DEW: Democrats: The way forward

Dear Fellow Democrats,We experienced a devastating loss on Election Day, but the reality is that this was a long time coming. Be forewarned that this is not going to be a narrative to make you feel better. This may hurt, but it will hopefully define our much-needed paradigm shift and our comeback. And we are in need of a comeback.Before I touch on where we went wrong, let’s acknowledge that Sec. Hillary Clinton, an immensely qualified woman, has a 2.7 million-vote lead over president-elect Donald J. Trump, which means she has more votes than most every male presidential candidate in history. It’s unparalleled, unprecedented, and incredible.Now that we have celebrated the minor historical moment, let’s face the history we didn’t make. We lost, and therefore we did not elect the first woman president. We missed the mark, because we took it for granted that one who is viewed by many as racist, sexist, and xenophobic would be beatable based on logic and reason. That was clearly not the case.The error was strategic on our part. Let’s face it; the game is rigged, but we knew that going in, just like the super delegates during the primary election, the Electoral College was not new in the general election. It was our job to get the people to turn out and vote for our candidate in key states. According to the polls, Clinton was winning, but the only polls that matter are the ones on Election Day.The first mistake can’t be blamed on Clinton. Although there has been an incredible movement for immigration reform, Black Lives Matter, and the fight for a $15 minimum wage, the Democratic Party hasn’t done targeted, consistent issue outreach to the “coalition of minority voters.”The coalition as I see it includes communities of color, the LGBTQ community, women, and the working class across color lines. We have not applied consistent public pressure on issues that affect our base. Clearly we have championed and supported issues through campaign rallies, votes, and elections. However, we have not consistently organized around issues with person-to-person outreach with the same intention and messaging from the court house to the White House.The only way we win now is to connect with our coalition on all their issues over the next four years. Our coalition of voters should know their precinct chair, their county party chair, and their neighbors. They should be talking about issues and where the party stands. All politics are local, and we have to start all over from the bottom up.The people should know that when we support the next presidential candidate, that person supports their issues, because the Democratic Party supports their issues. They will not simply show up to vote, but they will have passion that fills the gap that that we need to turn out new voters.We had great candidates who had a cross-appeal to different segments of the population in Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama.In addition to cross-appeal, Obama had one of the most strategic ground games that we have seen in our lifetime. He spoke to people’s greatest hopes. He changed the game.Now, Donald Trump has changed the game, by using our playbook. He spoke to the working class and to people’s deepest fears.So, to the Democratic Party, let’s go back to our best. Let’s engage with movements on consistent basis. Let’s go to our coalition and say that we will not just vote, but we will stand up and sit down for justice. We will walk off the Senate and House floor and raise our voice when our votes will not make the difference. We will sit in the chamber until there is change. We will join in the streets in solidarity. And we’ll meet you at your door to talk to you, neighbor to neighbor.We are the party of the people. We will stand up for each other for justice, for peace and prosperity. This will not be determined by our words, but by our actions.Aisha Dew is a political strategist, former chair of the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party and former state director for Bernie Sanders.