On Nov. 7, the American people said “We are stressed over the war, frightened about our children’s future, worried about the demise of our pensions and the lack of affordable health care. Neither party is listening to us, nor are they responding to our needs. The Republicans have ignored the middle class and given large tax breaks to the wealthy. No tax break will boost my stagnant wages and help me balance my budget. Why isn’t Congress cutting back on the bridges to nowhere and trying to balance the national budget? The Republicans have had complete control of everything since 2000 and they are either incompetent or unconscious. It is time for them to go.
“We have seen our good will and patriotism abused, we have seen our civil rights trampled, we have seen the reputation of America gutted, we have seen more than 2,000 American soldiers — to say nothing of the thousands of innocent Iraqis — killed, and we have seen the hubris of this administration destroy much of what was good about our country.”
Paul Krugman of the New York Times called this election the great revulsion. The voters did not give the Democrats a mandate; they gave the party a chance to return civility to the discourse in Washington, D.C., and the country. They gave the Democrats an opportunity to remember their party roots.
Locally the rejuvenated Democrat party did well. There is now Sen. John Morse, in addition to the return of Rep. Michael Merrifield. The El Paso County Democratic voters performed 5 percent better than in 2004.
Typically, during off-year elections, Democrats stay home but this year there were more Democrat votes than in 2004 for the presidential race and that was an improvement from 2002. This bodes well for the future.
The Democrat party presented superior candidates across the board. These candidates and these races brought in new people: candidates, campaign chairmen and their staff, district chairmen, precinct chairmen and thousands of volunteers. Gone is the joke about El Paso County Democrats meeting in a phone booth.
The “Get Out The Vote” was well organized and thousands of calls were made. This countywide involvement helped the numbers throughout the state and helped to elect a Democrat state treasurer.
A Democrat governor will be friendlier to education. You can expect dramatic changes in all aspects of education. Practical issues such as health care and affordable drugs will again be discussed. Infrastructure and energy will once again be important and will be seriously addressed. Bedroom politics will not be an issue. As we recover from Republican control which seemed to push irrelevant issues, Democrats will care more about people than power.
The Democrats are ready to lead. There will be a collaboration rather than corrosive relationship. There will be planners, not partisans. There will truly be uniters, not dividers. However, they will hold Republicans responsible for their corruption and failures of leadership. They will have a sense of community that will focus on a government that will work for the common good. They will stay true to the middle class and will give ordinary people a voice and true power at all levels of government.
The American people are yearning for community and the Democrats, having been No. 2 for too long, will have to work harder. They must listen to all constituents and they must not back away from the tough decisions. They must improve the economy for the middle class and lower class. They must begin to solve the problem of the high cost of a college education. They must find a solution for the millions of under-and uninsured, especially the children and seniors. They must be willing to negotiate with drug companies and insurance companies to make life-saving drugs available at affordable costs. This election showed that Americans are desperate for stem cell research.
Employers must now learn to struggle with the fact that their employees can almost make a living wage.
The Democrats must govern with humility and sensitivity. Their reign must be less about power struggles and more about people. As former Gov. Howard Dean said, “We’re only getting started.”
Sharon Berthrong is a graduate of the 2000 Colorado Springs Leadership Class.