Once again Democrats are touting falling short as a moral victory. Georgia District 6 candidate Jon Ossoff came approximately two percentage points from winning the seat outright. Donald Trump won that district by one percentage point. In other words, Ossoff underperformed Hillary Clinton based on the delta loss points. That is the fact. In other words, the failure and incompetence of the Trump administration have not yet marginally changed the characteristics of the district’s electorate. Those are the numbers. Forget that Tom Price won it by north of 20 points. After all, he was the incumbent. We do not need to fool ourselves.
Democrats claimed the same moral victory in Kansas when James Thompson lost his race by an acceptable margin. Democrats see perceived shrinking margins in defeat as victories slated for the future. I see it as pulling the wool over the head. Why? Every time Democrats get close, Republicans will tweak their message. In the case of Ossoff, they have 60 days to do so.
One should not tout losing less badly. One should promote winning. Winning stories like the ones reported in The Huffington Post recently is a perfect example.
The city of Kankakee elected its first African-American, Democratic mayor. West Deerfield Township will be led entirely by Democrats for the first time. Elgin Township voted for “a complete changeover,” flipping to an all-Democratic board. Normal Township elected Democratic supervisors and trustees to run its board ― the first time in more than 100 years that a single Democrat has held a seat.
Khalid Kamau, a very Progressive activist lawyer, endorsed by Our Revolution earned a city council seat in South Fulton, Georgia, a newly incorporated municipality outside Atlanta in a landslide with a grassroots message. He engaged the average American on their turf. High priced ads did not get him elected; engaging with people did.
Progressives from around the country invested over eight million dollars in getting Jon Ossoff into a runoff. How many additional dollars will be spent trying to take the seat? If he wins, it is a symbolic victory. But win or lose it would have been a waste of resources that could otherwise get spent in local elections to bring more Progressives into office in local races throughout the country.
Most Americans are progressive in most of their values. When asked about the policies they support, whether it is social security, Medicare, the right to health care, pay-it-forward education, etc., they support these by overwhelming margins. Even on most social issues, they agree with at a lesser majority. So why is it so hard for Progressives, the folks who by definition will materially make the lives of the middle-class and the poor better, have a hard time winning? — a failure to communicate.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. How many times do we hear consultants tell Democrats you just need to bring out the base for a win? What happens when many in that base come out but instead vote against their interest as they did in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin? When will Democratic leaders realize what Republican consultants know but do not say? Party affiliation when folks enter the confines and privacy of the voting booth is fungible. And the Party or group who reaches that voter on the carnal level ultimately wins.
The corporate establishment always knew that. Over the last several decades they’ve executed the Powell Manifesto, written by Democrat Lewis Powell with abandon. The Republican Party and corporate Democrats have not deviated from its tenets. It is the reason we have an Affordable Care Act that uses insurance companies that pilfer the average American citizen. It is the reason pharmaceutical companies are allowed to charge us extortion prices for drugs originally developed with taxpayer dollars. It is the reason we do not have single-payer – Medicare-for-all health care and universal health care which is in effect in some form in every democratic industrialized country in the world.
So how does one break the insanity? Remember that Party affiliation is fungible. People vote for those they connect with from the gut. One can demonstrate that Republican policies materially hurt most Americans. But the GOP wrap themselves in the flag, America First rhetoric, and they instill a fear of the other. Progressives must use those same impulses with the truth framed in similar terms.
Progressives must understand that it is more than bringing out the base. It is about expanding and educating the base. The Right counts on ignorance and we must remember that ignorance defines our original state of being. The process of growing and teaching must start locally. We build trust locally.
All Americans want a good education for their children. That is one place where people can work together to elect school boards that are looking out for children. Parents working together will soon realize that the funding and laws they need to do better by their kids need legislation and financial support from the state. If the state politicians do not oblige, those same politicians get booted out. If the federal politicians do not support the requests of the state politicians and the locals, they are voted out. The common interest with people working together can make a we-the-people government.
The aforementioned may be overly simplistic, but the process is definitely on point. It requires hard grassroots work to bring people together at the same time that we fight the misinformation machine of the many Washington Think Tanks like the Heritage Foundation and others. But it can be done. We must do it. If Progressives win locally, by winning the hearts and minds of their friends, neighbors, co-workers, and acquaintances by working on issues of shared concerns, the national wins will follow.
Also published on Medium.