By Bob Gould
I am writing about what it has been like being a Democrat living for the past 4 years in London, UK. As an American living in Asia, Africa, South America, and Europe for 30 years, I have witnessed an unusual amount of troubling politics. Soon, when my wife retires, we plan to settle down in Nevada City and devote our energies to the local Democratic Party and our progressive ideals.
The events of 2016 caused a deep state of shock for progressives across the western world. With Britain voting to leave the European Union, a symbol of unity across the continent, in June, and ending with the election of the horror show of Trump in November, the lurch to the far right is extraordinary and we should have seen it coming.
Almost a decade on from the global financial crisis, during which the vast majority had been living with high unemployment, wage stagnation, and financial insecurity, an old kind of politics began to emerge, of the strong man, with punitive, mean-spirited, and anti-immigrant values. For more than a decade politics throughout Europe has shown extreme right parties coming in third place (Greece, Sweden, Germany), second place (Finland, Marine Le pen in France, Hungary, Austria, Italy, Denmark), and just like in the US, even coming in first (Netherlands, Cyprus, Slovakia). These politicians capitalized on fears and public opinion, buttressed by catastrophic immigration crisis from the civil war in Syria.
And it has felt like public opinion everywhere has been veering toward hostility. Not only is the malignant political force of the far right, which had been considered defeated after WW2, making a comeback, but disturbing alliances have been forming (Trump and Putin???).
What do Democrats everywhere need to be doing? Here is my humble list of suggestions:
- Remain vigilant and focused on educating yourself. Read. Start a book club. Listen to political podcasts. Watch news daily, including Faux News for at least 10 minutes.
- Be sensitive to your level of exhaustion. These are tough times to remain continually vigilant and focused, so be flexible, and take a break from the news for a day or two, and comeback refreshed.
- Focus your energies on influencing Independents and not Trump supporters. There are many independents in Nevada County, focus on them. However, for helping yourself understand the Trump supporter, I recommend watching the documentary “The Brainwashing of my Dad.”
- Get out the voters this November. The seniors in High School who will turn 18 by November 6thare especially important to reach because research consistently shows a very strong positive correlation, that the younger you are when you first vote, the more likely it is you will vote in future elections.
- Get active. Activism in London is really fun. Making posters with friends, and marching, and talking with other like-minded folks on the march is really inspiring.
- Of course, an important way of being active is donating to candidates and organizations that feel right to you.
- Memorize good news about Democrats. For instance, when Trump was elected, there were around 750 women candidates supported by Emily’s List, gaining financial support and assistance on how to run a campaign; right now, there are more than 23,000 women on Emily’s List. There are many positive examples, but there is also the onslaught of negativity from the GOP and Trump. Memorize the positive, and share it freely.