A year ago, writing about Donald Trump was clickbait for me. People loved to pile on about all that was wrong with him. The comments section was littered with anti-Trump disdain. We wanted him gone, gone, gone.
And when he did go, and I dared to write about him, I heard loud and clear that no one wanted to talk about, hear about, or think about him anymore. My last column that included Trump was in June, and so many people said, "Please stop writing about him." I actually got a lengthy DM from a reader that said he was angry that we were still giving "the a*****e attention. He doesn't matter anymore."
I agreed 100 percent, and though I talked to his niece Mary Trump about her new book, which dealt with our history of systemic racism, we barely spoke about her uncle.
Our community is overwhelmingly Democratic, with some independents and Republicans. After writing this column for over two years, that's become clear to me. And so I usually concentrate on writing about issues, legislators and advocates who support our causes, or Democratic policies we care about.
I wrote about doing away with the Senate filibuster and passing voting rights in July, and how things started to go wrong for Democrats in August with inaction on President Joe Biden's bills, the Afghanistan withdrawal, and the spread of the Delta variant. And how all of this did not bode well for the party and for Biden in the upcoming off-year election.
Yesterday was Election Day, and it could be described as doomsday for Democrats. Things went very wrong for them, and it's because they did not learn the lesson that I did: Stop talking about Trump. Ironically, the governor-elect in Virginia, Glenn Youngkin, did. He kept Trump at arm's length and proved that Trump is all bark, no bite, and doesn't matter anymore.
Granted, Youngkin allowed culture war lies to spread about critical race theory and trans bathrooms, and alarmingly creating fear around a book by a Nobel Prize winner. It was a racist dog whistle -- more like a bullhorn -- campaign. He relied on Trump's dark strategy without relying on Trump to stoke it.
I was appalled at Democratic candidate and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe's campaign. He did nothing but talk about Trump, the return of Trump, and that Youngkin was the second coming of Trump. He repeatedly said that if Youngkin was elected, we'd go back to the days of Trump. It was Trump, Trump, Trump. Even when President Biden went to campaign for him, the president talked about Trump.
Biden did the same thing in New Jersey when he went to campaign for embattled Gov. Phil Murphy, whose race with Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli is, at this writing, still too close to call.
Murphy ran an interesting ad about moving forward, but everyone who campaigned on his behalf was looking in the rearview mirror: Ciattarelli is Trump lite, he's just like Trump. He supported the insurrectionists -- that was actually a frequently aired ad by the Democrats. It was all about tying Ciattarelli to Trump.
And all this happened because the Democrats have not accomplished one thing to brag about, to campaign on, and to prompt their constituents and voters to proudly go cast their votes for Democrats.
The news has been all about intra-party fighting, progressives versus moderates, and daily reports about which way the wind is blowing for West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and our supposed LGBTQ+ Sen. Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona.
The Democratic candidates in yesterday's election tried to run a national campaign that was all about Trump because they had nothing to talk about, nothing to hang their hat on, and nothing to show for their complete control in Washington.
At this stage, a Democratic House + a Democratic Senate + a Democratic President = ZERO.
Couple this with a supply chain crisis -- that has nothing to do with Democrats, that's led to inflation, product shortages, and higher prices on store shelves and at gas pumps. It was the confluence of no good news for voters, particularly ones who need child care to return to work, who want their roads and bridges and power plants upgraded, and who overwhelmingly support legislation aimed at mitigating destruction from climate change.
And finally, for people of color, who want all of these things and the freedom to cast their votes in elections in their states without inhibition. The Democrats have sat on their hands while state after state tears away voting rights, and if you're Black or otherwise a person of color, that should be a huge affront to you.Why would you go support the Democrats? Or even bother to try to vote when it's so difficult?
Even Texas passing its anti-abortion law in the state and getting tacit approval from the Supreme Court that is allowing other states to pass similar measures did nothing to sway female voters.
Did any of this prompt women, people of color, or the LGBTQ+ community to come out in droves to support Democrats yesterday? No. Quite the opposite. I'll just provide one example among the many. Fifty-seven percent of women in Virginia supported Youngkin.
All of this should scare the bejesus out of Democrats and light a fire under their hindquarters. Their petty infighting needs to end now. They need to pass Biden's legislation now. They need to stop kowtowing to Manchin and Sinema, and these two senators need to look beyond their own self-interest and get on board.
For example, how can a senator from one of the poorest states in the country be against a billionaire's tax? The party needs to ride Manchin hard and start communicating with his constituents via a barrage of ads and social media posts about all that he is holding up. Equally with Sinema, who defies explanation about her lack of explanations.
Finally, President Biden needs to wake up from that nap at the U.N. COP Climate Change Conference and go full-throttle for his bills, for voting rights, for abortion rights, for LGBTQ+ rights, and start going out into the country to fire up voters, particularly in districts where their members of Congress are wavering on support of his bills.
Biden has played around with bipartisanship long enough. Republicans are joined at the hip, under Mitch McConnell's iron grip, in thwarting everything the Democrats are doing.
They knew damn well that while Americans take umbrage at what happened on January 6, they could care less about who was responsible, and that's deceitful but true. And Republicans know how to be further deceitful by slicing the electorate in pieces through divisive social issues. That's been their mainstay since Nixon in 1968, and they used it this fall.
The Republicans don't and will not play fair. They will use as threats to our democracy Blacks, other people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, immigrants, and on and on and on. It turns out McConnell was right. The Republicans don't need Trump anymore; they just need his dirty and destructive playbook.
It's time for the Democrats to do their job and not ignore Republicans but step all over them to get done what is needed. If Democrats don't take advantage of their majorities, if they don't get rid of the filibuster and pass their bills, if they don't hammer home how they will protect America's kitchen table concerns for the future, and if they keep harping on Trump, it will be a disaster in 2022.
The Republicans realized last night they don't need Donald Trump. The Democrats need to understand that they don't need him either.