Now is the time to canvass and win key races in an area right next door to us.
As you well know, activists must be careful about where and how they spend their time and energy. With so many fights at so many levels of government happening at once, and so many strategies and tactics to choose from, bandwidth and effectiveness are more essential considerations than ever in deciding how progressive activists should use their resources.
This is a fight worth fighting, and spending time here is worth it.
Here are ten damn good reasons why.
(If you’re thinking “You had me at the headline dude. I don’t need to hear the rest of this!” click here to see canvassing opportunities).
1) The timing is perfect.
The Pearland ISD Elections are in May. That’s just as massive block walks kick off for Houston City Council. 2020 Election campaigns haven’t even taken shape yet.
Between now and May is a gap when those who primarily focus on electoral politics as a mechanism for change have a gap in their election schedules. Even if you are not focused first and foremost on electoral politics, this is still a good time to flip these seats; candidates for later elections will be hitting events in higher volume later on, leaving plenty of time to birddog for later date.
The Texas legislature is still massively important, and deserves some attention, as do plenty of issues at the county and federal level, but now is a time when the electoral calendar has just enough of a gap for us to get out and spend extra resources in Pearland.
2) These are the wins we need most.
Local victories grant elected progressives outsized control and influence over policy. As the old adage goes, the closer someone’s front door is to your front door, the more influence they have over your life. Winning local elections has a massive, immediate impact on the lives of those in the community, and will massively impact the lives of parents, teachers, and students in the school district.
Local electoral victories also build up a bench; the victors in these races may be able to move on to higher profile seats at a later time thanks to the name ID and electoral work they put in now. And thanks to the experience they will have gotten on the job, they will be prepared to govern well in those positions later on, too.
The more of these wins we can pick up in red areas, the better. Progressives- not just Democrats, but people with progressive values- winning in areas where they “weren’t supposed to win” changes the entire investment calculus of fundraisers and organizations around the nation. Progressive progress in an area like Pearland may mean more money in Texas for 2020 elections, or more investment in rural and red suburban areas by state bundlers. We can’t just win where progressivism is already popular. We have to expand the map.
Wins like these do just that.
3) Wins in red turf energize our base for future elections.
The other advantage of winning in these areas is the energy and the expansion of the movement that comes with victory. Suddenly, people see progressivism as viable. Closeted progressives come out of the woodwork. Progressives who have been fighting for years take on a new energy and gear up for the next fight with wind beneath their wings. And moderates and even conservatives who previously viewed progressivism as the boogeyman may even have the opportunity to see that the movement isn’t so bad, and may even start to consider some our values and ideas as our candidates take seats.
After all, everyone loves a winner.
4) Wins in red turf demoralize the opposition.
Just as we want our side fired up and ready to fight, we want those who wish to quell civil rights to feel as though our victory is inevitable. While we would all prefer to persuade people over entirely and close the divide between progressivism and the opposition, some people aren’t persuadable (as many political consultants would attest).
People who have really ugly and hate-filled ideas may find their own energy in losing, but more often than not, taking what they assumed to be out of reach for we progressives will make them want to throw in the towel more than it makes them want to get up and fight. And should they want to get up and fight, that’s a good sign, too… it means we’re winning, right?
5) Winning three seats would officially flip control of the Pearland school board.
The Pearland ISD board is almost entirely Republican. The exception is Mike Floyd, who won his seat at 18 years old running principally on the issue of civil rights, particularly trans rights. Unfortunately for Mike, Pearland, and the progressive cause, the rest of the board votes 6-1 against progressive policies in many instances.
Winning three seats would give control of the school board to progressives. Instead of having one dissenting voice on the board, the center of gravity would lean left. The board presidency could later be taken by a progressive.
It’s simple math: three more votes means a majority that didn’t exist, and another local board flipped for our causes.
6) These candidates are worth fighting for.
Dona Murphey, Joseph Say, and Al Lloyd are running on a progressive slate and are worth fighting for. Backing them is not an alliance of convenience; these are candidates we can truly stand behind. Joseph (Former Executive Director of PSR Texas) and Dona (a doctor, parent, and Founder of PSR Texas) in particular have been active in the Houston community and fight for equity for all. They say what they mean, and the fact that they are choosing a local seat in their communities instead of trying to jump into something high profile only further speaks to their dedication to truly helping those around them instead of running for fame or glory. Al, an assistant principal at Bellaire High School, has dedicated his career to education and rounds out a very strong ticket with good credentials and values.
7) The hard right in Pearland has acted in particularly bad faith this election.
I’m not going to repeat or outline the extremist reputational hit jobs the hard right in Pearland has tried to level at the progressive candidates in the race, but please believe me when I say that if you saw them you would want to work that much harder to make sure our candidates win. Incumbents on the Pearland ISD board should denounce the attacks on the character of our candidates and the lies that underlie those attacks, but in lieu of that, defeating them at the polls would be a fitting counter to their vile dishonesty.
This is a chance to conquest over the trolls in our own backyard. How can we pass that up?
8) The votes are there.
These races are winnable. The only question is whether or not we do what we need to do to emerge victorious. Pearland may look red, but there is ground to make up out there, and activists can make it up by engaging the community and outworking the opposition.
9) Local elections often hinge on ground game.
Ground game is good for up to 5% in an election that can be measured. In other words, field work can make up five measurable percentage points in an election if it is running top notch. These points are measured by seeing which voters who were contacted went to the polls to vote.
Beyond that 5% ground game can also have numerous immeasurable impacts. When a canvasser introduces a candidate, the canvasser is usually the first impression that candidate is making on the voter. The first impression is hard to undo, and is likely to stick. In addition, people who are engaged by a candidate may be more likely to mention the candidate to others online, at the water cooler at work or other places. They may donate to the campaign or volunteer to knock doors themselves, or simply boost morale by bringing cookies to the campaign office.
The point is that canvassing matters and can change the outcome of elections. We saw that example in the case of Mike Floyd, who knocked tons of doors in Pearland in his race, and Elizabeth Santos, whose campaign team canvassed areas of HISD District I that had previously been overlooked.
Ground game can make the difference here, too.
10) It’s all on us.
An unfortunate fact exposed by the current administration and the horror show happening at various levels of government is that elected officials, larger institutions, businesses, etc. are not going to save us from our problems. It’s sad but true. There is no cavalry, no deus ex machina, no Zeus on horseback, lightning bolt in hand to step in and save us.
The only ones who can truly make change in our communities is us.
Here’s the good news:
I can think of noone braver, more courageous, or more worthy to make it happen.
Join the Pearland ISD Progressive slate for block walks now through election day on May 4th.
I will be walking as part of a MASSIVE 1000 Door Walk on April 7th.
You can see all future events and walks here.
Let’s go win!