By Sydney McDevitt
On July 27, 2016, President Obama took the stage at the Democratic National
Convention. When the President said Donald Trump’s name, the audience began to boo. “Don’t boo, vote!” the President quipped back.
Unfortunately, Democrats would have to learn this lesson the hard way four months later when Donald Trump was elected president and Republicans across the country earned a sweeping victory on all levels of government. Booing had not translated into voting.
Fast-forward 364 days later to Election Day 2017. A lot had happened in a year. In his inauguration speech, President Trump made reference to “American carnage” and made no attempt to unify a country after a divisive election. Later that night the press secretary, Sean Spicer, went to the podium in the Brady Briefing Room and lied to the press about the size of the inauguration crowd.
The next day, millions of people from all races and ethnicities, religions, socio-economic statuses, sexual orientations and genders marched in protest against the President of the United States in the national Women’s March. These two days established a pattern between the White House and the political left. The White House would do something to make the left mad, the left would organize and protest. Rinse and repeat for a year.
Going into the 2017 off-year election, there was concern over whether the activism over the course of the year would translate into votes. Could Democrats win governorships in Virginia and New Jersey? What would happen if they failed to win back seats in state houses and city councils? Could they do more than just boo, and actually get out and vote?
The answer to the last questions would be yes. On Tuesday night, Ralph Northam, a Democrat, won the Virginia governorship with approximately 54 percent of the votes, according to CNN. Democratic candidate Phil Murphy won the New Jersey governorship with approximately 55.5 percent of the votes, per CNN. Democrats in Virginia unseated at least a dozen Republicans in the state’s House of Delegates, according to The Washington Post, including Donica Roem who became the first openly transgendered elected official in the country.
These results were not limited to just the state, but the city level too. St. Paul elected its first African American mayor in Melvin Carter and Andrea Jenkins
became the first trans woman of color to be elected, claiming her seat on the Minneapolis City Council.
Across the country Democrats celebrated the win, but going forward we must resist becoming complacent. These wins for Democrats are just the beginning of the type of grassroots organizing it is going to take to pick up the pieces of a disheveled party.
It will take resistance to cynicism and a profound dedication to the values of our country to continue this fight, but judging from Tuesday night it seems that Democrats may have finally learned an important lesson: “Don’t boo, vote.” Or at the very least, “Boo and vote.”
This is the opinion of Sydney McDevitt, CSB senior