Ben Chin: Truly a Class Act
|Thank you all for being here tonight, and for all the work you’ve done on this campaign.
I want to start by congratulating Mayor Macdonald. Mayor Macdonald and I have many differences, but he has devoted his life to public service: in the military, on the police force, in public schools, and at City Hall. It’s been an honor to engage with him during the campaign, and he has my respect and well wishes.
All of us knew we were taking on a two-term incumbent, who won by a twenty-point margin in 2013. We knew the campaign might get a little ugly, even if we always took the high road. We knew tonight might end this way.
Yet we knocked on tens of thousands of doors, listened to our neighbors, and crafted a vision anyway. We shined the light of public accountability on corporate slumlords anyway. We elected a new city council that has the power, regardless of tonight’s outcome, to lead our city into a new era. Perhaps most importantly, we modeled for so many people what a positive, grassroots campaign could look like.
We didn’t do this because we had the certainty of winning. By definition, hope exists in the absence of certainty. We did this simply because it was the right thing to do. We did this because this campaign was never about one person. It was always about building a movement that belonged to everyone.
That’s why I still have hope. In Romans, the Apostle Paul writes that “…we…glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-5). In my faith tradition, and in so many others, we recognize the redemptive power of hardship. It’s not what we want; it’s not what we deserve; but it makes us learn and grow and become even stronger. Tonight may be one electoral defeat for a candidate. But I have hope because it will only serve to make our movement stronger.
People voted today that had never voted in their life. People knocked on doors who had never done anything political before. And we aren’t going anywhere. We are going to back up the city council. We are going to pass referenda to raise the minimum wage and tax the rich to fully fund our schools. Everything that we’ve accomplished so far just makes those victories all the more likely.
Our city will never be the same. Let’s all promise each other to remember what tonight feels like, and use it as motivation to redouble our efforts next year. History is on our side. Victory is within reach, if not our grasp. Working with all of you has been the great honor of my life. Let’s keep our eyes on the prize.