Sunday, November 11, 2018

Reflections on the Resistance

Things are looking good (very good as I write this) for some races in Arizona. It looks like Jeff Flake’s Republican seat in the U. S. Senate is flipping; Sinema leads McSally by nearly 30 thousand. Kirkpatrick looks to reclaim the CD2 House seat. The Superintendent for Public Instruction and a seat on the Corporation Commission look solid for Dems. The LD2 races are solid as well. The AZ House 35–25 advantage for Republicans was reduced to 31–29.

Nationwide Dems had some remarkable successes, flipping at least 30 House seats and getting within striking distances of taking governor seats in Georgia and Florida.

Now you could go pessimistic on me and point to the great many races we lost: governor and other state-wide offices in Arizona, for example. However, consider how grim it all looked after the nation elected Trump and what it now looks like with a Democratic majority in the U. S. House. Trump campaigned in 2018 in an election he considered all about himself. “Sure, Donnie,” we should think and say. “You want the 2018 results to be about you? Fine.”

How did we get our victories? Resistance. Indivisible. Action. We need to keep it up and ride the Blue Wave into 2020.

Counting of Arizona ballots continues through next Wednesday. In spite of the spite spread by the GOP leaders, there is no fraud - just hard working folks in County Recorder offices doing their jobs. Tim Steller has a good piece in this morning’s Daily Star: Slow Arizona vote-counting doesn’t show fraud.

So take a deep breath and a vacation from electoral politics for a few days. And then let’s get back to work on 2020. During your break, read Michelle Goldberg’s NY Times essay on how The Resistance Strikes Back. Two years of progressive organizing built the blue wave. Here’s some of it.

In April 2017, progressives across America turned toward Georgia’s Sixth District for the race to fill the House seat vacated by Tom Price, who’d become President Trump’s (short-lived) secretary of health and human services. That affluent, highly educated district in Atlanta’s northern suburbs had been solidly Republican for decades; Newt Gingrich had held it for 20 years, and Price won his 2016 election by more than 23 percentage points. But Trump had prevailed there only narrowly, and Democrats dreamed of using the special election to rebuke him.

A great many local women, some awakened from political indifference by shock and revulsion at Trump’s victory, threw themselves into his campaign. Money poured in from all over the country for the Democratic candidate, Jon Ossoff. It became the most expensive House contest in history.

He lost. Afterward, people complained — often on cable TV — that Democrats had squandered their money. But last week, some of that investment finally paid off.

On Thursday we learned that a year and a half after Ossoff’s loss, Lucy McBath, an African-American gun control advocate, had flipped the seat.

McBath’s victory was emblematic of the Resistance triumphs in the midterms. There was no immediate catharsis on Tuesday, no definitive national rebuke of a president whose bottomless depravity continues to dumbfound more than half the country. But the steady work of citizens who’ve been trying, over the last two years, to fight the civic nightmare of Trumpism bore fruit. It was a slog, pockmarked with disappointments. At the end, though, there was hope.

During the Ossoff campaign, “we built an army of volunteers,” said Stacy Efrat, a mother of three with a full-time job who’d organized voter registration drives most weekends this year. “We built the Resistance in the Sixth District, and we already had our infrastructure in place to work on the Lucy election.”

As I write this, Democrats have flipped at least 30 House seats, and their total haul could go as high as 40. Democrats virtually wiped out the Republican Party in the Northeast, but they also won new seats in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and South Carolina. The party is on track to make more gains in the House than it has in any election since Watergate’s aftermath. Across the country, Democrats flipped at least 333 statehouse seats, a third of all those lost over the course of Obama’s presidency.

The seeds of this success were planted after Trump’s election, when all over America scared, angry people searched for mechanisms that could constrain him. The democratic institutions that should have thwarted an authoritarian demagogue like Trump had failed, said Ezra Levin, co-founder of Indivisible, which would quickly become one of the most important Resistance groups. People were “looking around to see who or what was going to come and save them,” Levin said. “And the answer was nothing. The answer was that they had to do it themselves.”

Shortly after the Sixth District was called for McBath, I asked Efrat if she was going to take a break. “Now we’re scrambling trying to get the provisional vote counted for Abrams,” she said, referring to the fight over the tally in the Georgia governor’s race. Consumed with that work, she felt bad about missing the protests on Thursday against the firing of Jeff Sessions that had sprung up all over the country at a moment’s notice.

After this past week, people in the Resistance are exhausted. But they’re not resting.

Look at 2020 without fear. Look at 2020 as an opportunity to continue the Blue Wave. Senate seats are up for grabs. There are more House seats to be had. There are statewide races to be run and won. And there are plenty of angry women willing to run for office and motivated by Trump’s “bottomless depravity” which will continue unabated and untutored by the 2018 results.

So, along with others in the Resistance, come Thursday, as Ed Schultz says: “Let’s get to work!”

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