One week after a nationwide wave of populist, conservative discontent helped Donald J. Trump win the presidency and Republicans retain majorities in both houses of the U.S. Congress, community leaders called for frustrated New Haveners to work together to protect abortion rights, protect immigrants, and prepare voters for the next election.
Dori Dumas, president of the Greater New Haven NAACP, called for more volunteers to help out with her branch’s year-round voter registration and civic education drives. Mary Elizabeth Smith, program director at Junta for Progressive Action, encouraged all New Haveners to participate in Junta’s regular Know Your Rights clinics. Susan Yolen, vice president at Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, asked for more friendly faces to volunteer at their Whitney Avenue office on Saturdays to help welcome patients otherwise greeted by a weekly encampment of abortion protesters.
Well over 100 people filled the church’s pews to participate in a conversation that focused on how best to respond to the surprising results of last week’s state and national elections, and how best to plan for a Donald J Trump presidency that has members this country’s religious, racial, and gender minorities worried.
The two hour conversation was moderated by Inner City News Editor, WNHH radio host and Delta sister Babz Rawls-Ivy. She coaxed expert understanding and strategies for survival from a panel of academic, political, and activist guest speakers, including Quinnipiac associate professor Khalilah Brown-Dean, State Sen. Gary Winfield, and Mayor Toni Harp.
Kai M. Perry, the social action chair for the New Haven alumnae chapter of the Deltas, set the tone for the event early in the evening as she led the audience through an exercise in group meditation, imploring those in attendance to breathe in deeply for hope and then exhale their fears and concerns.
“Breathe in for racial justice,” she said, her eyes shut and her hands over her diaphragm. “Exhale. Breathe in for affordable quality health care for women, girls, all of us. Exhale. Breathe in for the hopes you have for our community, and for a commitment to collective action. Exhale.”
As the evening progressed, each speaker sought to undergird that balance of hope and fear, breath and exhale, with a pointed look forward to the community organizing.
The first speaker of the evening was political scientist and public media analyst Brown-Dean, who explained some of the legal history, demographic trends and political mobilization that led to President-elect Trump’s upset victory last Tuesday.
Brown-Dean paced through slide after slide of maps and statistics that covered the Shelby v. Holder Supreme Court decision to Trump’s barbershop get-out-the-vote initiatives. Trump’s victory was not the result of a much-bandied idea that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s candidacy suffered from a fatal “enthusiasm gap,” she explained. Rather, the election turned out the way it did because of the success of a decades-long push from conservative lawyers and judges to weaken the 1965 Voting Rights Act, as well as a sustained appeal from Republican lawmakers towards evangelical Christians and working-class voters skeptical of government insiders and longing for political change.
“We have to get away from the idea that says that just because you look like me, you must think like me and vote like me too,” she said, pointing towards exit polls that showed that 16 percent of African American men with college degrees and 11 percent of African American men without college degrees voted for Trump.
State Sen. Winfield took the stage next, bringing the conversation from the national to the state level.
“We were caught flatfooted,” he said, referring to Republican gains in Connecticut’s State Senate and General Assembly. (The makeup of the Senate is now evenly split between Democrats and Republicans.) “We went from having basically a super majority a few years ago to a divided State Senate today. We knew that a wave was coming our way, but we didn’t sit down and figure out what the message of the Connecticut Democratic Party was. Our state party was largely silent while the Republicans talked incessantly about businesses leaving Connecticut. And that was a big problem.”
One of the solutions, he suggested, is not just for the Democratic Party to better iron out its message, but also for reliably Democratic New Haven voters to dedicate their time and effort and money, when possible, to more embattled districts around the state.
“If you want to see the whole state adopt some of the policies that the people who are elected here push for,” he said, “we need the numbers. Because right now, it’s very difficult to get anything done.”
Mayor Harp spoke about New Haven as a sanctuary city for its immigrant population, and how it will remain committed to protecting the rights of all of its residents regardless of the prevailing disposition of the national or state government. She warned of continued cuts to municipal funding from the state, and how a divided and recalcitrant government in Hartford will make it all the more difficult for New Haven to deliver on its commitment to social services.
She ended on a call to community-organizing arms: a message that everyone in the room was eager to hear as they sought to rally themselves from the surprise and fear resulting from last week’s election.
“Don’t move to Canada, stay here in fight,” she ended. “I believe we have to fight.”
posted by: Babz Rawls Ivy on November 16, 2016 11:33am
Time well spent! Wonderful conversation. I so appreciated Dr. Brown-Dean setting the tone by laying out the analysis of the election from the national perspective followed by Senator Winfield and Mayor Harp.
Thanks to Tom Breen for capturing the breadth and depth of the evening. it was a 2 hour commitment of time… He didn’t just run in and run out. He stayed through it’s entirety.
I have no doubt the members of The New Haven Alumnae Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. will host a series of these community conversations.
posted by: THREEFIFTHS on November 16, 2016 6:04pm
Give me a break.The two-party duopoly is rotten to the core.This is nothing more then the Democrats selling you all Snake-Oil. How come third parties was not at this forum. The DNC gambled, and lost.They picked the wrong nominee.Now across this country the Democrats are trying to clean up. People wake up.The donkey and the elephant symbols of the two dominant political parties are tied at the hip.We need to untie the donkey and the elephant and put them on a raft and push them out to sea.The problem is the two-party stranglehold on our political system.We now have an electoral system that always chooses between two evils.The political system should belong equally to every citizen. And the way we must do this is to go to the system of Proportional Representation.
What Are The Advantages Of PR?
Greater voter turn-out (typically 70-90%) because there are more choices for voters—third, fourth, fifth parties and more from diverse perspectives including more women and minorities elected.
What’s Wrong With Only Two Parties?
Two parties limit the voters’ choices. U.S. citizens would never accept an economic system that allowed us to buy cars from only two companies, or to choose from only two airlines. Why then, should we have to settle for just two options in politics? It’s no wonder such a large portion of the U.S. electorate decides not to participate. They’re not buying what the two parties are selling.
Fannie Lou Hamer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.
Hamer and others had concluded that the only way to oppose the segregated Mississippi political machine was to establish a racially integrated Democratic Party, which they did in April, naming it the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP). During Freedom
Our people have to become registered voters, but we first have to get a better understand of politics. We go into politics in a gullible way, an emotional way. When politics is cold blooded and heartless, we must first learn the science of politics, and we should not take sides with either party. We should not sell ourselves to either party——MALCOLM X (from his lecture at Harvard Law School , 1964)
Even Dr.king said
Both political parties have betrayed the cause of justice. The Democrats have betrayed it by capitulating to the prejudice, and undemocratic practices of the Southern Dixiecrats . The Republicans have betrayed it by capitulating to the blatant hypocrisy of the right wing reactionary Northerners——-DR. KING
So people do not drink the Kool-aid or fall for the snake-oil being sold to you.
1. Nobody is moving to Canada - Not even the horrified Hollywood crowd let alone anybody from New Haven.
2. Nationally, Democrats lost for the same reason Democrats lost in Connecticut - incompetence and a tin ear to the plight of working class Americans.
3. Winfield says they saw a wave coming? No they didn’t. They thought Trump would be drowned here and elsewhere - they were projecting a gain in seats, not losses from one end of the country to the other. Democrats lost governorship(s); legislatures and gained almost nothing in Congress despite slicing and dicing us through identity politics. At home, they lost seats in both the House and Senate.
4. Winfield says Democrats didn’t have a message. Yes, they did. Higher taxes; massive debts; massive and endless deficits; higher healthcare costs in part from taxing hospitals by $500,000,000 - combined with flat wages, limited economic opportunity and worries over employment and company stability. That’s the message.
5. Quit whistling past the graveyard and pretending it’s more complicated. It’s not.
posted by: 1644 on November 16, 2016 8:01pm
“[T]he Republicans talked incessantly about businesses leaving Connecticut. And that was a big problem.” It remains a big problem, problem state Democrats have only made worse, and will continue to make worse. In spite of Republican gains, Democrats still control all branches of state government. For many years, they have been making Connecticut more hostile to business (less profitable) and to the wealthy. Party loyalty and HRC coat tails (gown train?) saved the state level Democrats. The state is in deep, deep trouble, fiscally right behind Puerto Rico in fiscal mismanagement. Its capital city is insolvent with a bankruptcy filing a inevitable formality. The state needs new management.
posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on November 16, 2016 11:39pm
I’m still waiting to read exactly what this forum accomplished.
Threefifths was exactly correct, the Democrats offered up a horrible candidate. The Clinton campaign spent the bulk of their money on television ads instead of putting it all on the streets in Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin. She ran an Al Gore type campaign and never clearly illustrated the contrast between this current economy with the unemployment rate cut in half vs. what we as Democrats inherited from the Bush administration. So I say enough of the pathetic whining. Donald Trump is the next president of the United States whether you like it or not. Get over it!
Our party is saturated with a bunch of lazy and pathetic elected officials who are a bunch of microphone grabbers quick to tell us what we did wrong or what we need to do when they themselves do nothing but opine and publicly pretend to be substantive. Young vibrant people need to run for these offices.
Many black and Hispanic voters seldom if ever research the platitudes conveyed by elected officials simply because they spend too much time falling over themselves just to be in their company. This is exactly what elected officials love, voters who dare to hold them accountable. And it’s because of this reluctance to weed out the bad for the good, that Republicans will be in charge of this state in the next gubernatorial election.
This stance by the mayor to fight to keep the “sanctuary city” status as the destruction of it looms, is laughable. What’s your position mayor if and when Donald Trump pulls the money? That’s a question the mayor will refuse to answer. It is also a question people like Babz and others will never ask of her in a public setting.
The mayor’s next campaign will be to continue to opine about a revenue shortfall as a pretense to raise our taxes. Hey Mayor!! We don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending, and it’s your fault.
posted by: 1644 on November 17, 2016 8:41am
Brian: The mayor was pretty clear about immigration enforcement on Mayor Monday. The city will sue to keep funding, but cannot afford to lose funding. New Haven does not pay its own way. It depends on state and federal funding for about half of its budget. Federal funds might be 25% or more of the budget. The city cannot afford to lose those funds, and will do what is needed to keep them. Pivot: HRC pretty much ignored the people of the midwest. The economy has recovered in Calif. and NY, but not in much of the mid-west. Moreover, many of HRC’s policies, on fossil fuels in particular, impose a great deal of economic pain on residents of Ohio, West Virginia, etc. As for CT, in spite of its proximity to NY and other recovered areas, the economy is stagnant and the balance sheet gets worse even as the national recovery proceeds. One reason is costly progressive programs that Malloy and Democrats have championed. These have helped targeted groups, but hobbled the state such that it may fall, collapsing like Hartford and Puerto Rico as its tax base disappears. We need change in Hartford.
posted by: Noteworthy on November 17, 2016 9:44am
The mayor wants to file a federal lawsuit to keep the money even if a law is passed, or regulations are adopted that say this is not possible. Uh, ok. The city’s history with lawsuits over sketchy behavior is rotten. All we do is pay the lawyers. That account is in the red already. And the city’s position is going to be - we’re breaking the law, we’re aiding others who are breaking the law - that’s ok. Just give us the money. With all due respect, when my kids break my rules, they break the privileges. They have been told more than once - get on your own, pay your own bills, make your own rules. One would think the mayor is old enough to understand that concept.
posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on November 17, 2016 11:18am
“The city will sue to keep funding, but cannot afford to lose funding. New Haven does not pay its own way. It depends on state and federal.” Smoke and mirrors my friend. This show of tepid bravado by the mayor means absolutely nothing. If, or when the federal government withdraws its funding, the only thing the mayor can do is listen to high priced lawyers lie to her (and she will follow their advice), telling her that they can retrieve the lost funding. Bull &)@@&$$&$&
New Haven is about 85% Democratic. So I ask you, do you think the Republican congress, senate or president care about New Haven losing its funding? They’re salivating over the idea to take the money.
Again I reiterate, the city has a huge spending problem and the mayor is the number one culprit. If the mayor were prudent, but she isn’t. She would make draconian cuts in areas of wastefulness. Sadly, she listens to people like Nemerson who sways her to sit when she feels standing.
Finally, fasten your seatbelts, because here comes a massive storm in the name of a tax increase. Just remember where you heard it from first.
posted by: Noteworthy on November 17, 2016 1:21pm
It is interesting that none of the posers who pretend the problem is the messaging and not the messengers and their individual and collective competence - populate the story but never the comments. Love to hear some feedback from those who are giving the Tom Sawyer treatment to our problems and their electoral defeat.
posted by: 1644 on November 17, 2016 1:52pm
Brian: Why do you attack Nemerson? He is doing his job of trying to expand the Grand List. The Grand List is the city’s one, independent source of revenue. Towns like Branford, with healthy Grand Lists, have a AAA bond rating in part because they can operate independently of any state or federal aid. New Haven would collapse into bankruptcy without state and federal aid. (Dependence on outside money is a huge negative factor in any town’s bond rating, because it leaves a town at the mercy of outsiders.)
posted by: THREEFIFTHS on November 17, 2016 1:54pm
The Clinton Campaign Was Undone By Its Own Neglect And A Touch Of Arrogance, Staffers Say In key battleground states, calls for help weren’t taken seriously enough.
posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on November 17, 2016 6:13pm
Nemerson’s done absolutely nothing to expand the grand list. The only expansion he’s been able to accomplish was to ensure that the people who once worked for him at his Economic Development Corporation located at 195 Church St., are now working at 165 Church St. CITY HALL! Please, don’t let me get started on what he did in terms of decimating the small business community. He personally maneuvered to have Nicole Jefferson removed from a position in which she was flourishing under only to have his guy placed in her position. If he was being paid for results, he would’ve been fired a long time ago. But because he has a boss that just holds certain people accountable, his ineptness is purposely ignored.
Moreover, when all is said and done, Mayor Harp and her sidekick Nemerson, are going to cost the taxpayers huge sums of money for their blunder to have her removed. Now, I don’t call that economic development, I call that economic disaster.