Why Democrats Won, and What Comes Next

Democratic Party© YinYang / Getty Images Signature / Canva
Op-Ed by State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh

I’ll be honest: As someone who spent months talking to voters, I had a feeling there was never going to be a red wave.

Democratic, independent and many Republican voters I spoke with were scared. If I had a nickel for every time I heard, “These people scare me!” I’d be wealthy beyond measure.

People weren’t just scared: They were angry. Angry at politicians who spent more time discussing school bathrooms than attacks on women’s bodily autonomy. Angry at those creating fear about crime instead of getting deadly weapons off the streets. Angry that their voting rights were being attacked.

These voters wanted to hear solutions but were fed fake issues. Thankfully, they rejected that nonsense wholeheartedly.

Josh Shapiro beat Pennsylvania’s most famous Confederate cosplayer with a record number of votes. John Fetterman’s story of personal resilience proved more relatable than a snake-oil salesman who traded his medical credentials for money. Congresswoman Wild’s accomplishments and pragmatism propelled her to reelection.

In the State House, fair legislative maps and a strong message gave Democrats a 102-101 majority.

The question is this: How will Democrats govern?

We must become the party of freedom, democracy, results and reality.

As Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro said, you can’t have true freedom without personal freedom: Freedom to worship safely, to control your own body, to get a world-class education and to love who you want to love.

You can’t have a democracy or be a patriot only when you win. You can’t only love your country when the elections go your way. We must make it easier to vote and easier for officials to count votes.

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Democrats won on better schools, better jobs and safer communities. Too many Republicans tried…something else. The top of the Republican ticket was occupied by a Nazi sympathizer and a man so cravenly ambitious that he couldn’t spell the Pennsylvania town he was pretending to be from. Voters showed them both the door.

Voters will not brook any more nonsense. They deserve Democrats and Republicans willing to work together and achieve real results.

We all want good schools, access to health care and better-paying jobs, not political infighting.

I’ve worked with Republicans to bring home dollars for jobs and programs, to prevent suicides and to protect the vulnerable. I’ll happily do so in the future.

When we concentrate on those issues, elected officials win. More to the point, Pennsylvanians win.

Finally, voters expect elected officials to be tethered to reality. Biden won. Trump lost. Vaccines save lives. Q is not real, but COVID is. No one is pressuring your kid to switch genders. There aren’t kitty litter boxes in bathrooms. Everyone deserves to be loved and respected – especially those who have become society’s scapegoats.

The people rejected Republicans who ran on lies. May they be relegated to the dustbin of the past so we can work for a better future.

Democrats – from the governor’s mansion to the State House – have been given the mantle of responsibility. At the same time, the voters returned a Republican-controlled state Senate. We must work together to achieve positive outcomes for the people we represent. There will be moments where compromise is non-tenable. There will be other moments where it is the only way forward. I hope we are smart enough to learn the difference.

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All I can do is pledge my desire to work with anyone willing to listen – Republican or Democrat – to deliver those results for the people we serve and the communities we share. This should be the bare minimum for any elected official in this country.

Michael H. Schlossberg is a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, representing the 132nd district since 2013.

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