This opinion piece was authored by Beshay Sakla, a senior journalism student from Wheeling and the President of College Democrats of West Virginia University.
Democrats may have won the presidency, but we still have a lot of work to do.
After a tumultuous four years, Donald Trump has done a lot of damage to our institutions, our standing in the world and our democracy. We have seen the politicization of our intelligence agencies and court system. We saw atrocities at our border where children were separated from their families, some of whom will never see their parents again. As votes were being counted, Trump continued to undermine our election process, but democracy won. As we celebrate this victory we must also acknowledge the work yet to be done, especially in West Virginia.
I know that President-Elect Joe Biden will serve as a good transition to a new normal for our generation, and I know he will serve with the interest of all Americans in mind.
That being said, not a single Democrat was elected to statewide office in this election. Republicans gained a super majority in both chambers of the West Virginia legislature, and every Democratic congressional candidate lost their bids for office.
I don’t believe that this was due to a lack of effort on the part of the candidates. I think it had to do with our inability to get behind a unified message. For years, Republicans have labeled us as radical socialists that are trying to destroy energy jobs, and for years many Democrats have struggled to separate themselves from Washington, D.C. establishment Democrats.
Candidates at all levels put forward progressive ideas to revitalize our economy and keep young people in our state, but many of these policies won’t get done over the next two years. In the voter guide put together by West Virginia College Democrats, several candidates endorsed policies to help students with loan debt that decide to stay in the state. Candidates also endorsed recreational marijuana after successful implementation of medicinal marijuana. Almost every candidate we spoke to supported and recognized the importance of the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Some of those candidates made it to the Legislature, but we are facing an uphill battle these next few years. Over the next two years, Democrats will have to organize better than we have before to get candidates in every district, and we’ll have to work hard to lobby the legislature to make sure our voices are heard. Most importantly, we’ll have to have difficult conversations with our friends and family members about the issues we care about.
I speak for myself when I say I think it’s a gloomy day for the West Virginia Democratic Party, but I am more optimistic now than I was before. I am inspired by the work of the West Virginia Can’t Wait campaign and all the young organizers who helped with it. I am inspired by the candidates that put themselves out there to run for office, and all the time they spent meeting voters and listening to their community. Don’t wait two years to have conversations, and don’t be scared to get involved.
This submission is part of a recurring series featuring opinions of students affiliated with political organizations at West Virginia University.