Democrats will keep losing elections if we don’t accept after a primary that we must unite and enthusiastically endorse and vote for the Democrat who will be on the general election ballot.
If we learned nothing else from the 2016 presidential election it should be that dithering for a month after the primary before making an endorsement; allowing your supporters to believe it might be OK to vote for a third party or stay home in protest; and not getting your ego under control will all lead to a Republican winning whether it is for the state legislature, the governor’s mansion, or Congress.
We Democrats, conservatives, moderates, progressives or far left will always fight over which road to take to our destination. If we listen carefully to each other we find we have many similar goals all radically different than those of the current Republican Party. We want racial justice, economic equality, good and affordable healthcare for everyone, and quality public education and affordable college no matter where you live or your socio-economic status. We want a world at peace and a prosperous United States where everyone shares in the prosperity.
Our fights are often over the path to these goals and how quickly we can reach them. If we don’t vote for a Democrat in every possible race for state legislature, governor, and Congress in 2018 we are assured not only won’t we reach any of our goals but we will continue on the path away from them that Republicans have us on.
Primaries are the place for our fights. But if we are to replace Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), put a Democrat in the governor’s mansion in Georgia, and pick up congressional seats in Texas, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California and a host of other states, the internecine fights must be put on hold for the general election. To me it’s a waste to primary Gov. Andrew Cuomo in New York, but you may think supporting Cynthia Nixon is crucial, so be it. But on Sept. 14 we must all join hands and support the winner and do so with no reservations. We saw how important that was in Virginia last year when Tom Perriello immediately and wholeheartedly endorsed Ralph Northam after a tough primary and helped elect a Democratic governor.
Nov. 6, 2018 may well be the most important election in our lifetime. We are fighting for our democracy. It is crucial we get people to the polls.
The founding fathers understood that to build a lasting and prosperous nation, it would require compromise. They set out a blueprint for a government, our Constitution, with checks and balances. We know they didn’t get it all right from the start as there are 27 amendments. They anticipated that and provided a way to do it in Article V.
So today we have two viable national parties in the United States — Democrats and Republicans — with a host of smaller ones trying to influence them. We have a few independents elected but to be effective they choose one of the two major parties to caucus with. In 2019, the agenda in the United States Congress, and state legislatures, will be controlled by one of the major parties. The simple fact is if you believe in the principles of the Democratic Party and in the general election you don’t vote or vote for a third party, then you are helping to elect Republicans. I may not agree with Joe Manchin, the Democrat West Virginians sent to the Senate, or Heidi Heitkamp, the Democrat North Dakotans sent there, but they are both miles above the Republicans they ran against. They also will vote for a Democratic majority leader, giving us the chance to stop Mitch McConnell (R-Ken.) from being Majority Leader again.
In my lifetime as a Democrat I have yet to see where the Democrat I don’t like isn’t better than the Republican he/she ran against. Every positive step forward our country has taken happened when Democrats were in control. Voting rights, civil rights, women’s rights, the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, the rights of Dreamers, Medicare and Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act and more. Those are only some of the reasons Democratic unity on Nov. 6 is so crucial.
If we truly care we must set aside our differences on that day. Your candidate losing the primary cannot stop you from working your heart out to get everyone to the polls to vote for the Democrat on the general election ballot. If we all do that we can, and will, win.
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.