Resist Trump Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Yesterday evening I attended an Indivisible Oregon volunteer appreciation event held at the Hollywood Senior Center, a fitting spot for a bunch of old hotheads to gather and socialize. I ate some chicken tacos and Italian meatballs, très multicultural, drank a little wine, chatted with a few wonderful people whose acquaintance I have made along the way, and met a woman who remarked as she walked by that she didn't know anyone, whereupon I introduced myself. We shared our impressions about the midterm elections and where we go from here.
Three of the group's primary movers and shakers made brief remarks. One speaker said that we became involved not because we are members of the Democratic Party but to stand up for our values, which are not shared by the president and the Republican Party. I think that is at the heart of what motivates many of us.
Yes, our candidates lost in Oregon's 2nd congressional district (eastern Oregon) and Washington's 3rd district (southwest Washington), but we made an impact against entrenched incumbents in districts that have been deep red for a long time. In 2016 Oregon Republican Greg Walden took 71.7 percent of the vote, while his Democratic opponent garnered a mere 28 percent. In Washington 3, Republican Jaime Herrera-Beutler won by a smaller margin but still quite handily, 61.8 percent to 38.2 percent. This year was a different story. Walden still won handily with 56.5 percent of the vote to Jamie McLeod-Skinner's 39.2 percent. Herrera-Beutler had a tighter race, defeating Carolyn Long 52.9 percent to 47.1 percent. These are significant shifts to the left that laid the groundwork for better outcomes in 2020. The practical effect in 2018 was that the Republican Party devoted resources to these races that in years past would have been expended in contested districts elsewhere in the country. Walden will be the ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the next Congress. Ordinarily he would have been traveling around the country campaigning for Republicans in tight races. This year Jamie McLeod-Skinner forced him to stay home and defend his own seat by running a grassroots, progressive funded by small donations and supported by many volunteers. The people I hung out with last night were among them.
lays out a grassroots strategy for the next two years, calling on Democrats in Congress to do the following, standing behind them when they do and holding them accountable when they do not:
"Do no harm" by standing fast against the Trump agenda during the lame-duck session;
Introduce and support progressive legislation in the House even though it will never pass in the Senate or be signed by the current occupant of the White House. This will set the stage for enactment in 2021 if we are fortunate for the Democrats to keep the House, reclaim the Senate, and win the White House in 2020; and
Conduct congressional oversight of the executive branch, which will be a new experience for the Trump regime.
The caliber of Democratic candidates in the election just past, even those who did not win, is reason for encouragement. Weighed against that is the unruly nature of the party, which is not nearly as monolithic as its Republican counterpart. Will Rogers famously noted that he was not a member of any organized political party. He was a Democrat. Yesterday on the PBS NewsHour, Mark Shields quoted Mo Udall, a notable Democrat from Arizona, who said that when Democrats organize a firing squad they begin by forming a circle.
Anxiety is not unwarranted.
There is no guarantee that our ideas and values will prevail. As an old
existentialist, a reader of Camus and Beckett, I could not think otherwise. Nonetheless, we go on.
Keep the faith.