OnWednesday, January 3, the Senate returns from their winter break, and to the chagrin of Roy Moore, who is yet to concede the Alabama senate race, Doug Jones will be sworn in as the new senator from Alabama.
The Democrats will start of this year using a new chair in the Senate — that the GOP currently just has a 51-49 majority — and strong prospect of retaking the Senate, and possibly the House, at 2018. However, regardless of the momentum generated by Jones’ success and Ralph Northam decisively winning the governorship in Virginia, both these candidates have already made statements that have frustrated Democrats, tempered the excitement surrounding their successes, and potentially harmed the party’s momentum in this year.
Less than a week later narrowly defeating Roy Moore from the Alabama Senate race, Jones had already broken ranks with the Democratic institution.
He told CNN’s Jake Tapper he doesn’t believe that Trump should resign the sexual harassment allegations against him, saying, “Those allegations were created before the election, so people had an chance to judge before that election.”
Given that Jones campaigned about what was for Alabama a pretty liberal stage, many progressives hoped he would have a tougher stance than essentially reiterating the White House’s talking points.
Similarly, Northam, who supported Medicaid expansion throughout his campaign, has already criticized the expense of this program and stated he would like to see “managed care” reforms to supposedly make the program more efficient.
These positions run counter to their effort messaging. And to further afield progressives, they have also stressed the importance of bipartisanship.
During a previous age, calls of bipartisanship from a Democratic politician could have been welcomed by progressives, but maybe not now. Today’s Republicans craft legislation in secret refusing to work with Democrats, and they create laws that limit access into this vote for Democrats. Bipartisanship now is largely not about finding a way to match in the middle, but instead acquiescing to tacitly emboldening Republican obstructionism. So when Democrats, particularly those from the South, attempt this tactic, they’re essentially undermining progressive values in order to work with a celebration that shows no desire to work with them.
Jones and Northam have not even been sworn in and they have already jeopardized their innovative credentials. The Democrats are concerned about the sort of politicians these two will be, and they should be. These two will probably be way more conservative than progressives want, but above all else that the disappointment that Jones and Northam could bring can’t result in Democrats staying home from the polls in the elections ahead.
Southern Democratic politicians come in a school where bipartisanship and compromising with Republicans are necessary for political survival. They appealed to the swing voters who could go either way, and they turned some conservative voters, also. Nevertheless as American politics has gotten more split that the pool of swing voters dried up, and Southern Democrats, at least white ones , all but disappeared.
So, I get that Jones and Northam earned their stripes at the political conflicts of yesteryear. Forming alliances with Republicans has always been their way of survival. (Northam really voted for George W. Bush twice.) Their recent statements wouldn’t have been a significant deal a long time ago, however they’re now. Instead of catering to middle, which Might Have Been necessary three presidents Before, they need to cater to the left and particularly the minority communities that helped propel them to success.
Back in Virginia, record numbers of young voters and minorities showed up on Election Day. Northam won 69 percent of voters age 18-29 and 61% of voters 30-44. Voters 18-44 made up 38% of their vote. Northam additionally won 87% of the black vote and 67 percent of the Latino vote. These two classes made up 26 percent of their vote.
Young people and minorities put Northam over the top, and a similar story performed in Alabama. Leading up to the election, analysts anticipated that 20-25 percent of qualified voters would vote in the runoff election between Jones and Moore, but a spike in Democrat supporters, notably within the African American community, led to nearly 40 percent of qualified voters voting.
Black Republicans made up 29 percent of their vote Alabama despite being just 26 percent of the population, and Jones won 96% of the black vote. Jones, who won by roughly 21,000 votes, got more than 300,000 votes from the African American community.
Jones and Northam get some slack as these sort of gaffes should be anticipated from Southern Democrats. But moving forward minorities and young voters will need to feel valued greater than average Republicans by these two candidates.
In a country like Alabama, Jones may be reluctant to fully and vocally adopt the civil rights and voting rights places of the African American community, from fear of a backlash in the nation’s Republican majority. However, Alabama has turned disenfranchising African Americans into a science, and black voters didn’t come out and overwhelmingly encourage Jones so he could turn into a blind eye to his nation’s racial oppression.
Before election, Alabama even launched an “inactive” voter scheme — which could be unconstitutional — to inhibit black voting in the nation. It proved ineffective this time, but Alabama is constant in its own disenfranchising pursuits.
Likewise, Northam needs to recognize the how Virginia’s changing demographics have reached the country more liberal. More Virginians reside in the north close to Washington, DC, and also the black and Latino populations have become more powerful. Neither of those groups needs a moderate Democrat who relies on striking deals with conservatives. They overlooked his support for Bush as a Democrat, any Democrat, could be better than Ed Gillespie, but they will want something more than a liberal who appreciated the eight years of this Bush presidency.
Beyond voting rights issues, Jones and Northam may be unable to move farther to the left, and while that could frustrate liberal voters, it shouldn’t impact their desire to vote later on. Provided that this new coalition of Democratic voters remains together and votes in comparable levels, it’ll have the ability to win statewide elections. Jones and Northam may not be exactly the politicians progressives desire, but these successes may have opened the doorway for advanced candidates and policies in the elections to come.
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