CC BY-SA 2.0/EDWARD KIMMEL Ralph Northam (left) of Virginia was one of many Democrats who won elections last week.
It’s already been a bad few weeks for President Trump. Two of his former campaign workers got indicted on corruption charges and a couple more are under serious questioning from the FBI for their possible roles in Trump-Russia collusion. His legislative agenda has gone nowhere as per usual. By any metric he isn’t doing well, but the only metric that matters is what the voters think. And last week, on Nov. 7, they showed us just how angry they are.
For this year’s general election, the two most important elections were the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial elections. Both of them went blue, New Jersey predictably so, but Virginia more significantly. Virginia’s successful candidate for governor, Ralph Northram, expanded on Hillary’s win in Virginia, getting a nine-point win compared to Clinton’s five points. Beyond that, the Virginia house of delegates is looking like it’s going to flip to Democratic control, with at least 15 seats going to the party according to The Washington Post.
The margin of Democrat wins in Virginia signify just how much American voters are sick and tired of Republican misrule under President Trump. In local races where candidates had little name recognition, voters decisively chose Democrats over Republicans wherever they could. In the gubernatorial race, voters soundly rejected a candidate who tried to balance Trump-like tactics with a campaign that still tried to attract moderate voters.
That’s just Virginia. Across the country, Democrats won critical elections. Close mayoral races in New Hampshire and Florida along with county elections in significant New York suburbs all swung to Democrats. This is a bad sign for any Republican operative analyzing results. Voters in the kinds of places crucial to Republicans protecting their house majority next year all chose the other party.
So what does this all mean? First, and most importantly, it shows that Democratic activism has made a difference. We’ve been assaulted almost daily by a president and complicit party assaulting the foundations of our liberal democracy by going against our values on everything from healthcare, taxes, immigration and so much more.
We’ve been subject to constant humiliation on the world stage through our leader’s ignorance of history and world affairs. We’ve watched as Republicans have tried to obstruct and distract from an FBI investigation into their president’s corruption and their own horribly unpopular agenda. We’ve listened as they have rejected science and proper governing in servitude to their corporate donors, selling the good of the country for re-election funds. At last, the GOP’s cynical approach to governing is facing consequences. Millions of Americans angered by all this have volunteered, organized within their communities and voted Republicans out. No matter what happens, this is a reminder to those in power that they are accountable to us.
I think, above all, that this is also a reminder that things do get better. A lot of people I know are getting sick of politics. They see Trump and his divisiveness and think that America is doomed to face this again and again, brought down by the power of the masses voting in pseudo-despots with no regard to the history and importance of our institutions and way of life.
But for those new to politics, including myself, it shows that the pendulum does swing. It is still possible, even today in our highly divided society, to speak to citizens with a message of hope and change — and to both win and accomplish these goals. No amount of political mud slinging or name calling can change that. No president can ever change that.
Our democracy lies on the strengths of our convictions and ideals that have persisted for generations. I won’t deny it has problems. No one can. Politicians pick their voters through gerrymandering, money often rules in close elections beholding candidates to donors and we are divided. But in the end this election has shown that nothing can overcome the simple fact that we choose who represents us, and we have the power to make a difference.
Keeping this in mind, it’s important to stay engaged. Looking at the numbers alone, we have the power to take the House of Representatives from Republicans in 2018 and stymie Trump’s agenda until 2020, until we can vote him the hell out. The only way that can happen, however, is if you all vote.
I’ll admit it, I didn’t vote in this election. I was busy, I never had time to fill out a ballot, I have a whole bunch of excuses. However, if we don’t take advantage of the momentum we have right now, those excuses will burn in the face of uninterrupted Trump rule for another two years.
If you want to see change happen, then stay engaged. Don’t be afraid to talk politics, to get your friends involved, to vote. There’s nothing wrong with being disgusted with President Trump but that’s no reason to give up your sacred right to vote. Research your local candidates, fill out an absentee ballot and vote in your next election. Together, we can end Trumpism and take America back. Nov. 7 proved it.
Sam Mollin is a freshman political science major from Mamaroneck, N.Y.