On Nov. 8, the liberal Berkeley bubble burst: Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. Although Hillary Clinton received more than two million more popular votes than Donald Trump, the Electoral College votes displaced her. While we are naturally shocked and disappointed by the outcome of such a divisive political race, it was all part of the democratic process. Trump won, and we must respond accordingly.
So the question becomes:Where do Democrats go from here? The Democratic Party needs to reevaluate its leadership and platforms, while working with the emerging progressive populism in the party. Democrats have historically fought for worker’s rights and must reconnect with that core constituency. Democrats must also get back in touch with other constituencies that they have historically represented but have started to take for granted. Complacency is widespread throughout the political system from those we elect to represent us to everyday people who chose not to vote.
In the aftermath of the election, we have seen many calls to action. There have been marches and rallies in many major cities. There are very valid fears about the reality of a Trump administration. His appointments of people like Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions show that his campaign promises are not as empty as some would speculate. As Democrats we must commit to standing with Muslims, Latinos, women, the LGBTQIA+ community and all groups that are targeted by Trump’s hateful rhetoric. In order to stand in solidarity with these groups, we must organize, show up at the ballot box and commit ourselves to fighting for equality.
The conduct of the DNC during the primaries was disappointing and created divisions within the party. However, moving forward there are a few ways we can start to reform the organization. We can elect a progressive DNC chair who prioritizes organizing over fundraising. We can improve our platform to make it more progressive and inclusive. We can encourage millennials and students to continue being involved in the Democratic Party. We can ensure that we never elect a bigot like Donald Trump again.
During our general meeting following the election we discussed the next steps for our organization and how we can build on our previous work. This past semester we held weekly phone banking sessions, canvassed in Nevada for Hillary Clinton and Catherine Cortez Masto, endorsed and campaigned for local candidates and created guides to help Berkeley students vote. Despite the losses on the national level, almost every local measure and candidate we endorsed succeeded. These are the types of progressive changes we hope to continue to make. Next semester, our club will hold meetings to outline official platforms and stances on various issues. As a whole, we aim to become a club that takes a firm stance on our progressive ideals, and a space where people of all backgrounds feel comfortable coming and voicing their opinions and concerns. We are proud of Berkeley students’ history of political activism and hope to continue their legacy.
As Californians, we must capitalize on the fact that we are a Democratic stronghold. We have a Democratic governor, two Democratic U.S. Senators and a Democratic legislature. But, we must still hold our representatives accountable and through progressive legislation protect communities that are most vulnerable to this administration. In 2018, we will be electing a new governor, and it is important to elect someone who will not compromise on important issues. Californians should not only fight for sanctuary cities, but also for sanctuary campuses. We should oppose the construction of a wall on our southern border and oppose a religious registry.
Historically the Democratic Party has overseen the implementation of important legislation such as the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. More recently, under President Obama, Democrats have supported the Affordable Care Act, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Dodd-Frank and other progressive legislation. Instead of watching the progress we have made get erased in the next four years, it is important that we not only defend the Democratic legacy, but also continue to fight for it. As Democrats we must hold onto our core values and ensure that dangerous policies do not take hold within the United States. As college Democrats, we must do our part to ensure that our country continues to move forward.
Rhea Misra, Caiden Nason, Suher Adi. Harshil Bansal, Olivia McGovern, Divya Vijay, Maddie Menke, Martha Fiehn, Sophie Davies and Emily Glazer are members of the Cal Berkeley Democrats board.