I’m not trying to paint a picture of Kaine or Clinton as monsters. They are not. Nor are they Trump. Not even close. But they also do not represent the values of the Democratic base, which feels continuously irrelevant and disregarded and I think there’s a real danger in that. More immediately to the outcome of the election come November, but even more globally and long-term in what the Democratic Party stands for and how it can and desperately needs to affect positive change. I want the Democratic Party I believed in back. It is not that anymore. And I obviously do not stand alone in that deep desire and commitment. And there is no easy or faultless path.
I do not believe being silent now and waiting till after the election will change things, In fact, from where I stand, we may lose this election if we cannot get Hillary Clinton to up her approval rating by directly embracing her base. The center/right, the moderates, are not the Democratic base. And right now the base is being made to feel like they are more of an annoyance than anything else. Even though they are fighting so hard and in the face of so much criticism from many of their friends and neighbors and a near-complete disregard from their own Party’s establishment. This is not a fun road, nor is it a straightforward one. There are many unknowns in every direction.
I understand the fears that some of my friends have that criticism of Hillary Clinton at this point in time fuels the fire of Trump supporters. My belief is it does the opposite. I believe it reminds people that we can fight against Trump and all he represents, and do so by holding our own candidate to a much higher bar and try to get her to recognize the deep importance of rallying her base, of being their spokesperson. If she continues catering to the moderate and the right, she will have to make promises to the moderate and the right. Her agenda and policies will reflect their desires and wishes. And she will lose millions of votes in the process, not to mention help erode the already faltering faith in our own Party.
People can stop speaking their mind and stop posting their thoughts, concerns and frustration online and elsewhere, but that won’t stop the feelings or the frustration. Or the fear. Or the desire. That will manifest in other ways – like simply not voting, and certainly not rallying around a Democratic candidate they feel does not hear them or care about them. Or teaming up to work with with their fellow Democrats and liberals who are spending most of their time berating them and telling them to shut up. You may not want to hear the thoughts of your fellow Democrats who are struggling with this, but silencing them will only make the situation that much worse.
If there is ever to be anything that resembles unity within the Democratic Party this election cycle, I believe it has to begin with Hillary Clinton. In truth, I have little faith that she will step up, but that won’t keep me from trying anyway and hoping she does.