Start with the state houses.

January 17th, 2017

Yesterday I opined that, no, Americans—and American progressives—are not “doomed” by the incoming Administration. We’re certainly not helped, but it’s not the end.

Where, then, do we begin? I suggest that, while remaining vigilant and activist about what’s happening in Washington, progressives would do well to focus on local and state races.

This is hardly original advice on my part, and it’s hardly new. Here in Texas, Democrats have gone 0-for-the-21st-century in capturing any of the statewide electoral seats. (Y’all please correct me if I’ve overlooked some stray winner in there.) And it hasn’t been any better in the Texas Lege.

That trend applies nationwide, as Amber Phillips explains in this informative Washington Post article written just after the 2016 general election:

These 3 maps show just how dominant Republicans are in America after Tuesday

Note that the G.O.P. has this dominant position—such that about 80% of the country’s population lives in states whose governments are controlled by Republicans—even though Democrats win just as many votes, or even more votes, in the aggregate. (Exhibit A: Hillary Clinton’s large but ultimately irrelevant margin in the popular vote.)

So, what to do? Put more effort and money into the grind-it-out work that needs to happen at the grassroots level. Support and cultivate local candidates; take back seats.

It’s a long road, especially because movement conservatives have been focused on these efforts for decades (see the Phillips article for more details), and their entrenched position puts them in control for redistricting that benefits them after the 2020 Census. (The same thing happened after the last two rounds of the Census, too, which helps explain the bigger problem.)

But what else are we going to do—give up? No.

Long road. Lots of work. But worth it.

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