By Rep. Raúl Grijalva
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
The American people want bold change.
Elections have consequences. We have to assume that some of Donald Trump’s worst campaign rhetoric on race, gender and religion will be prominent in his policies and legislation as president.
By immediately hiring Stephen Bannon — someone who has thrived on right-wing conspiracy theories and hate speech — Trump has certified that the phobias he ran on are part and parcel to how he will lead.
It’s not our responsibility as Democrats to give him the benefit of the doubt. Rather, it is to prepare for the broad public effort to oppose his worst instincts. To do otherwise is to embrace acquiescence and welcome more defeats.
The winning coalition for Democrats, now and in the future, unites our nation’s changing demographics and the needs of our working class. After years of stagnant wages and off-kilter policies benefiting the rich at the expense of everyone else, the angst amongst working folks is palpable.
The xenophobic and racist tenor that has permeated our politics has far too many immigrant communities fearing for safety in the very country that prides itself on being a nation of immigrants. And the crushing burden of college debt and an abysmal job market has left a skepticism among young voters that cannot be ignored.
Gaining credibility in the eyes of disaffected voters will require a complete realignment of our political infrastructure, beginning with the DNC and state parties. For too long, the Democratic Party has been a place where “the powers that be” simply stay in place, while new blood and good ideas struggled to rise up.
Electing new leaders such as Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota to take the reins as party chairman would let the American people know what we stand for. We must expand our organizing capacity and develop year-round outreach across broad facets of America, without building ethnic silos — rather, we must work toward an inclusive approach to governance and public policy.
Now is not the time for incremental steps or half-measures. The American people spoke last week, and the resounding message to the Democratic Party was that the people want bold change.
Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., is co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.