Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton Nov. 8. Unless Clinton defeated herself, or white men or white women defeated her. Or the working poor did. Unless it was Bernie Sanders, poor turnout or the great ongoing voter suppression effort by Republicans in every state.
Whatever happened, Democrats and those to the Left of Democrats in Chicago are struggling to figure it out, and Logan Square’s youngest alderman is in the thick of it.
Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), as progressive an alderman as you’ll find, has set forth his explanation for the stunning loss already on social media. While votes were being counted — around 10:30 p.m. Nov. 8, when it was clear Clinton had lost several states and was trailing in several more, and had essentially no chance — Rosa took to Facebook to rip corporate Democrats for losing the election.
If Trump wins the Presidency tonight the blame should be squarely placed on the establishment neoliberal Democrats that colluded to nominate Hillary over Bernie. Bernie would have swept this election, and Trump’s closing message was essentially Bernie’s anti-establishment, pro-working class message. Neoliberal Democrats cared more about their corporate agenda than the Black and Brown people whose votes were needed to elect a Democrat to the White House.
The next morning, he added:
MORNING AFTER EDIT: And let’s be clear, regular Hillary supporters are not “establishment neoliberal Democrats,” I’m talking about rich Clinton donors, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Donna Brazile, and powerful Democratic electeds like Rahm Emanuel. The rich and powerful that lead the DNC pushed the less electable candidate because they cared more about their bottom line than what would happen to Black and Brown people under a Trump presidency.
I’m prepared to take to the streets and fight for social and economic justice. I’m prepared to fight to elect true progressives in 2018, candidates that reject the neoliberal corporate agenda and speak to and represent the interests of Black, Brown and White working class people.
Just for fun and for full disclosure, I liked the post on Facebook, but did not comment.
Naturally, many did. Some criticized Rosa for appearing to vent at Democratic voters — thus the edit Rosa made — while the majority agreed with him.
Rosa repeatedly linked to a widely shared article on the Guardian UK by Thomas Frank that argues Democrats invited the defeat in various ways, primarily by adhering to establishment politics so much that they lost the votes of working-class people.
Since the election, Rosa has shared posts by Chicago political figure Troy LaRaviere, Sen. Bernie Sanders, New York Daily News writer Shaun King and one about Michael Moore, all arguing that the Democratic Party lost Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania because it failed to respond to middle-class and working-class anger.
Rosa’s anti-establishment push hasn’t been well-received by all. On his election-night message, Democratic campaign strategist Will Caskey, a partner at Chicago opposition research group Stanford Caskey, responded “with love” that Rosa should “Shut the fuck up.” Rosa linked to the Guardian article and suggested Caskey say the same to Thomas Frank, then told Caskey he shared the blame for “propping up corporate Democrats.”
Stanford Caskey has campaigned for Rahm Emanuel for Mayor, Joe Berrios for Cook County Assessor and Danny Solis for Alderman, among others.
Rosa followed the corporate Democrats comment with a heart emoji.
These conversations aren’t too different from the conversations playing out across Facebook, Twitter and even the dumb, non-virtual real world. But Rosa’s position as the youngest alderman, already one of the most visible on city council, makes his take on the election much more notable.
Other young guns in the progressive wing of the Democratic party have made similar statements. Rep. Will Guzzardi (39th), who represents much of Logan Square in the Illinois House, offered a Facebook post today in which he attributed the loss to two factors: the racism of a declining white population, and the economic frustration of voters who feel they’re becoming poorer.
The central message of Hillary Clinton’s campaign — “America is already great!” — not only alienated lots of people of color for whom that’s certainly not true but also lots of people whom the economy has left behind.
Donald Trump tells people the problem with the economy is Mexicans, Muslims, and trade deals. Bruce Rauner says it’s unions, unions and unions. But they’re both lying.
It’s THEM. The problem is THEM. Trump and Rauner and billionaires like them, making more money than ever while the rest of us struggle, dodging their taxes, hoarding the wealth, buying the political system, and using their gilded megaphone to tell us “government is broke” and “blame the guy next door.”
Until we can tell that story clearly, we will keep losing.
Comments on Guzzardi’s post echoed his sentiments, although some asked why he didn’t raise the issue of sexism as well. One commenter called it “confusing and alienating” that Guzzardi didn’t mention misogyny.
Hairpin Event Plans Next Steps
Guzzardi, Rosa and dozens of others in the neighborhood shared an event focused on what progressives can do next, taking place at 4 pm Nov. 12 at Hairpin Arts Center (2810 N. Milwaukee Ave.). The event, Emergency Meeting: Next Steps to Fight Hate, is hosted by Guzzardi with organizational help from United Neighbors of the 35th Ward, a group that helped elect Rosa.
At the event, Guzzardi will lead a discussion on how to fight back against Trump. Over 600 people have expressed interest on Facebook.
Cover photo: Steve Weishampel
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