By NYC Mayor Eric Adams
As Democrats celebrate averting an election disaster, we can’t ignore voters after Election Day.
And although Americans did not speak with one voice, working-class voters sent a clear message: They are deeply concerned about the economy, crime and inflation. They are looking for leadership that will acknowledge their concerns and protect their interests, regardless of party affiliation.
Because for America’s working-class voters, elections aren’t about their identity — they’re about their existence.
Most Americans are in a precarious financial position, most just one illness or job loss away from financial ruin. They will vote for candidates who acknowledge those problems, even if the solutions on offer are less than effective.
So, despite a better-than-expected overall showing for Democrats on Tuesday, working people continued a long trend of voting for Republican candidates more often. We cannot ignore the steady erosion of their support while we celebrate avoiding an electoral disaster.
Democrats’ support and base – wavering
Many of these voters are from previously reliable voting blocs for Democrats, including black voters, Latinos and Asians. Those groups seem increasingly enthusiastic about Democrats, and many voters have already switched teams.
Exit polls by the Associated Press showed that people of color appeared to be voting at lower rates for Democrats on Tuesday, the latest dip in a downward trend. Only 6 in 10 Hispanic and Asian Americans voted for Democrats, up from 7 in 10 and 8 in 8, respectively, just four years ago, according to the data.
As a working-class black mayor of New York City, I hear this over and over again: My streets are not safe. I can’t get a job. I lost my job, my apartment, my health care. What are you going to do about it?
And I can do more than listen—I can empathize. I am the son of a single mother, who never knew if I would come home to dinner on the table or an eviction notice on the door.
On Tuesday, Republicans from those communities in Queens and Brooklyn — traditionally deep blue areas — turned in very strong showings, capturing seats that traditionally go to Democrats.
One thing I learned during my campaign for mayor last year, however, is that simply addressing basic concerns is not enough. Public officials need to be able to say what to do today for those who are struggling, not just promises for tomorrow.
The Republican Party is asking the right questions
Republicans do it well. The Republican Party asks the right questions, even if it gives the wrong answers.
Democrats have the right answers, but the wrong approach.
New York is the safest big city in America, but that statistic means nothing to a mother grieving a child lost to gun violence. We may have about two jobs available for every American who is unemployed, but that doesn’t help a person who is cut from the only job they have.
That’s why my administration adopted the mantra of “Get Stuff Done” and my team has embraced it. When working people say they want safer streets, we put more authorities on them. When they say they want more housing, we move heaven and earth to start building. We’ve helped work for families by immediately expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit and creating a major new childcare initiative.
None of this is radical. It is practical. It is fundamentally pragmatic. And so should the Democrats.
Voting is an act of emotional conviction, not straightforward logic. It’s about people’s needs, their feelings, their reality – and doing something about it.
Democrats, put working people first
Democrats must put working people and their communities first, including three critical tasks we’ve forgotten how to do: listen, respond and organize.
The Democratic Party has the right policies, but it needs to focus its message on the immediate, not on grand plans. We need to put “now” solutions — like investments in earned income tax credits, child care, housing, health care and public safety — front and center and keep them there.
If we fail to listen to what working people are saying, empathize with their concerns, and act on their behalf, we will lose the bonds of social trust that hold small towns, big cities, and multicultural democracies together.
Republicans will also continue to hold their advantage in congressional maps, controlling more seats with fewer votes than we do, driving us into long-term irrelevance as we become only the party of upper-middle-class urban and suburbanites.
Related: Read the Op-Ed in Harlem World Magazine here.
My fellow Democrats: This is our mission going forward. We are not here to tell people how to feel. We are here to show people that they are being heard. The people – the working people – are our North Star. Their priorities should be our priorities. Their values should be respected. Their voices should be heard.
And it’s not just our responsibility to follow their lead; This is our future.
“We reimagine, recreate, and redeem cultural omissions and misinterpretations of blackness for culture’s sake. . . .” This is made in post. partnership with British Path.