Election night blues

Jeff vonKaenel

Last Tuesday was not a very good night for Democrats. They lost the Senate. They lost seats in the House of Representatives. And worse, they seemed to lose their way.

Pundits and political spin doctors are trying to explain away this defeat, saying the party of a president in his second term usually loses. Or the Democrats had too many vulnerable seats. Or the president should have done more. Or the president should have done less.

But the simple and painful truth is that not enough people who would have benefited from Democratic programs bothered to vote. The turnout was horrible.

Voting is not hard. Americans spend many hours each day watching television and checking social media. Most Americans could have found a few minutes to go down to the polls, or to mail in their ballot.

There were no long lines. While admittedly long waits have been a problem in the past, especially in minority districts in Republican states, this was not the problem last week.

This November, many voters—who are in the 99 percent of Americans that personally benefit from many of the Democratic programs, and who will not benefit from the Republican-supported tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy—chose not to vote.

The reason is simple. They did not believe it mattered to them. They did not believe that it was worth taking a few minutes of their time to vote. But why?

I believe the Democrats have not adequately communicated how their programs are important to an average American. And the Democrats have been afraid to take courageous stands supporting the poor and the middle class.

The Democrats should have supported a progressive campaign that dealt with the increasing income inequality in America, such as the program advocated by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

The Democrats should have called for one set of law enforcement for all Americans, instead of our current system with one set of standards for the very rich and another for the rest of us.

Imagine that instead of running attack ads, Democrats had committed to raising the national minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. This would go a long way toward replacing what inflation has taken away since the 1960s.

Imagine that Democrats had pointed out that the Bush tax cuts for the rich have not helped the economy, and that they then advocated repealing them and using the money to put hundreds of thousands of Americans to work repairing our crumbling roads, schools, bridges and infrastructure.

Imagine that the Democrats had demanded that the bankers, who ignored financial regulations to rip off their fellow citizens, had to serve jail time instead of returning only part of their illegal gains.

Imagine if President Barack Obama had not delayed immigration reform until after the election.

If this was the reality, I think you could imagine voters who would have found the time to vote.

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About the Author

Jeff vonKaenel
Jeff vonKaenel is the president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno.