If the President were selected by the popular vote, Hilary Clinton would have won handily.
As last count, the Democrats would have lost the house by a mere difference of 5 seats—and that’s assuming we seated no third parties.
Critics of this line of thought point out, not wrongly, that if the system were different, people would campaign differently. And that’s true! But it cuts every which way because more people would vote. If you are in a heavily gerrymandered district in a state where the presidency is not competitive, there are few reasons to show up for Federal Elections. (Of course, half of the problems we liberals have are not paying attention to what our state legislatures are up to, but I digress.) These problems disproportionately—though, by no means totally—disenfranchise liberals. You see echoes of that in the ways we keep winning or nearly winning the popular vote and get crushed in representation.
Liberaldom is convincing itself that this is something we did. Don’t worry, I’m getting to the part where I blame liberals, but let’s get this straight: it was none of the popular boogie men.
For starters, this was not a failure of empathy for or appealing to white voters. There is a party that panders to what white people want. It is called The Republicans. White voters do not, foremost, want free healthcare, college, and strong unions. They want black people out of power and Mexicans* and Arabs** to go back to their home country***. If you are failing to understand that, you are bad at empathy. Granted, they are too, but empathy isn’t imagining how Trump’s supporters might be more like you; its imagining how their rich inner lives nevertheless made them into bigots. White America has spoken: A majority think racism and sexism are A-Okay! Democrats don’t have a branding problem. We have a defective product.
It wasn’t money either; Democrats outraised Trump’s awful campaign by a wide margin. Yes, the Koch Brothers are a frustrating feature of modern elections, but their influence isn’t nearly what your average person complaining about “Drumpf” on Facebook thinks it is. They have the influence they do because they swing conservative primaries and progressives can head that off by winning in November. Except, evidence suggests, we cannot do that.
If you think Clinton was a weak candidate, the facts above belie your point. Clinton won by just shy of 3 million votes, except we decided Montana’s voters count for more than anyone else. Do you know who Montana thought was a swell guy? Trump! Maybe Democrats should run him in 2020! Except, you know, that would be toxic for our brand of being the party for non-whites. Funny how that works. Sanders has whole rants to himself, but if was so great, people would have defected from the GOP and voted for him instead of Carrot Stick Mugabe. Alas. White conservatives didn’t like him at all and he got a mixed reception among liberals. Clinton was not only a good candidate, the numbers proved it.
But Sanders comes up right before I get to the blaming liberals part. Before the election there were a bunch of articles about not “vote shaming” people who thought that a candidate who had talked about gender equality—GENDER EQUALITY—with Goldman Sachs executives was too morally compromised for support. You know what? That was a shameful position. The inability to see the difference between Clinton and Trump is a moral disease of epic proportions. It is the kind of selfish, entitled thinking that loses elections. It is the kind of thinking that says if I can’t have everything, we should smash it and burn it down. It is the willful aiding and abetting of white supremacists who now—thanks to you!—have newfound power. Consider yourself shamed.
Because here is the sad truth: you don’t get people into office through dank memes or, yes, ranty blog posts. You get them into office by getting more people to vote for them. And I know better than most that voting in red states is not always easy. But we must start treating that as the morally compromised position, that the thing too toxic to touch is disenfranchisement. The morally compromised position the DNC has is not making voter suppression its number 1 issue. The RNC is just shy of having an official position that votes for Democrats shouldn’t count. The DNC has largely made excuses because, let’s be real, the DNC leadership hails from safe districts anyway. We start by demanding that the DNC be the party of enfranchisement.
This is not going to be easy and we’ve let the deck be stacked against us. Check your state docket; I promise there are bills to disenfranchise people in your state. Call your state-level representative and senator and tell them that you think it is immoral to disenfranchise people. Make sure you are registered to vote and be explicit: this is an issue you will be considering at election time. But Democrats must stop treating voter suppression as something to be worked around: It is the GOP making sure this is a country run by white voters. It is Jim Crow come again. It is how we get a guy who ran articles praising White Nationalists as “intellectuals” in one of the most influential position in the White House.
A principled belief in voting rights for African Americans helped forge the modern Democratic Party in the 1960s and it can help renew it now.
*A word which here means anyone Hispanic.
**A word which here means anyone with brown skin who isn’t a Mexican as defined above.
***A phrase which here means Mexico or Arabia and certainly not the USA no matter how long their family has been here.