The rainy evening did not prevent 40 Democrats from gathering at the William Way LGBT Community Center on Wednesday to discuss next steps after the presidential election. The Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club invited Mitch Kates, political director of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, to speak about what the community can do in preparation for Donald Trump’s presidency.
“I am not going to spend much time — maybe a second or two — bitching about what just happened,” Kates said, referencing the Nov. 8 election. “I’m tempted to throw a chair through the window but that wouldn’t be appropriate. So let’s talk about what happens now.”
Kates continued by urging the audience to participate in local elections. He mentioned Pittsburgh City Council’s recent legislation to ban mental-health workers from using conversion therapy on minors.
“I am the vote-local guy and I am a very big believer in local campaigns because those are the people that affect your lives each and every day,” Kates said.
Additionally, Kates said there are “a lot of people who have been around a long time” in the Democratic Party. However, he emphasized the need for new engagement as well.
“We need new blood and we need new energy,” Kates said. “We need new ideas. This is not a small little clique or club. We need more folks involved and engaged so I want everybody — and you tell your friends in your networks — to find out what the local committees are in your area. Find out about your county party [and] what opportunities there are to do that. There will be opportunities in your state committee as well. Those are part of the infrastructure of the Democratic Party.”
Kates noted the majority of the country has Republican leadership due to the party’s involvement in local elections. Currently, 31 out of 50 states have Republican governors.
“We’re not the puppet masters that WikiLeaks likes to pretend that we are,” Kates said of the Democratic Party. “We’re not but we are only going to be successful if we are all working together and we are all doing something and we’re not waiting. There is no waiting. We’re not going to wait for Donald Trump to take away our civil liberties and all that shit. We’ve got to work now. We have to start winning those local offices now.”
Kates also issued a call to action for Democrats to use their anger in a positive way.
“We have to be strong,” he said. “We can’t hang our heads. We can be pissed off but we need to take that energy and really be positive and start climbing our way out of that deep hole that we’re in.”
Kates said it was a “great sign” to see the large number of people in attendance at William Way, despite the rainy weather. He thanked Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club for the opportunity.
“I love to see so many people on a really nasty night a couple weeks out after an election while most people are still at home contemplating life,” Kates said. ‘But you showed up. Let’s keep it going.”
One of Kates’ closing statements featured a reference to the 1985 film, “The Goonies.” He used the film to show how “we can” get through a Trump presidency.
“Because I’m a product of the ’80s, I live by the motto, ‘Goonies never say die,’” Kates said.