For once, I’m not going to focus on the negative. It goes without saying that the election results were a mixed bag, though mostly good.
Elrich won, but so did Hogan. Democrats had another shutout in MoCo. There were not many surprises, though I was pleasantly surprised to see Elrich trounce Nancy Floreen with 64% of the vote to her 19% (and Robin Ficker’s 16%). But I’ve gloated enough.
I’d like to take this holiday as an opportunity for ten things I’m thankful for that helped propel these Democratic victories.
1. MoCo voters and their exceptionally high midterm turnout. Lines in Silver Spring were out the door and around the block at times. The torrential downpours on Election Day morning didn’t stop enthusiastic and motivated voters from helping state and county legislators rack up the numbers.
2. Enthusiastic, determined candidates. While I mainly canvassed for Marc Elrich and Lorig Charkoudian, I gave my vote, my $25-$50 donation, and my word of mouth endorsement to many others who did not enjoy a full night of rest for at least 18 months straight. The schedules were grueling, the spirits were high, and the smiles were genuine – most of the time, anyway.
3. Fellow volunteers. On one hand, I feel like we can’t take too much credit because all of our campaign activities were optional and we could pick and choose to attend events and help out at our leisure. On the other hand, we did it all for free (ok, we were compensated in free food and good times). You take any one of us away, though, and Elrich may not have gotten the 77 votes that brought him over the top in the primary.
4. Campaign staff. Of course, how can we not thank the staff? In addition to the candidate’s grueling schedule, the campaign staff had the meta-task of making sure the candidate didn’t miss anything and then had to put up with his (or her, but mostly his) changes of mind or mood or frame of reference in time.
5. Labor advocates. For some reason, it has become in vogue in American political discourse to assume that unions and their leaders are inherently corrupt, but that the business community and corporate executives have our best interest in mind. Victorious Democratic candidates have to thank labor advocates for setting the record straight and showing the electorate the value of a living wage and paid sick and family leave.
6. Young people. Now, before I extend too much gratitude to the under-30 club (of which, alas, I am no longer a member), I do have to say that y’all still need to up your game. Young voters modestly increased in turnout but were still outclassed exponentially by their grandparents., according to Seventh State. That said, these lousy numbers surprised me, because general interactions with fellow Millennials and even Gen Z kids showed an enthusiasm and optimism I hadn’t seen since before the November 2016 disaster. I’d even say that Ben Jealous and Marc Elrich made politics cool again. But then again, this was in Silver Spring, so make of that what you will.
7. Neighbors. I could just list this as “old people,” but old age is arbitrary, so I’ll just say people in my neighborhood in Takoma Park as well as in other neighborhoods where I knocked doors (yes, including upcounty!) I thank neighbors for not shying away from talking politics and for not slamming the door in my face when they saw that I was a political canvasser interrupting their dinner or their nap. Thank you for being engaging and eager to learn, and of course, for voting.
8. People who disagree with me. Some of you might know who you are. I’ve had some polite debate (and sometimes less polite) with those with strong fiscally conservative convictions and who ultimately voted for my candidate’s opponent. I’ve also gotten mired in some very wonky debates on housing and infrastructure policy. Even if we still disagree, and even if we don’t even like each other, thank you. You’ve challenged my views, forced me to do more research, and to go back to my candidate to seek clarification of apparent logical inconsistencies and counterintuitive policy approaches. This just makes everything more interesting.
9. Small business owners. Thank you for using your own voices, since every politician and their surrogates think they can speak for you. Thank you for showing us that not all small businesses are the same or have the same priorities and operating pressures, just as not all regulations are applicable or helpful, but are also not all necessarily bad. Now you’ll get the chance to tell us which policies are most helpful to you.
The Washington Post’s salty tearsFact checkers and critical thinkers. We have a serious problem with local news coverage in Montgomery County. Instead of the Gazette, we have the Washington Post local news section, whose straight news coverage is frequently drowned out by their neoliberal/fiscally conservative editorial board. Filling in the gaps are Maryland Matters, pro-development blog GreaterGreaterWashington, and blogs like Seventh State, which, while well-written and substance-rich, still slant to the political preferences of their authors. And of course, there is this blog, the premium source of objective news. Just kidding. With a dearth of local news media that isn’t heavily editorialized, Montgomery County voters who take the initiative to fact check and critically think for themselves are what prevents democracy from dying in darkness.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!