We know that the last presidential election was “won” by Donald Trump by under 80,000 votes across three states. We don’t even need to mention that Trump got far fewer votes than Hillary Clinton. Now I doubt that what was intended when the framers wrote the Constitution. Nevertheless, it was the Constitution that gave us the Electoral College that brought this minority monster to his present position. But it wasn’t only the Electoral College to blame — it was the inability of the people who are suffering the most to get out and vote. There is a move on now to bring civics education back into all school curricula. The idea is to emphasize that people have to vote. That’s not enough.
For many years, we have seen only about half the electorate get off their duffs and vote for president. That is disgraceful. I would posit that most of the folks who don’t exercise the franchise are the very people who need government to protect them and to assure them equality of opportunity. As Trump and his Republican colleagues strip Americans of their right to decent health care, Social Security, free school lunches and dinners for potentially starving children, and more, you might think that the people who need it the most would hustle to the polls.
When Barack Obama ran for president, many of the most historically disenfranchised did vote. Not all that many, mind you, but enough to bring Obama over the line. I think the fact that Obama was African American made a huge difference. It brought hope to a community that had little reason to think that things would ever change for them.
If the Democrats are to win the next election, the political phenomenon that put Obama in the Oval Office will have to be replicated. I have been considering which candidate could make that happen and to me, there is one name that keeps on coming up: Deval Patrick, the former governor of Massachusetts. I have been privileged to know Patrick for several years. He is both smart and eloquent and he’s married to one of the most accomplished women I have ever met. But even better, he is a capitalist of the kind that those with the most can relate to. Since he left the governorship he has worked for Bain Capital. While some might hold that against him, I suspect it will be a tremendous asset to bringing in middle and upper class Democrats and even some Republicans.
For a Democrat to win in 2020, it will take more than just a good candidate. All those people who have been scared into depression by the current occupant of the White House will have to do things they haven’t even considered to assure the right outcome. They will, for example, have to figure how to use their telephones to call everyone they know in toss up states to try to convince them to vote. In many cases, people who talk the talk about how close this country is coming to a fascist like dictatorship will have to get to the toss up states to go door to door to tell the tale of Trump.
It won’t take all of the fifty percent who don’t vote to get to the polls. Even five or ten percent would mean a landslide. This democracy thing really isn’t a game – it’s deadly serious stuff and we can’t just sit out and observe from the sidelines. This is a time for commitment and real sacrifice. It really is now or never. It isn’t the teacher telling us in a boring class about the three branches of government. If we don’t want to lose it all we had better do the right thing and as my friend Stephen’s mom used to say, “He knows what the right thing is.” So do you.