While outside groups are getting the attention, local Democratic parties nationwide are seeing a surge of interest.
By Ryan Grim , Amanda Terkel
Local Democratic parties are confronting a problem in the Trump era that is as confounding as it is unexpected: space. “I’m as busy this year as I was at any time last year in the heat of a huge election,” said Mark Fraley, chairman of the Monroe County Democratic Party in Indiana.
The resistance to President Donald Trump has taken a variety of forms, all of them well chronicled by the media. The Women’s March, which saw some 5 million people take to the streets in a single day, helped fuel the growth of Indivisible chapters around the country, and has itself continued organizing meetings and protests since. The groups Swing Left, Flippable and The Sister District Project are routing people to swing districts where they can be most effective.
Democrats have already won two special elections in Virginia since November, and the state House and governor’s mansion will be up for grabs this fall. If Democrats can ride a new wave into power, the gerrymandering of 2010 can be rolled back. Local officials say they’re focused on creating a positive vision and a constant stream of activities to keep these new activists engaged.
Amid it all, observers and participants alike have wondered what the name is for this nascent movement. The Resistance? The Opposition?
But if the swelling ranks of county-level meetings are an indication of things to come, the grassroots movement underway already has a name. It’s called the Democratic Party.
Shocked by the outcome of the election and fearful for the future of the country, people of all ages, some of them Democrats, some independents, some Greens, found the time and location of a local party meeting and showed up.
Here are a few of their stories.
A Republican-dominated general assembly is churning out laws that target the state’s new minorities
VIRGINIA prides itself on being a birthplace of enduring democratic traditions. It was here that America made its first foray into representative government: in 1619, the House of Burgesses was created to govern the Virginia colony in partnership with a governor appointed by the British crown.
A Republican-dominated General Assembly is churning out legislation targeting the new minorities: Asian and Hispanic immigrants and LGBT Virginians, all of whom have a growing presence in the vote-rich metropolitan areas that favour Democrats. Such legislation—and the pointed debate it engenders—sharply contrasts with the image of Virginia as a forward-thinking, Upper South state that began to emerge in 1989 with the victory of L. Douglas Wilder as the nation’s first African American governor.
And though Virginia is a suburban-dominated state in which the majority of residents are non-natives with increasingly moderate views that favour Democrats, hyper-partisan gerrymandering has allowed Republicans, for most of the past 15 years, to maintain a firm grip on the legislature.
The next governor, in 2021, will accept or reject new legislative boundaries based on the previous year’s census. Population growth and accelerating diversity favour the Democrats, but those trends can be blunted with gerrymandering. A map that favours the Republicans is almost certain to be put in place if there is a Republican governor to sign it.
That allows Republicans to focus on ideas that matter most to their narrowing, conservative and largely rural base. They do not appear to mind that this projects, to an audience beyond Virginia, a discomfiting picture of America’s 12th-largest state.
Republicans are also pushing a requirement that residents registering to vote must produce a birth certificate. Likely to be vetoed by Terry McAuliffe, the departing Democratic governor, the bill would be the latest obstacle to voting pressed by Republicans in what Democrats say is a continuing effort to suppress turnout of their most reliable voters: seniors, students, minorities, and foreign-born newcomers.
The debate over these issues is a preliminary proxy battle over higher stakes. In November, Virginia will choose a new governor. The election is likely to be viewed as early referendum on the Trump presidency. Republicans no longer control Virginia’s statewide offices, such as governor and United States senator. And they are desperate to win back the governorship, if only to perpetuate Republican legislative power into the 2030s.
Read the rest http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2017/02/fruits-gerrymandering
A new, liberal tea party is forming. Can it last without turning against Democrats?
Grass-roots movements can be the life and death of political leaders. It’s a well-worn story now about how John A. Boehner, then House minority leader, joined a rising star in his caucus, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, in April 2009 for one of the first major tea party protests in the California Republican’s home town of Bakersfield.
It’s a well-worn story now about how John A. Boehner, then House minority leader, joined a rising star in his caucus, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, in April 2009 for one of the first major tea party protests in the California Republican’s home town of Bakersfield.
A little more than six years later, after they surfed that wave into power, the movement consumed both of them. Boehner was driven out of the House speaker’s office and McCarthy’s expected succession fell apart, leaving him stuck at the rank of majority leader.
The women’s marches that brought millions onto streets across the country the day after Trump’s inauguration — spurred organically through social media — opened Democratic leaders’ eyes to the possibilities.
Democrats are well aware of that history as they try to tap the energy of the roiling liberal activists who have staged rallies and marches in the first three weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency.
According to data collected by Erica Chenoweth at the University of Denver and Jeremy Pressman at the University of Connecticut, marches held in more than 600 US cities were attended by at least 4.2 million people.
What if they can fuse these protesters, many of whom have never been politically active, into the liberal firmament? What if a new tea party is arising, with the energy and enthusiasm to bring out new voters and make a real difference at the polls, starting with the 2018 midterm elections?
Don’t despair. Mobilize.
The 2018 midterm elections are the next best chance for progressives to regain power in our government—by taking back the House of Representatives.
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