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Progressive Voice: Rising Again After a Fall

Rip Sullivan (photo via Facebook)Progressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organizations or ARLnow.com.

By: Rip Sullivan

As we’ve watched the Trump transition with more than a little trepidation, the President-Elect has begun walking back some of the promises that most defined his campaign: repealing the ACA; building the wall; torture; climate change.

And to think Hillary was branded the liar.

But that’s another column.

Along with the lucky $2 bill my Mom gave me, I carry a card in my wallet that my Dad gave me. It reads “the greatest accomplishment is not in never falling, but in rising again after you fall.” And did we ever fall on November 8. We got knocked down. Bigly.

But not here in Virginia and not here in Arlington. Hillary won the Commonwealth, continuing our advance from purple to blue, and won decisively in Arlington.

Nationally, the early post-mortems lay blame on Democratic turnout. In key places around the country, Democrats didn’t vote. And low turnout is a Democrat-killer.

So now that the election is in our rearview mirror, it is time for us to gear up for another election in Virginia. Next year we will elect a Governor, Lieutenant Governor, an Attorney General and all 100 members of the House of Delegates. We can — must — build on the great work we did this year in Arlington and more broadly in Virginia to win next year’s crucial elections.

Governor McAuliffe’s term highlights how important it will be for Democrats to focus on 2017’s off-year election. He has vetoed over 60 bills during his 3 years in office — and the General Assembly has sustained every veto.

The Governor’s vetoes from just last year include a bill defunding Planned Parenthood and a bill that would have prohibited Virginia from taking any action to comply with the Clean Power Plan.

The General Assembly also considered legislation that was frighteningly similar to North Carolina’s notorious HB 2. The only thing keeping these bills from becoming law — from harming our economy and making Virginia a national embarrassment — are a Democratic Governor and strengthened Democratic numbers in the General Assembly.

This is why Arlington Democrats, Independents and even Republicans who voted for Hillary Clinton — or against Donald Trump — need to regroup, reorganize and focus on making an impact on next year’s elections in Virginia.

There are plenty of reasons to believe we can be successful next year.

The first and most obvious is that we were successful this year. Over 90,000 Arlingtonians voted for Hillary Clinton, and turnout was a record high.

Hillary won Virginia by nearly 5%, which is more than President Obama’s margin in 2012. She won Virginia’s most prominent bellwether counties — Loudoun County and Prince William County — by a margin of 17% and 20%, respectively. And Donald Trump barely won two of the biggest Republican strongholds in Virginia — Chesterfield County and Virginia Beach — by just under 3% and 5%. We need to ensure that this trend continues.

Next year also presents an opportunity to make the House of Delegates reflect what we saw in Tuesday’s election results. Many House districts currently held by Republicans — including Republicans who introduced divisive bills that Governor McAuliffe vetoed — were won by Hillary Clinton on Tuesday.

How do these Republican delegates repeatedly win in what should be Democratic districts? Turnout.

It is an unfortunate and frustrating fact that turnout typically drops 25-35% from a presidential election to a gubernatorial election.

This does not have to be the case in 2017.

Turn the frustration and disappointment you experienced last Tuesday into energy and dedication next year. Volunteer to knock doors in your neighborhood. Donate time and money to your local Democratic Committee. Talk to your friends and neighbors about how important it is for Democrats to participate in and win next year’s elections. Your work will be rewarded next November and beyond.

I’ll be following my own advice — actually, my Dad’s — next year. As the House Democratic Caucus’ Campaign Chair, I will be recruiting, helping fund and advising Democratic candidates in House of Delegates races all across Virginia. Their good campaigns across the Commonwealth can help the entire Democratic statewide ticket as well.

Many of these House races are winnable if we rise up again after our fall, roll up our sleeves, dig in and turn out to vote next November. I hope you will join me.

Rip is a Northern Virginia community activist and a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from Virginia’s 48th District, which encompasses parts of Arlington and McLean.

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