Up until the last few years, politics had little place in my day to day life. I was a news junkie, raised on TIME magazine, “Meet the Press” and dinner table discussions of world affairs; but the only thing political I did was vote. Politics meant Democrat or Republican, how everyone voted and who won.
The presidential election of 2016 blasted away my complacency and, apparently, that of millions of other Americans. Our belief that the power of the traditional two-party institutions would prevail proved untrue for both parties. 2017 opened the doors to a new political reality, resistance, the power of individuals motivated by inspiration.
The resistance movement was embraced by most Democrats but also by the unaffiliated, the nonpartisans, nonvoters and the anti-party. Callers, letter writers, tweeters and marchers are taking time out of their busy schedules to be heard – not as party members but as individuals who feel unheard and overlooked.
A whole industry of apps and programs related to political activism have blossomed on our smartphones and iPads. Check out apps like 5 Calls, Political Tracker, BuyPartisan and Congress.
In this new way, politics is becoming part of many people’s everyday lives. Even Facebook has a Town Hall button now that connects the individual to his or, more frequently, her representatives.
Inspirational politics has led to the formation of a myriad of groups that mobilize online first and face-to-face second. Groups like Indivisible, #resistance, Texas Pantsuit Republic, Planned Parenthood Votes, Our Revolution Texas, Voto Latino, Texas Organizing Project, Emerge USA and scores more.
Annie’s List, promoting progressive women in Texas politics, held a luncheon March 31 in Houston, attended by some 2,500 supporters.
In August, Dallas will host the national conference of the Young Democrats of America. Yes, in Texas. Monthly meetings of the Victoria County Democrats Club have been standing room only.
All this new energy will either water down or enrich the power of the party as an institution. Party leaders must learn new ways to identify and reach out to these passionate voices, many of which are critical and others whose truths make us uncomfortable. If the Democratic Party cannot come together with a meaningful agenda that reaches across geography, race, age and gender, then we are doomed to remain out of step with our own future.
Many feel the ugliness that the Trump presidency represents may be the shock it takes to get us to face up to the social and economic problems that we have allowed to fester for decades. Racism, sexism, xenophobia and intolerance have been given a place at the table, and the invitation needs to be rescinded.
That’s what the resistance is about. It’s not about what party won or lost. It’s about every American having a fair shot at the “Blessings of Liberty” as enumerated in our Constitution.
Pat Tally is the chairwoman of the Victoria County Democratic Party. Before retiring to Victoria, she was the director of a clinical social work department in a large Dallas hospital system for 22 years. She may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story originally appeared 4/9/2017 in the Victoria Advocate.