The Cost of Winning
“Losing isn’t an option” is something a lot of people say, but much of the population fails to practice. The past two years have been great for media companies, head writers of late-night shows, and people in the “think piece” business; but as the 2020 presidential election comes into focus on a not so distant horizon, does the left actually care about winning?
The Democratic Party in the United States is in chaos. The party has no leader, and the biggest names associated with the party could scarcely be more different from each other. Democratic socialists who excel in the social media demographic pull the conversation to the left, while octogenarian congressional leaders and White House nostalgia trips strike a more centrist, moderate chord. The problem is no one is steering the ship. Most Democratic talking points consist of reacting to the current administration, not getting out in front of it and setting a tone in this gaping leadership vacuum.
The troublesome thing is that a lot of people who spend the most time outraged by the current administration have not learned the lessons of 2016 very well. Donald Trump is even more beatable now than he was before he had a chance to alienate people with a chaotic administration and divisive policy agendas. Holding the government hostage for a wall and trying to ban transgender people from the military aren’t things that will make you any new friends.
Say what you will about Hillary Clinton, but she won the popular vote by a sight. All it took to bring her down was the Comey letter, Russian hacking, RNC coordinated attacks, some unbelievably bad late-game political strategy, and 25 years of bad press. All of that, and she only lost by 77k votes across three states. In Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan she lost by less than 0.8%. You may be the biggest Hillary supporter in the world, but you can’t say her campaign was smoothly and effectively run. Let’s put it this way, a likeable mannequin with no political baggage could wipe the floor with Donald Trump… But Democrats seem interested in beating themselves.
Sen. Sanders of Vermont is to many people “Bernie the Redeemer,” but going down this path again isn’t the answer in 2020. If you’re reading this in the Devil Strip, chances are you’ve got Bernie supporters falling out of your ears. Unfortunately his support doesn’t translate to more diverse pockets of the Democratic Party. Sanders didn’t win a single primary in which people of color made up over 15% of the population. Michigan was the only one that came close. In the first primary where African Americans voted in large numbers, he was crushed 86-14 in the black vote, and 76-23 overall. You can’t win the Democratic nomination without people of color, and without the nomination you can’t win the election. Politics is not rock paper scissors. If you can’t get out of the primaries you’ll never have a chance to win in the general.
The main problem with many liberals is that they have no skin in the game. The current administration isn’t having much direct effect on their life, but they are morally outraged by their behavior. That is a valid position to have, but please don’t pretend to care deeply for the people who are affected and then refuse to help them by handing the election to the people who would do them harm. I’m convinced that some of these people are actually fine with the state of our nation, and are satisfied with something new to complain about each week and not having anything to really worry about from the government. Staying home based on “principle” is not a noble cause. I think most would agree anything is better than this. Holding your breath because you didn’t get every single thing you wanted will only help those interested in regression. The biggest lesson politics can teach us is that big change is possible, but not without progress by inches. This isn’t a game of all or nothing, and it’s better to go forward by a little than backwards by a lot. That isn’t to say we can’t set our goals high. This election is the Democrat’s to lose, so if that’s your party, let things play out before you annihilate each candidate during their announcement remarks. One of these horses is the one you’ll have to bet on in November.
Stay focused, one of the best ways to make change is to win, and you can’t win if you beat yourself early on.
Willis Gordon is a musician, stand up comedian, actor, author, essayist, activist, and veteran of the War on Terror. Gordon is committed to quality entertainment and the improvement of our communities through art, action, and inclusion. He organized the “Rock the Block” voter registration concert in 2016, and continues to register voters and fight for civil rights across Stark County. He is the author of The Long Road Home and The Empty Boulevards. His live album, Willis Gordon: Live! is available anywhere you stream music. He wrote the monthly column "The Road Forward: Practical Discussions on Seeking a Better World" for Unlikely Stories Mark V.