The untrump part of the election
On Nov. 9, progressives awoke to discover the nightmare of Donald Trump’s victory was indeed reality. The grief of the decisive loss was overwhelming, as the victor is the most ignorant, narcissistic, unqualified presidential candidate our nation has ever seen.
The loss was unexpected, but there were more Trump voters than anyone imagined. The “whitelash,” as Van Jones called it, turned white, blue-collar workers in the rust belt into agents of self-destructive change. One campaign button summed up their feelings perfectly: Deplorable Lives Matter.
The day after, we were dissecting what the election will mean for health policy in the college class I teach, and a foreign student asked why Republicans would want to take away health insurance from 20 million Americans by repealing Obamacare. The class struggled for an answer.
A Muslim student offered that he was scared, and his friends were joking with him about when he was leaving the country. It didn’t sound funny. A female student told me how she watched the election results in tears, wondering if all the work she’s done on campus sexual assault was for naught. Some of the Latino students looked equally stricken.
In the end, it was an election about light and darkness, about hope and despair. While the world watched with a strong sense of schadenfreude mixed with horror, Americans turned their democracy over to a failed businessman and reality television star. It doesn’t seem possible, and yet, President Trump will seize the reins of power next January.
But Nevada progressives can take pride in the Clinton victory in our state, a blue wave that also flipped two U.S. House seats and both houses of the Legislature into the Democratic column.
Nevadans chose a female U.S. Senator for the first time in its history, and the first Latina in the country, rejecting a House member who signed on and off the Trump train one too many times.
Democrats now decisively control the Nevada Assembly with a 27-15 majority, assisted by the surprise 38-vote victory of Skip Daly in a Republican district in Sparks. The incumbent voted for the Raiders stadium scam in the recent special session, a decision that turned many conservative voters against her.
Democrats also narrowly seized control of the state Senate by flipping a seat in Southern Nevada. The 11-10 margin is slim, but allows the Democrats to act as a counterweight to Governor Sandoval’s worst instincts.
The most satisfying local victory on election night was the re-election of populist Reno City Council member Jenny Brekhus, who survived an orchestrated effort by corporate Nevada to blame her for all the City’s missteps. The Nevada Jobs Coalition raised $2.3 million from the corporate interests in Nevada—bankers, developers, gaming companies and mining conglomerates—and spent heavily against Brekhus, whose questions and votes annoy them. She won anyway.
Progressives can also take heart in the stronger participation of Latinos and millennials in Nevada’s elections. A new partnership between PLAN Action, the Center for Community Change Action, and the Immigrant Voters Win PAC emerged to engage these traditionally underrepresented groups through an intensive door knocking and voter contact campaign.
Ironically, the xenophobia and racism of Donald Trump will motivate these newly created activists to continue to work hard to change the course of politics in Nevada. At an impromptu dinner attended by young people involved with Move On or PLAN Action, several 20-somethings told me they were impressed with the depth of Nevada’s progressive community and were thinking of leaving the Bay Area for Northern Nevada. We welcome them.
People under 40 supported Trump the least. As we endure the next four years under his leadership, younger Americans must engage in the political battles. After all, they have the most to lose.