After the shocking Trump victory, what is next for us Democrats?
In his day after the election post Michael Moore nailed it: “Take over the Democratic Party and return it to the people. They have failed us miserably.”
There is no other place where Moore’s advice is more needed than in Prince George’s County. Our Democratic Party establishment practices total machine politics and actively ignores the needs and opinions of the people.
Take this 2016 election season as an example. Our Democratic establishment quietly added Question D to the ballot to create two new at large seats to the County Council. The only reason for this proposal was for the incumbent County Council members to be able circumvent voter-approved term limits and stay in office. The issue was buried among the bond questions on the ballot, and voters’ mail boxes were saturated with fake “Democratic sample ballots” advocating for passage of Question D. Not surprisingly, this tactic worked like a charm and the two at large seats were approved.
Our Democratic establishment also pushed relentlessly for its preferred candidates in the school board elections through the same “Democratic sample ballots” that were used to promote Question D. This was done despite the fact that school board elections are supposed to be nonpartisan contests and the Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee had not made endorsements in the races.
There is nothing new in the Democratic political machine trying to manipulate our local elections. Every time there is a primary election—the only races that usually matter in our overwhelmingly Democratic county—our incumbent politicians pool their resources by forming slates and using sample ballot advertisements. Because it is nearly impossible for challengers to match the pooled resources of the incumbent politicians, these slates and sample ballots provide nearly foolproof incumbency protection. The sample ballots also enable the establishment to decide who wins any lower ballot open races, as the candidates chosen to be on the incumbent sample ballot almost always win. Thus, our incumbent politicians are gatekeepers to elected office, and the slates and sample ballots are the glue that keeps the political machine together.
In order for us to return the Prince George’s County Democratic Party to the people, we must break this political machine. At this time, I see only one strategy to achieve this: We must fight fire with fire, starting in the 2018 primary election. We must recruit good independent-minded candidates for many, if not all, political offices in the county. These candidates must collaborate, pool their resources, and run relentless grassroots campaigns. Defeating the Prince George’s political machine won’t be easy, but we must do the right thing and fight for the people.
The 2018 primary election is still some ways off. In the meantime, it is important for Prince George’s county grassroots activists to work on high priority local issues, such as giving power back to the people by returning to an all-elected school board. However, I see no meaningful change happening in Prince George’s County until we oust the establishment politicians who control the political machine and ignore the will of the people.