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What Democrats Do

By Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chair, DNC
Tuesday, December 20, 2011

If you follow political news like I do, you may remember this year for its GOP horse race: who was up, who was down, who had an "oops" moment. But that's not how I'll remember it.

I'll remember it as a pretty incredible year for Democrats. Here's why:

Just in the last week, we've seen solid evidence that health care reform is working: 2.5 million Americans are now insured thanks to a provision in the Affordable Care Act that allows young adults to stay on their parent's health insurance, more than double the number previously estimated.

And with the last troops leaving this past Sunday, the war in Iraq has come to a responsible end. Because of the veterans provisions of the American Jobs Act and the Hiring Heroes Act, which provide tax incentives to businesses who hire veterans in need of work, our troops coming home and all our veterans know that they can get the help they need in finding work and supporting their families.

These are the kinds of fights Democrats are waging -- and winning. They're crucial victories, but they don't happen without you.

Next year's election will be huge, that's for sure -- but the work we did in 2011 shows just what a grassroots campaign can do. Across the country this year, Democrats worked together and fought critical statewide battles on the ground.

In Mississippi, folks worked tirelessly to protect a woman's right to choose and soundly defeated the Personhood amendment, which would've made abortion illegal, including in cases of rape or incest, and even banned some forms of birth control.

Up in Maine, statewide Democratic groups worked together to overturn the state legislature's recent ban on allowing people to register and vote on the same day -- a nearly 40-year tradition that's helped the state have some of the highest voter turnout rates in the country.

And in the bellwether state of Ohio, the state Democratic party and progressive allies collected more than 300,000 signatures to stop a law that would greatly reduce how and when Ohioans can early vote -- and put it up for a statewide vote next year.

Thanks in part to thousands who were able to cast their ballots early, Ohio voters in November successfully repealed a collective bargaining law that would've stripped away the rights of teachers and firefighters to negotiate for important benefits and working conditions.

We have a ways to go to get the economy working for everyone, and there's much more work to be done.

But we have a lot to feel good about. We've worked together at the national level to make change that's going to affect millions of lives every day, like repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and we've banded together in our states and communities to stand for our party's principles.

It's what Democrats do.

But don't doubt that for every victory we've had this year, the GOP is ready and waiting to reverse it. Repealing health care reform, reinstating "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," restricting voting rights, and putting Personhood amendments on the ballot in other states are all things the other side has promised to do if given the chance.

That's why we need to be ready to fight for the change we've made -- and make certain we'll get to keep pushing for more.