The Democratic View: Finding a Way Forward

By Kathy Zahler

“In the NBA,” Dwyane Wade once said, “you could lose tonight, and you have to put that game behind you because you have another game the next night.”
Losing is painful, but life goes on, and the world does not have time to watch us wallow in our pain. If you are on social media, you have seen countless reactions to the Democrats’ losses on November 8. The best, most useful reactions, in my opinion, are the ones that suggest a way forward.
As I write this column, House Republicans have just walked back their decision to sap the power of their own Independent Ethics Office. The reason for their change in heart appears to be the outpouring of righteous anger from constituents. Resistance to bad ideas gets results. Resistance to Bad Ideas is one way forward.
Many of us are convinced that action at the local level will be the best way to temper a radical right agenda at the national level. We have local examples of this: A municipal law preventing heavy industry in Dryden helped lead to a ban on fracking. Cornell students, faculty and alumni are developing a plan to make the university a sanctuary for undocumented students. Local Action is one way forward.
Just as a team watches film after a losing game to locate weaknesses and modify play, so are the Democrats reviewing recent campaigns to determine what we can do better the next time out. We are not waiting four years – we are taking a serious, pragmatic look at local elections in 2017, and state and Congressional elections in 2018. Revising the Game Plan is one way forward.
To help us at the local level as we revise our game plan, the Tompkins County Democratic Committee invites all registered Democrats in the county to a listening meeting, titled “Next Steps for Tompkins County Democrats.” The event will take place from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, January 28, in the Borg Warner Room of the Tompkins County Public Library and will be moderated by Kirby Edmonds of TFC Associates. Democrats are invited to share their feelings, concerns and ideas for next steps, especially locally.
Rather than simply being a venue for venting – although venting is certainly allowed – ideally this session will produce ideas for improvement that will carry us through 2017 and beyond. We will be recording suggestions and sorting through them to come up with a modified game plan that will be inclusive, expansive, and achievable.
In the weeks since November 8, town and ward Democratic committees have seated many new members, people of all ages who felt called to join through a desire to “do something.” Now is the time to decide what that “something” will look like! Will we have rapid response teams to offer Resistance to Bad Ideas? Will we look for ways to counter federal shifts to the right through Local Action? Will we Revise the Game Plan for local and state elections by reaching out and sharing our message with people who have abandoned the party and communities that feel left behind by both parties?
My guess is that our listening meeting will result in some combination of all of the above, but I can also guarantee that there are exciting, innovative ideas out there that none of us has yet considered. Please join us for a morning of listening, sharing ideas, and moving forward.
If you cannot attend but have ideas for moving forward, please send them to Tompkins County Democratic Chair Irene Stein at
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Kathy Zahler is director of communications for the Tompkins County Democratic Committee.