How to help Democrats win the 2018 midterms — starting now
We’re beginning to see what the Trump administration will look like. So far it’s as extremist as feared.
“A man associated with white supremacy and misogyny will be White House chief strategist; a man rejected for a judgeship because of alleged racism will be attorney general; and an Islamophobe who has taken money from Moscow will be national security adviser.” — Nicholas Kristof
All over America, people are figuring out how to resist. We’re joining groups, pledging to stand with targeted minorities, contacting our representatives, speaking out, and giving money to organizations ready to fight for our values.
We’re also starting to think about future elections. It’s critically important to restore the balance of power in Washington and across the country.
The traditional Democratic Party leadership has failed. Acknowledging and analyzing responsibility for this failure is difficult but necessary.
Hopefully the recent election will shut the door on that era, and open the door on a new one.
On the Importance of the 2018 Midterm Elections
Of the 2016 elections, Rudy Giuliani said “There’s no next election. This is it.”
Let’s prove him very wrong.
It’s often noted that the ruling party loses seats in Congress during midterms. However, this time we can’t take that for granted.
The 2018 election map is extremely unfavorable to Democrats and progressives. Winning the upcoming midterms looks incredibly difficult, especially for the Senate.
Of the 33 Senate seats up election, only eight are Republican. Five of those Democrats are defending seats in “ruby-red” states.
Indeed, Mitch McConnell could be looking at a supermajority in the Senate.
Start Gearing Up Now
Republicans are going to fight like hell to keep their grip on Washington. They’re going to tell us it’s impossible for Congress to turn blue.
But that’s just a tactic to weaken our resolve.
The odds are daunting but not insurmountable. We just need to chip away at it, month after month. That’s why it’s important to start now.
“All representatives are elected every two years for a reason: This legislative body is designed to swing with popular opinion.” — Simon Johnson
Start Following 2018 Election News Now
Here are two places you can already read 2018 election news:
By tuning into election news now, you’ll have a greater chance to shape and influence the national story as it unfolds. You’ll also have an easier time knowing where to direct your attention, efforts, and reactions.
To avoid news burnout, try a media diet. Consider using Feedly to create a one-stop destination for news (and to get you out of social media’s filter bubble).
Here are Wikipedia pages providing an overview of the upcoming elections.
Connect With Your State Democratic or Progressive Party
In the article “The Democratic Party Lost Its Soul. It’s Time to Win it Back,” Robert Reich points out that:
“Almost no registered Democrats have any idea how to go about electing their state Democratic chair or vice-chair, and, hence, almost none have any influence over whom the next chair of the Democratic National Committee may be.”
He goes on to note that “To tell you the truth, I haven’t cared. And that’s part of the problem.” I think most of us can relate.
Ultimately, the national Democratic Party is shaped by the state parties. Real change happens from the bottom up. Thus I suggest digging in and learning more about your state Democratic party.
Find out how it’s organized. Join their email lists, subscribe to their events calendar, follow them on social media. Go to meetings and see how it all works.
You can influence your state’s party. You can play a meaningful role in the primaries that decide who the party will send to the polls in November. You can help coordinate the direction of your local Democratic party from the grassroots.
This is the best moment in recent history to help remake the Democratic Party so it better represents your values.
I hope progressives hear this message — even those who have traditionally disdained the mainstream Democratic party.
- Here is a list state parties of the Democratic party on Wikipedia
- Here’s a similar list on Democrats.org.
Start Learning About Who’s Running (Or Might Be Running)
If you’re connected with your state Democratic party (or progressive equivalent) as suggested above, you’ll know who’s running locally.
But how to know who to support nationally?
Brand New Congress has an audacious goal of “recruiting and running 400+ candidates as a single, unified campaign for Congress in 2018.” They are currently ramping up and are recruiting candidates. Bookmark this site.
Emilyslist.org is dedicated to electing pro-choice women to office.
If you have further suggestions for an index of 2018 candidates, let me know and I’ll add it here.
Follow the National Democratic Leadership
The national Democratic party doesn’t have much visibility between elections, and it hasn’t traditionally been involved at the grassroots. Most of the time they’re just asking for money.
The same goes for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Occasionally, however, they release meaningful information, or seek feedback on issues. And it’s useful to know what they’re talking about.
Join their email lists, follow them on social media, bookmark their sites, and subscribe to their website’s RSS feeds.
- Democrats.org — Website of the Democratic party.
- Medium.com/to-the-left — Medium account for the Democratic party
- Facebook.com/democrats — Facebook page for the Democratic party
- @TheDemocrats — Twitter feed for the Democratic party
- @SenateDems — Twitter for leadership staff of Senate Democrats
- @HouseDemocrats — Twitter feed of the House Democratic Caucus of the U.S. Congress.
- DSCC.org — Home of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
- @dscc — Twitter feed for Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
- DCCC.org — Home of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
- @dccc — Twitter feed for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
Stash Money Now to Donate Later
Campaigns run on money. It’s better when campaign donations come from many small donors vs a few heavyweights. Donating money is a powerful way to support and magnify a campaign’s message.
But it’s not always easy to come up with funds to do this — especially if you’re supporting several campaigns across the country.
That’s why I suggest creating a campaign fund now. Every week, put aside a few dollars to later donate directly to your candidate. Call it your Dump Trump jar.
And don’t raid it for beer money, no matter how weird the next two years get.
Listen to the Other Side
Much has been said about how liberals and conservatives need to listen to each other to escape their filter bubble. It’s harder and harder to find a “common basis of agreement.”
But I think it’s just as important to listen to the other side as a strategic move. Hilary Clinton’s campaign might have had a different result with better listening.
Use Social Media to Bolster Your Candidate Early in the Election
Follow your candidates early, and occasionally share their social media updates on your accounts to help lend them visibility and credibility.
When you “like” a candidate's Facebook page and follow them on Twitter, you’re sending a public social signal that they’re worth listening to.
Not only that, but some social media algorithms will automatically promote these accounts as they gain popularity.
Reach Out to Friends and Family in Other States to Gain Their Support
You can passionately support a candidate outside of your state, but at the end of the day you can’t vote for them. Consider calling or emailing friends and family in those states who can. Let them know why you’re supporting the candidate.
Ask them to like the candidate’s Facebook page and subscribe to their newsletter. Ask them to tell their friends about the candidate. Plant that seed of awareness.
Choose Your Battles & Pace Yourself
It will be several months before midterm campaigning begins. Pace your efforts. Use the time now to protect yourself. Look for groups to join. Meet new people. Protest. Plan on sharpening your focus on direct political outreach in support of candidates next winter.
“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
What am I missing? Share in the comments and I will update the article.