Vijay Das

Washington-based writer and advocate with Demos Action, the political arm of the progressive think tank Demos.

The wrong lessons to learn from this election

The wrong lessons to learn from this election

“Programs to help the very displaced workers that sent Trump to the White House are starved for resources because Republicans slashed funding for public universities, community colleges, workforce development, and apprentice programs to improve their stake.”


This election Democrats blew their populist message with the working class. Many are calling for the Party to focus an economic message that prioritizes the interests of rural working class whites. They say it should not cater agendas to women, people of color and other groups. Calls to propel a vision to uplift economically distressed voters through a color-blind lens is misguided. It’s the wrong lessons to learn from this election.

After their historic loss, Democrats should shine a light on the racially coded language Republicans have been using to divide the country and pummel public programs to lift all people up. To tackle the economic anxiety gripping the nation, Democrats must elevate topics of racism and xenophobia in order to address issues surrounding class and economic dislocation.


Trump’s ascendency to the Oval Office is a culmination of a half century of Republican dog whistling their agendas to divide working people based on racial lines. While Trump has been incoherent in much of his views, his Administration is producing predictable officials and lobbyists to usher in an agenda that strangles government’s ability to uplift low-income and middle class Americans.

Republican Strategist Lee Atwater famously coined a way for conservatives to win elections in the Deep South and drive agendas to pull in white voters and limit government’s reach. Trump exploited these methods, expanding Atwater’s electoral map.

Trump sold his populist agenda by railing against free trade and elites from both parties being out of touch. He brought out resentment and division amongst low-income people of all stripes. He casts undocumented Mexican immigrants looking to escape street violence and poverty as rapists and drug cartel kingpins. He called for a sweeping ban of asylum seekers from Syria and war torn nations in the Middle East. He began a birther movement to delegitimize President Obama. Donald Trump took a page from the Republican playbook, riding racially divisive rhetoric to win enough white votes to take the White House.

For years, Republicans punched down to move up, advancing austerity by stoking people’s prejudices and fears. As Republicans champion big business and freedom they pushed large tax cuts for the rich and helping their donors and business friends with perks. They slashed spending for reproductive health services, higher education, and our safety-net. Billionaires like Donald Trump are immune to the direct impacts of these divestments. Such proposals have and continue to rob us of our future.

Republicans cast safety-net programs for mostly slothful, unpatriotic people of color. When President Ronald Reagan attacked welfare and family assistance programs as programs abused by ‘welfare queens’, he invoked images of unemployed single black mothers living off the government dole. By painting this racially charged image on the program, he pummeled its universal support.

The frontrunner to be our next Secretary of State, 2012 Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, presented an America of takers and makers. He complained that half of America don’t pay taxes but want the rich to pay for their food, housing, education, health care and overall wellbeing. This view is wrong. Among those that don’t pay federal taxes, 61 percent pay payroll taxes. These folk had jobs. Because of Jim Crow and exclusive immigration laws, many people of color are poor. Some rely on public assistance. Romney casts them as unworthy people dependent on the very rich to pay for their cots to sleep in.

Ironically, programs to help the very displaced workers that sent Trump to the White House are starved for resources because Republicans slashed funding for public universities, community colleges, workforce development, and apprentice programs to improve their stake. Some Republicans still advance trade deals that prioritize multinational firms’ interests over ordinary people. While Trump has pivoted away from that strain his economic agenda certainly hasn’t. His plans and programs will hurt workers.


Republicans have made it appear that the only people that stand to benefit from government and public investments are low-income people of color requesting a handout. Public investments support the needs of an entire populace to secure their financial footing and invest in our children’s future.

To be sure, Democrats have dog whistled their way to win elections. They have pivoted their main allegiances away from average people and organized labor. The Democratic establishment caters too much to campaign bundlers, Silicon Valley tycoons, and Wall Street executives.

Democrats should prop up the nation we are becoming and not the one in the rear view. Progressives can unite around an opposition agenda that embraces rather than shuns diversity.

They should present an agenda that champions progressive solutions and welcomes immigrants, refugees and programs to uplift and protect our vulnerable. This message appeals to all voters, no matter what community they belong.

Republicans have played a key role in destroying our faith in institutions and a widely held belief that ‘we’ truly are ‘the people’ in our multi-racial democracy. It’s vital Democrats organize and counter Republicans’ efforts now. America’s working families are in for some hard times and need an ally. And fast.

Disclaimer: We selected this Op-Ed to be published in our opinion section as a contribution to public debate. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of its author(s) and/or the organization(s) they represent and do not reflect the views or the editorial line of Univision Noticias.


Latino millennials account for almost half the 27.3 million eligible Latino voters in this election. But Latino turn out is traditionally far lower than black and Anglo voters. J.P. Dominguez asks “when are we going to wake up?”
A study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic policy found that undocumented immigrants pay $11.64 billion a year in state and local taxes. The undocumented pay on average 8% of their income on taxes while the wealthiest 1% pay only 5.4%. J.P Dominguez says that's "trumped up."
During the first presidential debate, the candidates took a chance to bring up each others past mistakes to affect their performance.
After the "Taco trucks on every corner" comment from the co-founder of Latinos for Trump, part of his immigration past emerged. This is JP Domínguez's take on the issue.
Donald Trump's wife and aspiring First Lady is an immigrant who says she always "went by the law" - but her story is a little 'SUS'.
Exclusivas de los famosos que ha destapado el programa HOY en 20 años de historia
Gabriel Soto, Erika Buenfil, Maite Perroni y Claudia Álvarez son algunos de los famosos que han dado exclusivas sobre sus vidas al programa HOY en 20 años de emisiones.
Eugenio Derbez señala a presuntos responsables del robo a su domicilio
Eugenio Derbez acudió al Reclusorio Sur de la Ciudad de México para sustentar y señalar a los presuntos responsables del robo a su domicilio ocurrido en diciembre del 2016.
Significado emocional de las enfermedades y cómo curárte con descodificación biológica
Ana Belém Blanco, terapeuta y master en descodificación biológica, explicó el papel de las emociones en las enfermedades y dio algunas recomendaciones para procesarlas y no afecten tu salud.
Detrás de cámaras: la reacción de Alan al ver que su hijo era varón le sacó lágrimas a Satcha
Alan le mostró a Satcha el video del momento en que vio que su quinto hijo es varón, ambos se abrazaron de la emoción.
Continúan las bajas temperaturas en la región de Sacramento
La alerta por vientos gélidos sigue activa y se espera que permanezca hasta el día de mañana. La temperatura oscila entre los 33 y 57 grados.
Dreamer crea app para ayudar a inmigrantes durante detenciones de tráfico o inmigración
La aplicación Safe Encounter fue creada por Javier Alonso, un beneficiario del programa DACA, y está disponible de forma gratuita en iOS y Android.
"Queremos cambio": estudiantes de Parkland llevan su lucha contra las armas a Tallahassee y Washington DC
Sobrevivientes de la masacre se manifestarán en la capital de Florida para exigir una mayor regulación. Este martes cientos de jóvenes estudiantes han salido a las calles en el sur de Florida para solidarizarse con el movimiento que pide un mayor control de armas.
"Nuestras oraciones no son suficientes": Exalumnos de Parkland recogen fondos en NY para las familias de las víctimas
Los exestudiantes de la escuela secundaria Marjory Stoneman Douglas que residen en la Ciudad de Nueva York también se preparan para hacer parte de una marcha en Washington DC que busca alzar su voz a favor de una ley sobre un fuerte control de armas.
¿Provocación o humillación?:el torito nunca antes visto
La imagen curiosa de la jornada la dejó un equipo en el fútbol africano. Jugadores del Kaizer Chief ganaban el encuentro 4-2 frente a Platinum Stars y aprovecharon el final para divertirse a costas del rival.
Izquierdoz: “Caixinha representa mucho en la historia del club, pero no nos interesa eso”
El defensor del Santos Laguna expresó su sentir sobre enfrentar a su extécnico en la Jornada 8 del Clausura 2018, cuando Cruz Azul viaje a la comarca lagunera.
¿El nuevo Ronaldinho?, Barcelona ficha a la actual joya del Gremio
El club catalán concretó la compra de Arthur, el cual llegará a España para el 2019.
Decio de María pugnó por el 'fair play' financiero de Liga MX
El presidente de la Femexfut aceptó que la eliminación del ascenso y descenso se mantiene latente y también habló sobre la doble despedida del Tri previo al Mundial de Rusia 2018.