NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, November 10th, 2017

“This is what democracy looks like”: Read Manka Dhingra’s Election Night victory speech

Edi­tor’s Note: Sev­en­ty-two hours ago, offi­cials released the ini­tial results for con­tests appear­ing on Wash­ing­ton’s 2017 gen­er­al elec­tion bal­lot, includ­ing the close­ly watched race for State Sen­ate in Wash­ing­ton’s 45th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict. Short­ly after hear­ing the news that she had a near­ly ten point lead over her Repub­li­can rival Jiny­oung Lee Englund, Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date Man­ka Dhin­gra was wel­comed to the stage by Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son to address her sup­port­ers. The fol­low­ing is the text of her speech as pre­pared for deliv­ery.

Good evening, every­one.… the results are in!

Democ­ra­cy is alive and well. And it’s thriv­ing, right here in the 45th Dis­trict.

To the thou­sands of vol­un­teers who knocked on doors, made phone calls, licked envelopes, waved signs, and pound­ed the pave­ment on my behalf;

To my fam­i­ly – Har­jit, Kavi, and Isha – and my moth­er Chan­dan;

To my staff – Louise, Dil­lon, Ash­ley, Lainie, and Dane;

To my interns and the mem­bers of the Teen Cam­paign Com­mit­tee;

To all of the ded­i­cat­ed vol­un­teers, the mem­bers of Indi­vis­i­ble, Flip­pable, Sis­ter Dis­trict Project, and count­less oth­ers who decid­ed, “Now is the time for me to step up and join a cam­paign for the first time”;

To all of you… Thank you.

You are what democ­ra­cy looks like. And when democ­ra­cy wakes up, jus­tice wins.

I want to say con­grat­u­la­tions to Jiny­oung Englund on a race well run. It was an hon­or for me to have my first polit­i­cal cam­paign be against anoth­er strong, woman of col­or. Jiny­oung, your com­mit­ment to the peo­ple of our dis­trict and serv­ing our state nev­er flagged through a long, tough, high-pro­file cam­paign.

And you know, this was a tough cam­paign. A lot of mon­ey was spent on this race. A lot! And a lot of it was spent by peo­ple out­side our com­mu­ni­ty, bent on divid­ing us against each oth­er in hopes of mov­ing their own polit­i­cal agen­das for­ward. Some­where along the way, those peo­ple start­ed mak­ing this elec­tion about “us” vs “them.” And I don’t have to tell you – in that sto­ry, I was the “them.”

This play­book is being exe­cut­ed all over our coun­try right now.

When you see the pol­i­tics of trib­al­ism, mis­in­for­ma­tion, and mis­trust hap­pen­ing around you, when you see the hate and the fear and the divi­sion walk­ing around unafraid, it can be scary. It can be depress­ing. And it can hurt.

And when near­ly $2.5 mil­lion gets spent to aim those attacks at you, per­son­al­ly – I mean, I’m a pros­e­cu­tor, I’m a pret­ty tough per­son. But that’s still not okay.

But even in the face of all those attacks, I nev­er lost courage. And do you know why? It’s because of each and every one of you.

What I’ve learned from our com­mu­ni­ty dur­ing this cam­paign is that when we are attacked with fear, divi­sive­ness, and dis­hon­esty, we respond with love.

We respond with integri­ty, hon­esty, and a com­mit­ment to solv­ing prob­lems, togeth­er. And these are not val­ues that are bound to any par­tic­u­lar par­ty or iden­ti­ty. These are val­ues that we, as mem­bers of the 45th, and as Wash­ing­to­ni­ans, and as Amer­i­cans, believe in.

I learned the pow­er that love has, to deliv­er jus­tice, long ago, through my own fam­i­ly his­to­ry. In 1947, when colo­nial India was legal­ly sep­a­rat­ed along reli­gious lines into what are now India and Pak­istan, com­mu­ni­ties were ripped apart by reli­gious vio­lence, and tens of mil­lions of Hin­dus, Sikhs, and Mus­lims became refugees overnight. My fam­i­ly mem­bers were for­tu­nate. But instead of stay­ing inside and keep­ing their heads down, the women of my fam­i­ly decid­ed to go out into the refugee camps and help migrants of all reli­gious stripes on their jour­ney.

But this is not just a sto­ry of my fam­i­ly. This is the sto­ry of what makes us human. This refusal to let polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed divi­sions turn peo­ple against their fel­low human beings is a pow­er root­ed in love, and it’s one that I know will win, and it’s what I’ve seen over and over again dur­ing the course of this cam­paign.

A cou­ple weeks ago, I met a man in Duvall. He told me he was a small gov­ern­ment Repub­li­can and had vot­ed for Trump, but he was still going to cast his vote for me. When I asked him why, he said that the week­end before, one of our vol­un­teer can­vassers had knocked on his door.

It turns out this woman was a local teacher whom he knew and admired. She told him that she real­ly respect­ed me, and that was enough for him.

When it comes down to it, this is what democ­ra­cy is about.

It’s not about agree­ing on every­thing and pre­tend­ing we’re all the same.

It’s about being hon­est.

It’s about respect.

It’s about dis­agree­ing and debat­ing, but it’s also about lis­ten­ing and mov­ing for­ward. It’s about invit­ing that par­ent from your kid’s soc­cer team whom you know is on the “oth­er side” of the polit­i­cal spec­trum into your kitchen for cof­fee, and know­ing that even if he thinks schools should be fund­ed by prop­er­ty tax­es, and you think they should be fund­ed by car­bon tax­es, tomor­row, you’ll still be cut­ting orange slices and cheer­ing your kids on togeth­er.

In this fight against mis­in­for­ma­tion and dis­trac­tion and divi­sion that feels so sur­re­al at times – it’s real rela­tion­ships between real peo­ple that will save us.

And it’s not just polit­i­cal con­ver­sa­tions and neigh­bor­ly debate that a healthy democ­ra­cy enables. It’s also care, for and by each oth­er.

I recent­ly had a con­ver­sa­tion with a self-iden­ti­fied Lib­er­tar­i­an who opened his con­ver­sa­tion with me by say­ing, “Well, I don’t believe the gov­ern­ment should be inter­fer­ing in people’s lives.” We stood on his porch for about an hour, talk­ing about the role of gov­ern­ment in a free soci­ety and what that means.

Final­ly, the thing that won him over was when I told him about one of my proud­est accom­plish­ments in the King Coun­ty Prosecutor’s office – the estab­lish­ment of the Region­al Vet­er­ans’ Court. We have vet­er­ans, peo­ple who have sac­ri­ficed their lives, bod­ies and minds for us. Vet­er­ans, who are home­less and involved in our crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem. And this is sim­ply wrong. Often, they end up incar­cer­at­ed because of untreat­ed drug and alco­hol issues, pover­ty, home­less­ness, or PTSD.

When the gov­ern­ment sup­ports them by estab­lish­ing a spe­cial­ty court for address­ing these root needs – that’s not a hand­out.

The goal of Vet­er­ans’ Court is not to make vet­er­ans depen­dent on gov­ern­ment. It’s to give them the sup­port, ser­vices and care they need, so they can get the oppor­tu­ni­ties they deserve to stand on their own again.

These val­ues – com­mu­ni­cat­ing with each oth­er with curios­i­ty and with integri­ty, hon­or­ing and sup­port­ing each oth­er with com­pas­sion, and learn­ing to solve prob­lems togeth­er in a spir­it of inde­pen­dence and cre­ativ­i­ty – these are the val­ues that I will bring with me to Olympia as your State Sen­a­tor.

And with your help, I hope to build a state gov­ern­ment that empow­ers every sin­gle per­son in Wash­ing­ton to feel like they have a voice, like they have a role to play in mak­ing our democ­ra­cy thrive.

So tonight, as I stand before all of you who have con­tributed time and mon­ey and effort and pave­ment pound­ing to this cam­paign, say­ing thank you, I also want to speak to those peo­ple who didn’t come out this time or did not vote for me – those of you who might be feel­ing ner­vous, or uncer­tain.

I want to say to you – you are not alone.

I promise to rep­re­sent you. I promise to fight for you. I promise to bring integri­ty, hon­esty, com­pas­sion, and respon­si­bil­i­ty to the 45th, and to Olympia. But I also want to say, it’s not just me who’s going to fight for you.

It’s also peo­ple like Kei­th and Dix­ie, the retired cou­ple who, one week­end, got tired of yelling at the news on their TVs and have spent every week­end since then vol­un­teer­ing in my cam­paign office and knock­ing on doors, rain or shine or snow.

It’s Ty, Joe, and all the mem­bers of our Teen Cam­paign Com­mit­tee, many of whom can’t dri­ve or even vote, but who have been the lifeblood of this cam­paign.

It’s the Nov­el­ty Hill Resisters, who orga­nized a March for Man­ka last week­end and walked up and down Nov­el­ty Hill wav­ing signs.

It’s my fel­low East­side soc­cer moms who fought back against mis­lead­ing tele­vi­sion ads by post­ing a pho­to of them­selves on Face­book hold­ing a sign that said, #RealPeo­ple­For­Man­ka.

It’s the intern who spent hours can­vass­ing with me and talk­ing about the role of jus­tice in our lives, and who is now going to law school to get her J.D.

All of these peo­ple, and thou­sands more in our state, and mil­lions more in our coun­try, are prov­ing that if you care about democ­ra­cy, about jus­tice, about a free and equi­table soci­ety – you don’t have to per­son­al­ly have a lot of mon­ey, or con­nec­tions, or pow­er to make a dif­fer­ence. All you need is your com­pas­sion, your cre­ativ­i­ty, and the courage of your con­vic­tions. And all we need is each oth­er.

Ten months ago, we launched this cam­paign with the slo­gan, “Strength­en­ing Com­mu­ni­ties.” Tonight is the result of thou­sands of indi­vid­ual peo­ple decid­ing to turn those words into actions. Tomor­row is the begin­ning of turn­ing those actions into a future – for our dis­trict, for our state, for our coun­try, and for our world.
And this is what democ­ra­cy looks like. Thank you.


POSTSCRIPT: If Manka’s lead holds — as it has all week — she will assume the duties of her office on Novem­ber 28th, 2017. The NPI team thanks Sen­a­tor-elect Dhin­gra for shar­ing her remarks with our read­ers in this spe­cial guest post.

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One Comment

  1. That’s a very well done inclu­sive speech. I think the 45th dis­trict is in great hands.

    # by Mike Barer :: November 11th, 2017 at 7:13 AM

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