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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

This Election Wasn’t About Trump

Where progressive initiatives and candidates were on the ballot, they won.

For more cartoons by Tom Toles, CLICK HERE
EDITOR's NOTE: While I agree with the broad strokes of Hightower's argument, they are nonetheless broad strokes and don't explain why true progressives like Cathie Cool Rumsey and Larry Valencia lost locally. The Trump-inspired Redneck Rebellion presented itself in many ways, and in our case, blocked the return to office to two smart qualified lawmakers and stuck us with two more years of two of the dumbest members of the RI General Assembly: ultra-rightwingers Sen. Elaine Morgan and Rep. Justin Price. - W. Collette 

When a political puck named Dick Tuck lost a California senate election in 1966, he famously conceded: “The people have spoken. The bastards.”

So now that the people have spoken up for Donald Trump, were they saying that they embrace his xenophobic, nativist, far-right policies?

Not necessarily. Most Trump voters say they went for him because they think he’ll shake up America’s elite establishment, not because he’s a conservative. In fact, majorities of people all over the country voted for very progressive policies and candidates this year.

For example, all four states that had minimum wage increases on the ballot — that’s Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and Washington — passed them. Plus, a South Dakota proposal to lower its minimum wage was rejected by 71 percent of voters.

Meanwhile, voters in two states — California and Washington — passed initiatives calling for repealing the Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision, which has allowed corporate cash to flood into our elections. Washington also voted to provide public funding of elections in the state.

And a Minnesota initiative to take away the power of state lawmakers to set their own salaries, moving this authority to a bipartisan citizens’ council, won 77 percent of the vote.

In addition, many solidly progressive “firsts” were elected, such as the first Indian-American woman in the House (Pramila Jayapal of Washington); the first Latina U.S. senator (Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada); the first Indian-American elected to the U.S. Senate (Kamala Harris of California, who is also the first black senator from her state); and the first openly LGBT governor (Kate Brown of Oregon).

Trump’s going to the White House, but the takeaway from voters in this election is a mandate for progressive economic populism and more diversity among public officials.

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s the editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown. Distributed by