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Wednesday June 20th 2018

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What Now?

Only 55% of voting-age citizens turned out for the election last Tuesday. Of those who did, the majority didn’t vote for the current president-elect.

Those facts are bleak no matter how you look at them.

In light of everything that’s currently happening as a response to the election, we asked a few different people from different sides of the political spectrum, one simple question: What now? It should come as no surprise that the answers we got were anything but simple.

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What’s Next for the Republican Party?
By Ryan Wiggins

When I was first asked to write this article, my first thought was, “How?!”  What do you mean “What’s next for the Republican Party?”. The Republican Party just shocked the world by proving pollsters, the media, and political elites wrong by not only winning the White House on Election Day but essentially sweeping down ballot races across the country.

The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post have reported after last Tuesday, Republicans will control an all-time high of 69 of 99 state legislative chambers. They will hold 33 out of 50 governorships, tying a 94-year-old record. They now hold the governorship and both chambers of the state legislature in 25 states and can claim 29 state attorneys general, the highest number in U.S. history.

As a Republican political consultant and an unapologetic political junkie living in one of the most conservative parts of this country, even I was slack jawed by the landslide victory by my party on Election Day. When you control the free world, what’s next? Where could you possibly go from here?

Unfortunately, history tells us this is a very dangerous territory to be in. That saying, “be careful what you wish for, you just might get it,” absolutely applies here. Political parties do better when they can rally against an enemy. When that doesn’t happen, they have a tendency of running amuck, becoming their own worst enemy, thus losing the power they recently acquired. Call it a feature of democracy. We like checks and balances, and the system is designed to ensure they are always in place.

You don’t have to go back very far to see evidence of this phenomenon. Leading up to the 2006 midterm election, Republicans controlled the House, Senate, and White House. It was the year of the “do nothing Congress” and, in the halls of the Capitol; corruption reared its ugly head. Scandals involving House Speaker Tom Delay and Congressman Mark Foley pounded the Republican Party. That year, the Democrats took control of both chambers of Congress leaving President Bush as a lame duck heading into his last two years in office.

In 2008, President Obama came into office with a Democratic majority in both chambers and, having been out of power for some time, the Democrats were like kids in a candy store. They pushed a liberal agenda through Congress, including Obamacare, in those first two years. As it turned out, the American people didn’t love seeing a power crazed party running its nation unchecked and two years later, took some of that power away from the Democrats returning the House to the Republicans. In 2014, they’d give the Senate back to the Republicans too.

The Republican Party saw some impressive victories this year, but there is a lesson to be learned from the past. If they hope to maintain the power the American people just entrusted them with, they will need to be thoughtful in their actions. Trump Republicans will need to find a way to win back the more moderate establishment Republicans, and they will need to unite as one party. They will need to put country before partisanship. They will need to actually represent the people who put them in office, and they will need to work with Democrats to accomplish that goal. Most importantly, they’ve got to stay out of the ivory tower so tempting to many politicians when they are elected.

There is no questioning that today; the future for the Republican Party is very bright in this nation. It is up to our party to maintain it.

Ryan Wiggins is the owner of Full Contact Strategies, LLC., a Pensacola-based political media consulting firm specializing in political messaging, crisis communications, and media relations.

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Symbols Are Important
By C.S. Satterwhite

On the morning of the election, my daughter was pretty excited. Although she’s only 11, she was definitely a Hillary supporter. She went to all of the debate parties with me and was clearly repulsed by Donald Trump and taken by Hillary Clinton, even before I was.

When I supported Bernie Sanders in the primary, she supported Hillary Clinton. “Why?” I asked.

“She’s a woman, and I want to see a woman become president,” she told me.

This made perfect sense. Symbols are important, and Clinton’s candidacy was a historic moment in women’s history.

Despite Clinton’s purported baggage—from the super-delegates to the emails—I was sold during the DNC. When I saw the people from all walks of life speak on her behalf, I thought “This is the America I love.” One quick glance at the photos of the convention floor of both conventions showed the differences. The DNC was diverse, and the RNC was not.

Seeing President Obama speak, followed by Hillary Clinton, I could think of no better symbol of historical progress than their candidacies. While there might be more candidates who were closer to my personal sympathies, like Sanders, I’m idealistic but pragmatic.

While I hate feeling like there are no other options, at this stage in our country’s history, either a Republican or a Democrat is going to be president. Knowing that’s the case, I backed Clinton because I think Trump is a very dangerous demagogue. It was listening to my daughter and other Clinton supporters, however, which swayed me to become a supporter of Clinton herself.

Like many women and minorities, Americans held Clinton to a higher standard than Trump. Nonetheless, every cognizant Democrat knew the public’s perception surrounding her scandals would be her biggest hurdle— maybe even more than her gender. Maybe.

It’s hard to understand why anyone votes for a specific candidate. For just less than half of the voters, Trump must’ve wanted change, and Clinton symbolized the status quo. As a woman, however, Clinton symbolized change, too. A movement away from the male status quo. Symbols are important.

While Barack Obama’s presidency certainly didn’t end racism, the symbolism of his presidency is profound. Few Civil Rights activists will argue with this, whether they like his policies or not. Despite incredible Republican obstructionist tactics to prevent change, he continued to provide hope to countless people. For many, Clinton offered hope too.

As a symbol alone, Hillary Clinton was powerful. Despite her flaws, at this moment, she was the one. That’s what my daughter saw.

She was also old enough to understand that her minority friends, and especially their families, were very concerned about a Trump presidency.  Not all of Trump’s supporters were bigots, but a very vocal group were spewing hate, and even she saw this as a concern.

That’s why Clinton’s loss was so devastating. When I broke the news to her on Wednesday morning, she was in tears. Thinking of the people who worked tirelessly to elect her, whether it because they loved Clinton or genuinely feared Trump, I know my daughter wasn’t the only one who cried that morning.

But it is what it is, so where do we go from here? First, I’d address Trump supporters. If you don’t think his campaign stood for bigotry, I really hope you stand up for those bullied and attacked by bigots. Don’t ignore it, because it’s definitely happening. Don’t dismiss other’s genuine concerns. Try to listen, and stand up against hatred.

For those in mourning, now is the time to collect ourselves and stand up. Look out for the communities under attack in our society and stand up where you can. Don’t be a bystander to hate, speak out wherever you can, whether in the office or at the holiday dinner table.

As for Trump himself, he needs to continuously be held accountable for his rhetoric. Losing the popular vote means most Americans didn’t vote for him. That means he doesn’t have a mandate—an important point to remember.

Lastly, if you’re distraught, remember that you’re not alone. Through the tears, hers and mine, that’s what I told my daughter. In times like these, beautiful communities often arise. That’s been the case historically, and it always will be the case. Within those communities, we’ll find the friends who will sustain us through the hard times.

Personally, when times are hard, I look to some of my heroes—Paul Robeson, Dorothy Day, Ida B. Wells, and our own John Sunday to name a few. Symbols are important, but so are people. History gives us many parallels to understand what just happened, and many more examples of fighters. Use that history as a tool. My heroes (and sheroes) struggled through hard times but kept on going. The future appears bleak to many people, but as Elizabeth Warren said recently, “the sun will keep rising, and we will keep fighting.”

So let’s keep fighting for those we love, we have no choice.

C.S. Satterwhite is an educator and writer. He is also a veteran of the U.S. Navy and the co-founder of the Open Books Prison Book Project, which has been sending literature to prisoners in the State of Florida since 2000.

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Democrats—and America—Will Survive
By Travis Peterson

Many progressives and Democrats see the election of Donald Trump as a sign of the end times. I’ve struggled with that feeling too because the rhetoric from his campaign embodied the ugly underbelly of American racial, gender, economic and nationalist feelings that we don’t like to acknowledge.

I also know that the wheels of government turn very slowly. Reformist candidates like Donald Trump (and Barack Obama in 2008) find that the policymaking process tempers and complicates even the most simple of well-intentioned ideas. Obamacare didn’t come out the way many progressives wanted, thanks in part to Congressional Democrats and Republicans meddling with it. Trump will face similar challenges to corral a fractured Republican Party and a committed Senate Democratic minority. This should make my progressive friends breathe a small sigh of relief.

But Trump’s victory was a resounding rejection of our political system, including the Democratic leadership. So where do Democrats go from here? I’ve got some ideas.

First, recognize that Trump’s victory was a rejection of both parties. There is no need for Democrats to make rash decisions or panic. Sure, we are picking up the pieces from the Clinton loss, but imagine how the other side feels. The entire Republican establishment was just creamed in the Primary, and had their collective noses rubbed in it again with Trump’s victory.  Democrats should carefully, thoughtfully look to reform, but not make rash decisions that only make a bad situation worse.

Team Trump has to be ready to govern on January 20. Democrats don’t. Take the time to get your house in order.

Take a note from history—Washington insiders don’t win. Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Donald Trump. What do they have in common, besides occupying the White House for the last 24 years? They weren’t from Washington.

Let’s look at who they beat: George H. W. Bush, Senator John McCain, Secretary Hillary Clinton, Senator John Kerry, and Vice President Al Gore. Get it?

In retrospect, Bernie Sanders’ surprising performance against Clinton in the Democratic primaries should make Trump’s victory a surprise to no one.

Pick one or two issues and make real progress. Democrats should remember that Trump is not a Republican, or at least is not a Republican ideologue. We are already seeing some moderation in his policy positions as the reality of governing sets in. As Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, an outspoken critic of Trump, acknowledged the other day, there are real issues such as infrastructure, economic reform, and job creation and training where Democrats and Trump can agree.

Ironically, those are also policies that traditional Republicans have eschewed because they cost money. Progressives would be wise to engage the Trump administration on these policy initiatives and share credit where possible.

Choose to be a governing party, not a winning party. Much of the Clinton campaign, and indeed the progressive conventional wisdom, was based on the belief that demographics alone would carry the day for Democrats. They were wrong. Should demographic trends continue their current trajectory, Democrats could likely become a majority party in four to eight years. The coalition of African-Americans, Hispanics, and white liberals will be large enough to remake the electoral map and win the Presidency. But that is not a governing coalition.

While urban areas and minority communities may be sufficient to win, it is not sufficient to move the entire country forward. Democrats must work to re-engage with blue-collar voters, particularly in the Midwest. Shuffling our primary schedule to give Democrats in blue-collar and swing states and earlier say in the nominating process will be a first step. We should embrace reform policies in education, employment, and economics, rather than simply protect the status quo, which is now insufficient to win or effectively govern.

Finally, Democrats must acknowledge the fears and frustrations of “middle America” and look for common solutions, not pandering policies.

The economic plight facing many minority communities in our inner cities isn’t too far removed from that of an unemployed steelworker in the heartland. Both are dealing with a retreat of capital, a scourge of drug and health problems, and poor opportunities for job training and development. But Democrats only carried one of those groups.

Progressive leaders should stop the elitist rhetoric that lumps large groups of Americans into the same “basket” as some of the truly deplorable actors in our political system. That attitude only reinforces the belief by many middle-class voters that our party doesn’t care about them or respect their values. The Democratic Party of FDR was built on the work of mostly working-class voters, who went to church, believed in a strong national defense, and wanted the best for their family. There is no reason those voters can’t come back to us, if we begin by listening.

While the 2016 election was a defeat for the progressive cause, it signals the need for both parties to reevaluate our traditional approach to winning elections. Regardless of whether you voted for Trump or not, he is now “our President” and we need to remember that we are Americans first—no matter our race, age, gender, economic status, or sexual orientation. Let’s work to show the world what that really means.

Travis Peterson is the owner of Impact Campaigns, a Pensacola-based public relations.

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I’m Not Ready To Make Nice
By Edwin Banacia

So, what now? A question posed to me by the Inweekly team because they thought I’d have unique perspective as the son of an immigrant. My father, under a now defunct program that allowed a small number of Philippine citizens to join the U.S. Navy in return for the Philippines hosting U.S. naval bases in country, became an American citizen after having served in the Vietnam War. But honestly, I’m having a hard time. Perhaps, it’s because I’m trying to rectify in my mind that my father, yes, the immigrant, voted for Donald Trump. Or maybe it’s because I can’t connect the reality in my mind that I live in a country that loves the hit ABC television series Modern Family, but half of our population voted for a man that proudly said things that were blatantly homophobic, racist, misogynistic and xenophobic. What does that mean?

What does it mean that if our children had said at school any of the things Donald Trump said, they would have correctly been reprimanded by their school and by their parents? What if our children bullied a disabled person? But, Trump gets a pass?

Or perhaps I find it difficult to process that respected statesmen like John McCain, Joe Scarborough, and John Kasich had the moral fiber to say that Trump wasn’t morally sound and not qualified for the position and yet the same voting block that voted for them, ignored their commentary.

And it’s not just what he says. Since Trump has no real experience governing, I look to Mike Pence’s policy positions as a glimpse of the future. How was I supposed to look my gay friends in the eye having voted for a guy who supported a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage? A guy who actually signed a bill to jail same-sex couples who applied for a marriage license. A guy who wanted to divert funding from HIV prevention and move it to institutions which provide resources to those seeking to change their sexual behavior. What?

Now it appears that the real Trump is revealing himself. He’s backing down from “the wall,” he’s praising parts of the Affordable Care Act, and he’s appointed a moderate Republican as his Chief of Staff. So all of that disgusting, terrible stuff he said was nothing more than hot air to fire up a base that was already angry and unbalanced after having endured a black President for eight years? That is manipulation at a depth so deep and dark that I can’t quite comprehend it.

And none of us know the reason behind Russian President Vladimir Putin’s joyfulness after Trump was elected, not withstanding, the Russian government’s troubling involvement in tampering with the election. Is Trump the first Presidential pawn of Russia?

So what’s next? Fake news sites used by powerful people, as tools of propaganda, get stronger. Social media and a 24-hour news cycle dictate that the wildest among us attract the biggest audience. Audience size is the king we all serve so our leaders get wilder and more outrageous and the world gets exponentially more dangerous. Are we due for our own version of an Arab Spring?

Maybe I’m not ready to start to figure out what’s next? I think I’m still trying to figure out how we got here and who’s to blame. Some will argue the media propped up the Trump campaign. They sold the country’s future for ratings. Some will blame the Democratic party for holding on to the good old days of the Clinton era too long.

What’s next? I don’t know. I still haven’t reactivated my Facebook profile. I’m nursing a broken heart. I feel like an outcast in my own community. Is there a support group out there I can join? I don’t know what’s next. All I know is I am sad, and the world looks differently to me today than it did a few weeks ago.

Edwin Banacia is a small business owner and also a music publicist at a prominent New York City-based entertainment public relations firm. He works remotely from his office in Pensacola.

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Pensacola Speaks

Inweekly publisher Rick Outzen hosts “Pensacola Speaks” weekdays from 4-5 p.m. on News Talk 1370 WCOA. He asked his listeners what they see happening in the nation’s capital.

“Mr. Trump promised the working poor that he’s going to bring back the steel factories, he’s going to put a manufacturing something on every other block, and I think you sit back and you wait because that ain’t going to happen. Then you have the social issues. If the evangelicals get their way, you’re going to really irritate a lot of people, and hopefully, some of them will be the Millennials who will say next year, or two years, or four years from now, ‘Maybe we better join the Democratic Party.’” –Lynn

“If he’s going to do all the infrastructure that he’s talking about with building our roads, bridges, and buildings, and airports, that alone is going to create a tremendous amount of jobs. As far as the Democratic Party, when all they had to offer up was Hillary Clinton, they shot themselves in the foot. The Clintons, they’re part of the problem because they’re part of the establishment.” –Paul

“I would say this to my conservative Republican friends out there: Be prepared for some heartache. Donald Trump is not a conservative. I knew that voting for him. He’s going to make some deals, and he’s going to cross some lines. Just be prepared for that, guys. I think he comes out of this potentially, if anybody can, playing both sides, where the country moves in the right direction. I’m highly encouraged about that, even though I know he’s going to do some things that I’m just going to shake my head and get upset about.” –Chad

“Infrastructure-wise, I think that Democrats and Republicans alike squandered it at the beginning of Obama’s first term. Where’s all the shovel-ready jobs, all the bridges that need to be rebuilt, all the highways that you drive down that are so uneven? I think there’s a lot there. My big thing is jobs. Let’s get Americans working.” –Fred

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Staying Power

No matter how you voted, you can’t deny that we as a nation are pretty divided over the outcome of this election. We just hope that everybody who’s feeling angry enough to protest stays engaged after the dust has settled.

Here are some national and local groups that are worth supporting if watch-dogging the new administration is on your post-election to-do list.
*These are listed in no particular order, just how they came into our heads while brainstorming.

Southern Poverty Law Center
splcenter.org

ACLU of Florida
aclufl.org

350 Pensacola
world.350.org/pensacola

Emerald Coastkeeper
emeraldcoastkeeper.org

League of Women Voters of Florida
thefloridavoter.org

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
naacp.org

National Organization for Women
now.org

Planned Parenthood
plannedparenthood.org

Human Rights Campaign
hrc.org

Anti-Defamation League
adl.org

National Immigration Law Center
nilc.org

True Colors Fund
truecolorsfund.org

Americans for the Arts
americansforthearts.org

Generation Progress
genprogress.org

She Should Run
sheshouldrun.org