By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The night after the Democratic Party lost the White House, you might have guessed a local party meeting would be funereal.
Sadness, however, was only one of the sentiments and emotions displayed at last night’s 34th District Democrats meeting. Also: Resolve, fury, pragmatism, and optimism, among others.
It started early. The Pledge of Allegiance always opens 34th DDs meetings, and this time, at the end, someone added: “HOPEFULLY, justice for all.”
Shortly thereafter, chair Marcee Stone-Vekich, after saying, “I can’t give you any kind of speech right now… I’ve got nothing to say,” managed to offer her thoughts: “I never in a million years thought it was possible for this particular person to become the president-elect. So what I do know is that we need to gather, we need to organize, and if we need to, we need to take to the streets like the hundreds who did so in our city tonight, New York, Chicago, all over the country, and that may be what it takes. This has an impact on people’s daily lives. My daughter .. is a Type 1 diabetic. She is 28 years old. If Obamacare goes out the window, what do you do? … I am comforted that you are here and hopeful that we can move forward.”
Stone-Vekich also noted that Clinton, who is ahead in the nationwide popular vote, has 72 percent of King County votes. And, she said, almost everyone endorsed by the 34th DDs was elected, “with some sad spots,” including Secretary of State candidate Tina Podlodowski losing to Republican incumbent
The chair also read a statement from State Senate Democratic leader Sen. Sharon Nelson, including: “We must believe there will be a brighter day for our country.”
Much of the meeting was devoted to an open-microphone format, and also an invitation to people to suggest a toast to something positive. What was said took many forms. Perhaps the most poignant, the daughter of well-known local political activist, writer, performer, and “Rosie the Riveter” Georgie Bright Kunkel, who said that she wanted to see a Democratic woman president, especially “for my mother, who is 96 years old, and she cried all night (Election Night) because she thought it was her last chance to see one.”
But gender equality had a bright spot, cited by State Rep. Eileen Cody of West Seattle:
The Democratic Caucus in the State House “will be majority women for the first time.”
There was pragmatism. Les Treall: “I think we had, in Washington state, a great election. Unfortunately the rest of the country didn’t join us.”
Words of praise for a post-election action:
Sam Samaniego offered a toast to the West Seattle High School students who had walked out earlier in the day to protest the presidential-election results, “because their mind is in a tremendous place, their heart functions with charity … they had strength and courage to stand up and say no, this is not what we want for our future, not what we want for kids when we have them, not what we want for our parents, our grandparents …not the vision of the future that we believe in. We should toast and honor them for a very long time.”
A WSHS alumnus, King County Executive Dow Constantine, took a turn at the microphone, speaking not only about the presidential election, but also about the victory of the issue for which he had fought the hardest – Sound Transit 3 – and about the need to not ignore the people responsible for electing Donald Trump president. First, he reminded the group about 1988:
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) November 10, 2016
He went on to his joy over the passage of Sound Transit 3 (whose board he chairs):
Going back to the presidential election – which he called “a genuine national disgrace” – Constantine urged people to understand the fear and pain of many who support Trump because they feel “left behind.”:
Part of Constantine’s theme was also heard in what Bill Schrier had to say, warning that the group seemed to have gone too far into the “tax-and-spend” mode, and urged them to be mindful of the economic effects of that philosophy. Another speaker also told the group – shouting at times – that it had to be respectful of those in all economic strata. “I want you guys to represent the working class – if you do not, this is what happens. Do you understand?” Yes, came the murmurs in response.
Concern for others also was voiced by many including Ann Martin, who read part of a letter circulated among Southwest Youth and Family Services, for which she serves on the board, an organization helping people including many refugees, who, she noted, “will be directly affected by the policies that Donald Trump says he wants to implement.” The letter from SWYFS leadership said in part, “… the results of the election … will shake the resolve of many of the families and children that we work with … you all have worked so hard to create a safe place for families … i have no doubt that our space will be where families and children run to for support … it is important that we support them …the challenge is to be open and honest with children about what is going on without placing our fears and anxieties on them … to reassure them without making false promises.”
Many speakers brought up concerns voiced by youth. Among them, David Ginsberg: “(Tuesday) night, this country elected a fascist. (Wednesday) morning I was sitting downstairs.. my (14-year-old) daughter came down the stairs with tears welling in the eyes. She was clearly scared, confused. She has heard all of the horrible things that man has said, and … she watched this country elect him president. I cannot sit on the sidelines and watch him do the things he has said he wants to do.” With that, Ginsberg announced his candidacy for the group’s chair, which Stone-Vekich is relinquishing at year’s end.
Jason Cheung said he was heartened to see analysis showing that an election in which only young Americans voted would have been a Democratic landslide. Otherwise, he was disheartened:
“Those who fail to learn from history are due to repeat it … Santayana’s words have never seemed more viscerally true to me today … today is the first day of what I think is a profoundly changed America … the first election in 50 years not covered by the protection of the Voting Rights Act, first time in 16 years where our candidate won the popular vote but lost the election … I’m half-Chinese, and today we face the fact that for the first time in American history, the candidate that was openly and unequivocally embraced and endorsed by white supremacists and Nazis, is our president. … (People who) would call my mother a race traitor, would kick my dad back to China. … Today, after 46 years of loving this country, waking up and telling anyone who would listen that this country is the best country on Earth, today I woke up and felt like this country – or a big part of it anyway – didn’t love me back.”
Resolve to work harder was heard from more than a few speakers. Chris Porter said he is resolved to do more than before. Ted Barker offered the quote that most of life “is just showing up.” Mike Heavey said, “Friendly reminder, only 1464 days until our next election.”
The 34th District Democrats’ December 14th meeting will be its holiday party; watch 34dems.org for details.