If Democrats are to retake the House in 2018, they will need to start work now, in elections of 2017. In spite of gerrymandering, in spite of voter suppression, Democrats can make major gains in local elections that will set them up for success in 2018. And if Democrats are not interested in the job, that creates the opportunity for emergent parties to step forward and fill the vacuum.
I encourage progressives to take a look at the record of Virginia's Attorney General, Mark Herring. Herring is best known outside of Virginia for changing Virginia's ban on same sex marriage; but he also forced a settlement with a coal company to protect ground water, defended Virginia's ban on displaying a noose for intimidation, obtained debt relief and has generally run circles around the Republican legislature.
But the real opportunities like in the local races, state legislature and municipal elections. There is a real possibility that Virginia Democrats could retake their legislature, crucial for the upcoming redistricting in 2021. I know less about Kentucky and New Jersey, and I hope readers from those states will gives us the local outlook.
The political muscle that local parties develop in local races sets them up for victory in the federal races. It is easier to win as a congressional candidate if the local mayor and city council are members of your party. The people who volunteer in 2017 for local candidates are likely to volunteer again for congressional candidates in 2018. Moreover, they will know more about their community and will be more effective.
If you are an anti-fracking activist, you will want to be sure that your local city council will stand up to the fossil fuel industry. If you are a Black Lives Matter activist you will want to be sure that the candidates for District Attorney share your view of police accountability. If you support public education and oppose charter schools, you will want to make sure that your state legislators share your view.
Local elections are an indication of the shifts in public opinion. Electing progressive state and local officials will encourage candidates at the federal level to take a more progressive approach. It will encourage incumbent congressional representatives to “evolve” their views.
Precisely because local elections are low turnout, individual volunteers have the opportunity to shift the election. If you are successful in identifying your supporters and getting them to the polls you have an excellent chance to win. It was with the 2017 elections in mind that I wrote my book, The Precinct Captain's Guide To Political Victory. Read it, put even a fraction of its methods described therein into effect, and you can win.
The Precinct Captain's Guide To Political Victory, now available in the DownWithTyranny Bookstore.
UPDATE: Virginia State Senate
Jim Dean sent a note out to DFA members this morning endorsing the campaign of Ryant Washington. It’s helpful and he points out that “we can win a victory against Donald Trump and the Republican Party on Tuesday.”
Ryant Washington is a progressive champion running in a special election for Virginia State Senate. If he wins on Tuesday, Democrats will take control of the Virginia State Senate. It would be a huge blow to Trump and the Republicans.
At a time when Republicans are attacking health care, voting rights, and civil rights, we need to immediately begin taking back control of state legislatures so we can resist Trump and his bigoted agenda. That's why Ryant Washington's campaign is so important.
Ryant Washington is running a great, people-powered campaign. He has deep roots in the community and a lifetime of public service. He'll fight to protect health care and fully fund public schools, both of which are under attack by Trump and the Republican Congress.
In 2009 Republicans began winning these crucial state elections, and used those victories to begin moving the country far to the right. But we can turn the tables on them. If progressive Democrats like Ryant Washington win these elections, we'll show that America is ready to rebuild at the state and local level and win against Trump and his party's extremist, hateful agenda.
Tuesday's special election will be a tough race — but with two Republicans and one Democrat on the ballot, it's going to be won by the campaign with the best grassroots turnout operation. Ryant Washington is doing everything he can to build a strong, people-powered campaign. Now he urgently needs our help in this final weekend before the election.
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis