July 16, 2018
As I have travelled across our country over the last two years on behalf of good men and women running for elected office, concerned Americans constantly ask, “where is the statement of beliefs that lays out clearly what we stand for as a Party, and as a people?” Indeed, one senior statesman in exasperation told me, “if you stopped ten people on the street and asked them what the Democratic Party stands for, you would get ten different answers.”
And yet, Democratic challengers up and down the ballot are running and winning elections against Republican incumbents in greater numbers than ever. And in some places, young challengers are defeating longtime Democratic incumbents. So, there must be something to what these new candidates are saying. What’s more, the quality of our candidates running for state, local, and federal offices has never been higher. And the bench has never been deeper.
Why? What is the common thread in their winning messages? Is it simply that Donald Trump is bad? Not if you speak with these candidates and listen to the conversations they are having with voters.
From what I have seen, touched, and heard, their electoral success comes not merely from railing against the latest outrages of this aberrational, authoritarian Presidency — though our candidates are not shy about calling out the lies and the abuses. But, what I have heard from our winning candidates is not a Trump-focused message; our winning candidates, instead, are speaking to timeless American values, they are speaking to the economic hopes of every American family to get ahead when we work hard, and they are calling forward the goodness within us as a people to make those kitchen table hopes a reality.
As Connor Lamb said on the night of his upset win in Pittsburgh, “we send people to Congress to attack our problems, not to attack one another.”
It is a call to action on behalf of a better America for all of our kids. A call to put country before party. To put people first. To make our country a place where there is, once again, opportunity for all.
It is a call to save our democracy — in our own home place — so we can save our country.