So what’s now ahead for the Democrats?
Fault-finding and finger pointing solves nothing. Democrats won with a New America coalition of women, minorities, LGBT and educated voters. They must be a party of substantial inclusion — causing Republicans to emulate them rather than consign them as dethroners.
It is absolutely necessary for Americans to begin the re-evaluation of who we want to be as a nation. This effort has been resisted so long that it is little wonder that our young people often are surprised to know our true history.
Where is the Democratic plan to do anything at the national, state or local levels? Maybe those plans exist, but are they being shared with the public? Shouldn’t they be? The people, we saw Tuesday, are demanding it. Whether it’s gun control, health care, education or economic development, will the people’s representatives share those plans with those who elected them?
One thing we need to cast aside as quickly as possible is the belief that a person on a white horse will suddenly emerge to provide the necessary leadership. Rather, it has to be a cooperative leadership with recognizable goals. This lack has created the vacuum in which we find ourselves.
In Virginia, for example, will the Democrats reinstitute the “One Gun a Month” bill, which was originally supported by Republicans and Democrats alike? That law worked effectively to control the spread of guns into dangerous hands, not limit the purchase.
Will there be meaningful address of health care issues? This was the No. 1 issue in Virginia’s exit polls. Too many people — including too many children — remain uninsured or unable to afford necessary care. Medical expenses outpace earnings for too many in our communities.
Will there be much-needed change in our educational system to address the issues of racial and economic disparity?
One thing Democrats need to cast aside is the belief that a person on a white horse will emerge to provide the necessary leadership.
Perhaps most important, will there be plans to spur the economic development required to support these and other important initiatives?
As I recommended to my friend Mark Warner when he was Virginia’s governor, the commonwealth’s reputation for sound financial management and strong government derives from its leadership’s willingness to face challenges and make thoughtful and tough decisions. It is essential to lay out a vision of where we want to go and then set guiding principles that will get us there. Moreover, there must be continuous monitoring, measuring and analysis of any initiatives set forth by the government.
Democrats cannot focus on this apparent anti-Trump turnout, and believe they have achieved their aims and rebuilt their working-class base. Nor should the party believe the large African-American turnout was an approval of the Democrats’ efforts to appeal to white working-class voters at the expense of minority communities.
Observers often ask, “Who will be the next leader?” Leadership is a tautology. It defines itself. People will decide who best represents the collective voice of American — devoid of bombast and entitlement, instead representing the nation’s best aspirations and ideals.
The Democrats must change the increasingly unfavorable views of government held by too many Americans. They must show that what happened on Tuesday was a kindle to light the flame of brighter horizons.
L. Douglas Wilder was governor of Virginia from 1990 to 1994. He was the nation’s first elected African-American governor.