Last Thursday, Hillary Clinton accepted the nomination for the Democratic Party. I was lucky enough to be there and feel the atmosphere. Hearing the yelling and screaming made me all the more enthusiastic to cast my ballot for Hillary in November. While Hillary is not the most charismatic speaker in the world, and I don’t think anyone would compare her oratory abilities to the energy that Barack Obama and Bill Clinton are able to create when they speak, but alas, it was clear that the Wells Fargo Center was full of people who were excited to work hard to elect Hillary and the energy became contagious.
One moment that really stood out to me was when Hillary gave a shout out to Bernie, and his policies, and you saw some Bernie or Busters (denoted by fluorescent green shirts) stand up and applaud. While I still hold reservations about how much I trust Hillary to push for the progressive policies that I think our country needs, I think that she has a good head and strong heart, and I believe she’ll enter office and try to make strides in those directions. Hillary is not the uncompromising idealist that Bernie is/was, but Hillary has proven that she’s able to accomplish a lot when she sets her heart to it. I remember a speaker saying, “Hillary is a progressive who gets things done”. I don’t necessarily disagree with the assessment. I tend to be pretty steadfast in my own values, and would be slow to compromise with Republicans, who I think don’t have the country’s best interest at heart, but I look at Hillary and I see someone who is going to say that an okay solution is better than no solution, and we can readdress it in the future.
That was what I believe happened with the Affordable Care Act. When Obama and the Congressional Democrats (majority in the House, and supermajority in the Senate) were drafting health care reform, I think many of us desired more from what was passed, but they spent a while trying to reach across the aisle and achieve Republican support, which was non-existent. I’m not sure what kind of environment Hillary will have if she’s elected. Currently, our Congress has reached unprecedented levels of partisanship. There is no Democrat who is more conservative than the most liberal Republican in Congress. Over the last six years of Obama’s presidency, the Republicans have worked hard to try to keep Obama from getting re-elected, and then to reduce his legacy to as little as possible, leading Obama to resort to utilizing executive action to produce results. And executive actions still have limited scope. My belief is that if Hillary gets elected, she’s going to have a Democratic senate, at a minimum (Democrats need to pick up four seats, if they retain the presidency, and Indiana, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Illinois all look to be likely pickups for the Democrats, with winnable races in Arizona, Missouri, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Florida. The only seat the Democrats appear to be playing defense in is Nevada, which appears to be a tossup currently). The house is a little more difficult to regain with the redistricting, which has created many opportunities for the GOP to hold a disproportionate number of seats. The Democrats would likely need to win the generic ballot by 7-10 points to be able to retake the House of Representatives, though it is likely that the Democrats will make gains in the House. In the event of a Democratic Presidency, Democratic Senate, and Republican House, it will be up to Hillary, (likely) Paul Ryan, and (likely) Chuck Schumer to figure out where the parties can make inroads. But the Republicans could choose to avoid working with Hillary, instead focusing on promoting their own agenda, thus leading to at least two more years of gridlock, comparable to the last four years.
While the Republican Party appears to be in shambles entering the General Election season (today we saw Donald Trump refuse to endorse Paul Ryan and John McCain in their respective GOP primaries), the Democratic Party is unified going forward excluding a few dissenters on the outside of our party. Those who supported Bernie Sanders in the primary, must continue to put pressure on Hillary Clinton to follow through on the promises she’s made, working to attract Bernie supporters, but we also must not give up our fights. The Democratic Party appears to be moving to the left, and I feel that in two years and in four years, we’re going to see many more candidates in the mold of Bernie Sanders running for local races, and even house races. This will set the table for more progressive successes down the line, and especially with the influx of millennial progressives into the electorate, and the large portion of the Democratic Party they make up, that is the future of our party, and once there is a bench of young, progressive candidates, it is likely we will finally see one become the standard bearer of our party (maybe looking forward towards 2028 or 2032?). I remain very active in the North Carolina Democratic Party and have been excited when I’ve seen Bernie supporters encouraging people to continue to revolution and work to elect like-minded individuals at the state and local level. I can’t enough how I know this is a team effort as we move towards November. Like Bernie said, #NotMeUs. One person is not going to win this election, but we’re going to work together knocking on doors, calling voters, registering voters, and ensuring that everyone who wants to vote does not have any barriers, which keep them from the polls (Lots of great news about voter ID laws being struck over the past few days!)
All in all, when the balloons fell, I felt incredibly proud to be a Democrat, but the celebration ends quickly, and there’s still a lot of work to do. We’re inside 100 days from Election Day, and can’t take anything for granted. We can’t only work to elect Hillary, but we also must focus on electing down-ballot Democrats, who can help her achieve her ambitious agenda.