A Progressive Resistance is Brewing in Virginia
“We decided that we had to keep going.”
That’s how the co-founders of One Vote At A Time, Sarah and Lauren, chose to respond to the presidential election of Donald J. Trump. One Vote At A Time began as a concerted effort to advocate for gun safety legislation. After the election of Trump, the “people-powered, progressive SuperPAC” of female filmmakers transformed into an all-encompassing “fight for progressive causes. We realized that we couldn’t just focus on gun safety anymore.”
After all, for them, this is a battle for the future of our country — and they want to win.
And so Sarah and Lauren, both professional filmmakers themselves, decided to utilize their filmmaking abilities to create campaign videos for progressive candidates for the Virginia House of Delegates in the November 2017 election.
“Video is especially useful as a campaign tool because of its popularity on social media…a good video will be shared and will make people laugh and cry and feel something.
One Vote At a Time chose to work on Virginia for logistical and symbolic reasons. Logistically, it’s one of the few states that enjoys an off-year election cycle, so it’s easier to “put a lot of resources towards” Virginian campaigns.
Critically, the Virginia House of Delegates holds the power to draw the district lines for both the House of Delegates itself and Congress. All current statewide officers identify themselves as Democrats, but the House of Representatives itself is about ⅔ Republican — meaning Republican gerrymandering is alive and well in Virginia, a state controlled by “a legislature that does not really represent the people,” Sarah says.
Some estimate that because of this gerrymandering, Virginia is allotted two less Democratic representatives in the House than it should. And two votes, alone, could have been enough to prevent AHCA from passing in the House. Local and national politics are influenced by each other, says Lauren:
“We really want people to understand how local and national politics affect each other. We want people to get involved locally where they are. And we want them to pay attention to local races in other parts of the country, because even though they seem irrelevant they are actually heavily intertwined to national policy outcomes.”
Symbolically, Virginia, like Georgia’s special election before it, will be a test of “the strength of the resistance.” This election will be an interesting indicator of where the nation’s current political attitude lies as Democratic turnout increases, with more and more Democrats coming out to vote, as exemplified by the Virginia primaries that were held just about a week ago.
“If the Virginia election results in Democratic victories, it will show Republicans that they will have electoral consequences for their legislative lunacy. It will show them that there are consequences for their corruption, and for taking people’s healthcare away,” says Sarah.
Sarah and Lauren hope that a Virginia win in 2017 will lay the groundwork for Democratic support in the 2018 midterm elections, and allow them to expand their efforts to more candidates in more states.
One Vote At A Time plans to work directly with progressive candidates to produce and promote campaign videos.
“We want to support candidates who aren’t getting a ton of help from other groups to maximize the impact of our efforts and our donors’ money, in addition to taking into account which candidates’ chances would most be increased by our help.”
The filmmakers understand that different “parts of the country have different needs” — so they plan to listen to the stories of the people in Virginia, “hearing what is important to them that also aligns with the issues that are really important to us.”
They want their videos to amplify the voices of Virginians:
“We want to draw the line for people. We want to listen to their experiences, and show them why the solution to their problems is to elect Democrats to office.”