A democratic win in Alabama and, the Government’s loss of a majority in the UK shows that momentum is on the side of progressives this year.
This time last year there was little reason for progressives to be optimistic. 2016 had lit two ticking time bombs in the forms of Brexit and Trump, and as 2017 rolled in we braced ourselves to feel the effects of these two things. And, surely enough the Trump presidency lived up to the prophetic warnings that Hillary Clinton, the Democrats and so many others had issued. Any hopes that Trump would become more ‘presidential’ were dashed by a dystopian inauguration speech, diplomacy via Twitter and an equivocal response to a ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville.
But, in spite of this, 2017 has given us reason to be hopeful. While the votes for Brexit and Trump in 2016 foreboded the dominance of the ‘populist right’ the next year, the votes — this year — for a Democrat in ‘deep red’ Alabama and, the losses of Conservative seats in the UK general election in 2017, suggest that this year will be one where progressives rise up and start winning again.
The Government in Westminster doesn’t have the majority it began with last year, and this offers progressives the chance to mobilise and change the course of Brexit, as they did in December when MPs voted to curb Government powers. And, while local elections are dismissed by many as unimportant, they will be important in measuring political engagement and public opinion. These could after all be the first set of local elections where Labour — under the leadership of Corbyn — gain votes.
In America, the surprise Democratic victory in Alabama is important in two ways going into this year. For one, it is a moral boost for Democrats and could inspire more people to run for office and, secondly, it makes the probability of Democrats regaining the senate a lot bigger. And, polling for the election for the House of Representatives shows Democrats with a double digit lead. If Democrats can win these midterm elections, the power of the President is a lot more limited and the possibility of impeachment becomes a lot more real.
Importantly, the candidacy of Hillary Clinton and, conversely, the misogyny of Donald Trump, have inspired a record number of women to run for office. Meaning that the senate and House of Representatives may not just be more Democratic after this year, but also more gender representative. Women have been have central to the ‘resistance’ this year and the #metoo movement has opened the floodgates, and with continued activism we can use 2018 to create a society that listens to women and is less patriarchal.
Across the world, there will be elections this year and, if they want to, progressives can make this their year to win again.🔷