The three things Democrats can do to win (maybe forever)
By Keith Carmona
On the surface, the groundswell of Indivisible activism has had little impact on the recent special elections — mostly GOP wins with one safe California seat defended. A closer look though offers some keys to a 2018 Democratic victory and the necessary 24 seats to take back the House. While there still exists some external factors that are out of their control (eg SOTUS’s decision on gerrymandering probably the most notable), there are some things they can do now — really must do now — to ensure the best chance to regain at least one branch of government.
- Run the best local candidate — Many liberals, Democrats, and progressives have lined up to challenge in GOP controlled communities not just for House seats, but even further down the ticket for school boards and supervisor positions. Much of this activism is because of the national Indivisible groups as well as other local associations under this umbrella group. Support has come mostly from local donations and volunteers. Marches, protests, phone calls, meetings, and networking are continuing — all key aspects for a sustainable movement. These activities will be essential to electing the best local candidates up and down the ticket. Where multiple candidates exist, liberals, Democrats, and progressives must get behind one candidate to give them the best chance at unseating a GOP controlled district. In most cases, this needs to happen before the primaries so the candidate and volunteers can canvass the districts to get out name recognition, and it will take a lot of door knocking, press releases, and targeted venue speeches to try to unseat a seasoned GOP representative who stands a 90% chance of getting reelected.
- Speak to moderates — Yeah, there’s not many left, but they’re out there. There are even fewer leaning districts now than there were in 2008, but picking off just a handful may make a difference, which is why the message needs to be a local one. Thus, an attack on Trump is not necessarily going garner much support from moderates, rather key local issues, pointing out the problem, and proposing a solution, will. Larger issues such as jobs, education, and healthcare (all of which are losing issues for Republicans) will at least get moderates listening. How these transform into local prosperity will get votes — sometimes the few thousand needed to win. It also means that issues such as gun control and military cutbacks aren’t going to play well in the Midwest as much as they would in say, San Francisco. But there is a way to bridge certain issues. Climate change and environmental issues are winners in California, whereas promoting green tech manufacturing would probably work in Missouri and Indiana. In both cases, we move this country into the 21st century with issues that speak to constituents. Of course to do this, Democratic leaders are going to have to bend — a lot.
- Stop liberal/progressive in fighting — This is the biggest challenge for anyone who considers themselves a liberal and/or progressive. Most Indivisible groups consist of Bernie supporters, Hillary supporters, Greens, Peace and Freedom, and the ever-increasing decline-to-state. That’s a lot of folks with varying points-of-view along the liberal/progressive spectrum. And while the groups have come together against Trump and those who carry his water, Democrats need to stop calling out those who are not of the same party affiliation. There’s been some skirmishes locally, but this split is taking on a national profile especially from progressive media personalities using the odd line of logic that Bernie isn’t a Democrat so he doesn’t really represent liberal or progressive issues. From a local standpoint, an equally damaging message is that the there are too many corporate Democrats who look out for Wall Street and charter schools. Neither of these is productive for what we hope will be a sustained coalition. The friendly fire needs to end, particularly from those at the top, either party operatives or those with media connections.
The midterms will offer countless opportunities for the Democrats to attack Republicans, but only if they keep these three points in mind: keep it local, keep it simple, and keep the left unified.
Keith Carmona is an independent progressive and a member of CA Indivisible 04. He can be reached at email@example.com.