newcomers to politics who ran for town council in unprecedented numbers. It’s coming from Maine voters, who were determined to bring 80,000 more of their neighbors into Medicare, bypassing Governor Paul LePage’s multiple vetoes with a referendum to expand the Affordable Care Act in their state.

It’s coming from Danica Roem, the first openly transgender candidate to be elected to a state legislature…..

For the rest of this essay, originally published onNovember 8 2017, go to Public Seminar.

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