#Editorial: The Democratic Party Still has Work to do

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden joined by Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks at the The Queen theater Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The Democrats may have won the presidential election but did not fare well in the general election. With Republicans still holding on to the U.S. Senate, depending on the outcome of two senate run-off elections in Georgia on January 5, and gaining seats in the U.S. Congress, it seemed many Republicans disgusted with the presidency of Donald Trump, voted for the Biden-Harris ticket, but voted for Republican candidates down-ballot. 

The Democratic Party failed in stimulating a ‘blue wave’ and with a slimmer majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, and possibly not securing a majority in the U.S. Senate, the job of incoming President Joe Biden could be overwhelmingly frustrating.

The outcome of the general election ought to give the Democratic Party reason for self-introspection and rebuilding.

The Democratic Party over the past several years has tended to take its supporters for granted. This is definitely so with its support from Black voters, despite the fact that Biden-Harris’s win was largely due to the Black vote. But analysis of the 2020 election results showed Republicans making inroads with Black voters. More Black voters voted for Trump than any other Republican presidential candidate.

One of the glaring examples of the detriment of taking the Black vote for granted is that some 20 percent of Black voters in Miami-Dade County either didn’t vote in the election or voted for Trump. Evidence of this downturn of the Black vote in Miami-Dade became apparent as mail-in ballots were returned. Urgings to the Biden campaign to send in ground troops to rectify the situation apparently came too late. 

When this newspaper contacted some Black voters in Miami-Dade to ascertain why there was this reluctance to vote, they said neither the Democratic nor Republican Party have done anything tangible to alleviate their social and economic challenges. They also said each election cycle Democrats woo their votes with “luscious” promises but after the election, even if Democrats are elected, nothing is done for them.

Nonetheless, Black voters soundly rejected Trump. Now, it’s incumbent on the incoming Biden-Harris administration to collaborate with the nation’s Black leaders to develop and implement policies to assist the Black community in realistically emerging from its social and economic malaise. If this isn’t done as a matter of priority, there’s a very real risk the Democratic Party could lose its Black voting base in ensuing years.

The Democratic Party is also guilty of ignoring America’s reaction to socialism—whether this is real or fake. It’s clear the majority of Americans will not, at least not now or in the immediate future, accept a socialist platform. If they did, Bernie Sanders would likely have been the Democratic presidential candidate.

Although to outside observers America may seem prime for socialism—because of the vast imbalance in the standard of living with 90 percent of the population living from pay-check to pay-check—the mere word “socialism” conjures something that’s plainly unacceptable to Americans.

The Democratic Party has the challenge to retain the more progressive members within the party, seek to bridge the social and economic gaps in the country, without using an ideological label.

The party is losing its potential Hispanic support in Miami-Dade, particularly Cubans, Venezuelans, and Hispanics from Central America, to this unfounded branding of socialism. The Republican Party took full advantage of this socialist boogeyman to brand the Democratic party and several candidates, notably Congresswoman Donna Shalala in Miami-Dade as socialist, to win several seats not only in Congress but state legislatures.

The Hispanic community is growing and will continue to grow. Many people in this community have similar experiences to the Black community. It’s also incumbent on the Democratic Party to secure the Hispanic voting bloc solidly in its corner.

Since the late 1930s, the Democratic Party has built a reputation as the party that addresses the cause of marginalized voters. But the leadership of the Democratic National Party, and also several state Democratic Parties, need to be more effective. The party needs astute visionary leadership at national and state levels to assure the needs of the various blocs of voters are recognized and addressed—especially when there’s a Democratic administration in the White House, and also to gauge the party’s platform in future elections.

As the party seeks to improve its impact with voters, it may need to look closely at the valiant role Stacey Abrams played in Georgia in turning that state from red to blue. She found a way to make the Democratic Party more relevant and appealing to the key Black voting bloc. Although some people are calling for a prominent role for her in Biden’s Cabinet, perhaps her most effective role will be taking over leadership of the Democratic National Party. This is vital because the Party must renew its relevance to American voters.

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