A warning for Democrats

Photo credit: NBC News

Photo credit: NBC News

By Brittany Russell, Staff Writer

Donald Trump has solidified himself as one of the most divisive figures in American politics that we’ve seen in modern history. His rise to power has been met with stronger opposition than what we’ve seen since Vietnam. He’s made quite a turbulent debut in his first 100 days in office and has been met with both high praise and high opposition.

As a Democrat, I’m thrilled to see other Democrats step up their game and increase their engagement with politics. State and local politics are just as important as federal politics, even if they come off as less sexy and have less star quality.

I’m really excited to see that people are marching against injustices perpetuated by this administration. The grand scale of the Women’s March inspired many other marches- for science, for climate change, for truth. These are causes I agree with. I love this energy that’s been invigorated into the Democratic Party. I want you to keep engaging.

However, there’s still work to do, and we are only 100 days in. Donald Trump is probably not going anywhere for a while. There’s another year until midterms, and three until 2020 (I’m not touching the impeachment idea here – mainly because I don’t think it’ll happen).The previous champions of the Democratic Party are aging and are about to step out of the limelight for good. And young Democrats, I urge you to remember this is not a sprint – it is a marathon. Pace yourselves and remember that there’s a long way to go. We’ve only made it an inch through this presidency and I don’t want our steam and energy to be worn out by the time it’s truly needed. That energy needs to be harnessed to power the Democratic Party through an identity crisis as we face aging heroes and search for a new hope like what we saw in President Obama.

Democrats, our bench is fairly weak, and the superstars are reaching 70, or in the case of Obama, has no political future. We did make a mistake in putting all of the eggs in the Hillary Clinton basket.

The Democratic National Party is now faced with the divided party that we thought the Republicans would be facing when Hillary won. Bernie Sanders widened that divide and when Hillary won, several of his voters jumped ship to the Trump Train because they didn’t think the establishment worked for them.

A few names are cropping up (Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker), but none are gaining as much star power and that star power needs to consolidate. Don’t force Biden or Bernie to run to buy them some time- what they need are more rising stars and more people that will engage and harness the newfound energy, and keep it going until the elections. In the meantime, the young crop of Democrat officials are now being forced to take sides on a more progressive path like Bernie, or take a moderate path like Hillary.

That choice is being delayed in favor of framing the party as “The Party Trump Isn’t A Part Of.” I don’t think this is the right answer at all. Treat Trump like you would treat any other Republican politician with questions of policies and not his character.Attacking his character was not a strategy that helped them. Focus on the policies, where he went wrong and where the GOP went wrong, and remind his voter base where Trump screwed them – healthcare, tax reform, coal, etc.

As we continue to look back at one of our greatest failures, more and more issues come to light about where the Democratic Party went wrong.

I see recurring themes of a lack of a clear economic message- and while Hillary Clinton had one on her website, it was never pushed or sold as much as it could have been. Find that economic message: pick one side or the other, or preferably reach a compromise, and hit it hard. That was one of Trump’s biggest advantages. Address the Wall Street elephant in the room- the speaking fees can wait until after you’re done being president.

Trump is temporary, but an identity crisis can last for years. Solidify an identity and that can engage people for years to come and lessen the damage Trump causes, and keep that momentum going.

Otherwise, come 2018 and 2020, the GOP is going to look at an aging party laying on napping snowflake millennials and laugh all the way to the U.S. Capitol and the White House.

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Author: Brittany Russell

Brittany Russell '19 is a Political Science major and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies minor. She is the music director for 91.1 WZBT Gettysburg and hosts a show Thursdays at 9pm. When she's not DJing or spouting off her opinions, she appreciates coffee, lipstick, puns, and corgis. Follow her on Twitter @supbruss.

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