Like many of you, I have had numerous conversations with friends, colleagues, and constituents over the last weeks about the 2016 presidential election. I cannot remember a time when people have been more disappointed and shocked by the results of an election. Citizens find it difficult to understand how Donald Trump could be elected in light of his insensitivity to race, gender, and cultural norms, not to mention his policy proposals. I have encouraged people to take stock of the election, take heart in the strength and resolve that we share to make this a better country, and then act!
Taking Stock: Silver Linings
First, let’s remember some important facts:
- Hillary Clinton won the national popular vote. While all of the votes have not yet been counted, her margin now exceeds 2.2 million and her lead approaches 1.7 percent over Trump.
- In Virginia, Hillary Clinton’s raw vote totals exceeded Barack Obama’s numbers for 2008 and 2012, as well as his margin of victory in 2012. She received 21,941 more votes in Virginia than Obama in 2008, and 9,653 more votes that he had in 2012. Her margin of victory was 5.32 percent, within the margin of error of what the pollsters had predicted in Virginia. Turnout in Virginia was down from 71.8 percent in 2012 to 68.9 percent in 2016. Nationally, turnout approached a twenty-year low.
- Donald Trump received fewer votes than Mitt Romney did in 2012, both nationally and in Virginia. His election was hardly a mandate.
- Democratic margins in Northern Virginia were strong: Secretary Clinton won both Prince William and Loudoun counties by large margins, and won a number of districts where we will try to defeat Republican House incumbents next year. Locally, Albemarle gets bluer with every election and Charlottesville numbers remain strongly Democratic.
Nonetheless, we still lost. And the consequences are likely to be serious.
It’s hard to predict exactly what a Trump presidency will look like; he is mercurial, unpredictable, and is not beholden to the establishment wing of the Republican Party. His appointments to date and his promises about the Supreme Court, immigration, and foreign policy send chills down the spines of those of us who desire a nation engaged with the world while it protects the rights of its citizens.
In Virginia, the best way we can fight against policies of Trump with which we do not agree is to speak out against them – and mobilize for the next election. In Virginia, that will occur on November 7, 2017, about 340 days away. It will be a critical election for Virginia; all 100 House of Delegates seats are up for election, as well as the offices of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General. It is important to elect a Democratic Governor. If we don’t, both the legislature and the executive branch will be controlled by Republicans. That will likely unleash a socially conservative agenda from which Virginia would not easily soon recover. It will also give Republicans total control over redistricting in 2021, a process that could lock in Republican control of the legislature for the next ten years. The stakes could not be higher, and our efforts should begin immediately. We’re one election away from becoming North Carolina, where legislative initiatives have set the state back years.
Next Step—Sticking Together
Today, I will begin posting ideas—mine and yours—that can help in this process on my blog on my newly redesigned website. The project is called “Sticking Together: Organizing Productively During Challenging Times” and it is designed to serve as a vehicle by which I will post constituents’ ideas and articles that are sent to me about how we can reshape our future. The only rules are that the ideas should be presented civilly and respectfully. Remember the adage, “When they go low, we go high.” I will try to post as much productive material as I can. Please send me your ideas for inclusion by emailing email@example.com.
To kick off this initiative, I am going to lead a meeting to process and discuss the 2016 election, and debate how to approach the next one. This meeting will be held next Tuesday, December 6, 2016, from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. at Charlottesville High School’s Commons Area (1400 Melbourne Road). I hope you and your family and friends will join in the conversation.
If you would like to attend this free event, please send an email to Erin Monaghan firstname.lastname@example.org and let her know the number of people in your party. You can also join the event from my Facebook page. I hope to see you next Tuesday.