Anger is the most abundant renewable energy source in the world, and Democrats have successfully harnessed it — not through the moribund infrastructure of the Democratic Party, but rather through grassroots organizing. On the one year anniversary of the Women’s March, it is clear that the marchers were not kidding when they chanted, “We won’t go away!” They returned home and began to organize and work independently.
The Women’s March itself was an organizational bust. Its leadership has been distracted by the innumerable pet causes of the left and serious organizations have not, by all appearances, arisen. However, the march served as more than an outlet for expression; it acted as a catalyst for independent political organizing by its millions of participants. Their energy, fueled by outrage (a recent CNN poll found that 72 percent of women described themselves as “angry” at the way the nation is being governed) and spite for President Trump, has politically mobilized an unprecedented number of women at the national and local levels.
This should terrify Republicans.
As I wrote right after the Women’s March, we Republicans needed to reach out to the women who took part in the demonstration and show that we are a party committed to dealing with issues important to them. We ignored this and did so at our own peril. Today, we are coming off a 2017 that saw Democrats exceed expectations and even dominate in multiple electoral contests. No expert could have predicted the thorough routing Republicans suffered in November 2017.
And the two groups primarily responsible for delivering these results for Democrats? Women and millennials; the main participants in the Women’s March. These demographics delivered for Democratic candidates across the country in 2017; far more than they did for Hillary Clinton a year earlier.
Democrats swept last November’s gubernatorial races. In Virginia, Democrat Ralph Northam won the women’s vote by 22 points, a five point improvement over Hillary Clinton’s considerable 2016 margin. More striking, Northam won 54 percent of married women, long a core GOP constituency, a seven point gain on Clinton. In New Jersey, Democrat Phil Murphy won women 55-43, almost flipping Chris Christie’s 57-42 2013 margin. The shift among young women was even more pronounced. Christie lost voters under thirty years old by a respectable 2 points in 2013; last year Murphy came two points shy of winning the same group by a three-to- one margin at 73-25.
Even more troublesome is how Democrats carried smaller local races too. In Virginia, they picked up fourteen seats to nearly take control of the House of Delegates, many in previously uncompetitive “safe GOP” seats. In Westchester County, incumbent County Executive Rob Astorino lost by 14 points despite having won his last race for the seat with 56 percent of the vote. Turnout jumped dramatically, with 20 percent more of the electorate casting ballots.
Putting it simply: Suburban women, whom we Republicans have used to give us House and Senate victories over the past eight years, are rejecting Donald Trump and the Republican Party. If just a small percentage of these suburban women were to continue the trend of 2017 and shift from voting for Republicans to Democrats in 2018, Democrats would almost certainly hold the majority in the House of Representatives.
Despite all of this, the Women’s March has encountered its fair share of problems. They lack a central policy philosophy or goal. Instead, the movement is built more on the vexation at Trump and the GOP. If one were to ask twenty different members what the Women’s March is trying to achieve, you would be met with twenty different answers.
The biggest problem that the Women’s March has encountered is its own leadership. It allowed itself to be taken over and claimed by extremist gargoyles, who used the organization to advocate for morally repugnant views and individuals. Convicted terrorists, cop killers and other despicable individuals were celebrated, while it was declared that zionists could not be feminists. When CNN’s Jake Tapper questioned the wisdom of praising the fugitive cop killer Assata Shakur, he was labeled a member of the Alt-Right. It defied logic and pushed away its own membership.
Organizational and moral failures, as well as other problems, were contributing factors to smaller grassroots networks springing up across the country and being successful. Yes, the Women’s March activated the political involvement of millions of Americans throughout the nation, but it did not remain the central hub.
Now, all signs point to these activists being poised to help deliver a blue wave in the upcoming midterm elections.
Believing that 2018 will produce few legislative accomplishments, the White House and GOP leadership are signaling that selling the results of the 2017 legislative session is the way to stave off disaster. Such a defense against the rising tide is far from sufficient. Neil Gorsuch and tax reform are not enough to hang our hats on. The former, while a superb conservative jurist, only marginally helps incumbent GOP senators. Tax reform will likely not pay dividends for us at the ballot box. The bill itself is widely viewed by the electorate as benefiting the wealthy and corporations more than the middle class. While many Americans will enjoy larger paychecks,
the national malaise is far stronger. Despite a stellar economy that should have benefited GOP candidates in 2017, voters still chose Democrats. Barring a major shift in the national mood, this is likely to continue in 2018.
And recent polls are showing women and millennials continuing to reject the GOP brand. According to Quinnipiac, 63 percent of women have a negative view of the Republican Party, while only 20 percent of millennials hold a favorable one. 60 and 62 percent of women want Democrats to control the House and Senate respectively. While the naysayers in the GOP will put their fingers in their ears and repeat the tired and inaccurate maxim that the polls in 2016 were wrong, nonetheless, the reality persists: a Democratic wave is forming.
So what are Republicans to do to stem the rising anti-Republican and anti-Trump tide? I have previously argued that we must find and address issues that negatively impact women, including elder care and student debt. However, since the Women’s March, I fear the GOP has only furthered the divide with women and that our solutions, no matter their merits, would only fall on deaf ears. What should we say to them? Nothing. Instead, we should listen to what they have to say to us.
Republicans need to earn the right to be heard.
If we do not, we will be at great risk of losing our majority in the House and possibly even the Senate. If this were to happen, it will absolutely be thanks to the angry women and millennials who had their political awakening on January 21, 2017 and decided to independently organize against the GOP. Hell hath no fury like a Women’s Marcher scorned.