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By: Michele Woodward – Confluence Daily is your daily news source for women in the know.
Some key takeaways from the mid-term elections:
1. This was a night about Women, People of Color and LGBTQ candidates.
We’ll now have more diversity, representation, and inclusion in not only the House and Senate but in Governor’s mansions and state legislatures. This is a very good thing because when our elected representatives reflect the entire nation, they can speak for what the people really need and want.
2. Brace yourself for a backlash against Women, People of Color and LGBTQ officials.
Already, I’ve heard Trump surrogates saying things like, “We’ve tried to compromise/reach out/really tried” with Democrats. This is gaslighting, FYI. But it’s a potent message going into the 2020 elections. “We’ve TRIED to work with that angry mob of crazy Democrats but they won’t budge!” According to the Washington Post – Sahar School poll, 37% of voters said the one word to describe their feelings about their vote was “Angry”. An equal 37% said their word was “Anxious.” Trump is pushing these hot buttons with his rhetoric – we’ve seen it and will continue to see it – and laying the blame for all that anger and anxiety at the feet of Democrats might just work going into 2020, given the anxiety and anger change and newness brings to some people.
3. This was an election about turnout. It’s estimated that 97 million people turned out to vote yesterday.
Over 800,000 people were registered on National Voter Registration Day alone. This enthusiasm and participation is fantastic – and all those people will be looking for progress and change. They will be looking for their vote to have made a difference. If Democrats use their majority in the House to pick nits rather than offer practical, real, tangible changes, expect that backlash I mentioned above to swell before 2020. Remember, 40 percent of Americans identify as Independent. Last night they made a swing toward D, and could easily swing toward R or sit out the next election if the momentum they’ve created is squandered.
4. This election was about populism in the traditional sense – it was about the people.
Democrats picked up 7 new Governors seats yesterday, which means that going forward 52% of Americans will be governed by Democrats. This is another great opportunity to show what can be done, and to language progress as a reflection between Trump’s laissez-faire approach and the can-do approach of the Governors. Likewise, since the House is our most representative legislative body (seats are determined by population – and we can talk about the impact of gerrymandering another time), the Democrats taking control in the House is reflective of the will of the people. If I were in charge of planning for 2020, I would remember “The People” just like Carville said, “It’s the economy, stupid.” It’s really about policies and processes and ways of life which help the vast majority of The People.
80% of Americans say that we’ve never been so divided as a nation and that they’d like us to pull together, to find a joint purpose. Perhaps we can do that by focusing on the things which change the quality of life – and of the future – for most people.
I think Trump’s biggest supporters are still waiting for him to deliver. They say to themselves, “Well, he’s done great things in his career. He’s made a pile of cash. He’s had so much to focus on, but he’ll get to me, soon, and all my worries will go away.” That’s the come on from Trump and the more those of us who see things a different way can focus on what he *hasn’t* delivered, the more his current supporters may start to see things a different way.
One other thing to address. We’ve talked about the Blue Wave, which was more like a wavelet in many ways. But equally critical to our going forward as a nation is the Red, White Wall. In the Governor’s races in both Florida and Georgia, white women stood with angry and anxious white men and voted for Republicans, even when these Republicans were race-baiting, exclusionary, gross. If some of these women had joined their blue sisters, the outcomes of those elections would have been different. What then? Schools would be funded. Medicaid would be funded. People with disabilities would get help. Folks would get fed. All issues many women on the red side really care about.
Women vote more consistently than men. More women have voted than men in every election since 1980. We’re a potent force, and we need to be united.
I realize that many women feel dependent on men for their economic security and safety (although it’s so interesting to me that 40% of American households have female breadwinners). Maybe they vote with their man because they’ve picked up their fear and anxiety about the diversification of the world. I am aware that some women really want policies proposed by Trump and feel comfortable with the GOP platform.
That’s fine and every American’s right.
It’s just that the GOP as currently constructed is not really including women – just using them to consolidate power in the hands of a few male oligarchs. Just sayin’.
What I propose is that women speak to women, going forward. That going into 2020, we appeal to the sorority of sisters who really want a better country. We have to speak to their fears in a one-on-one way – sister-to-sister. Blue-leaning women can’t write red-leaning women off as uneducated or stupid or silly. Women showed their strength yesterday, and we can lead the way forward toward a country which is healed, where people get what they need, where we are united in our pride in what we can accomplish when we all come together as Americans.
More by Michele:
Michele Woodward is an executive coach and writer who lives and works in Washington, DC. A self-described “recovering political junkie”, she worked in Presidential politics for a large chunk of her career before regaining her sanity and becoming a coach and consultant. She urges every American to vote in the upcoming elections.
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