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Our Obsession With Political Viability

Apologies for not writing this week. My parents and sister drove into town last Thursday and my weekend was spent laying low with them. Then there was work and the campaign–well, it’s been quite a blur. Not much time to sit down and write.

But since it is Friday, and I get most of my blog views around this time, I thought I’d share a quick post of some reflections I have had this week. Since receiving a big endorsement from AFSCME, I am now anxiously awaiting to hear from a couple of other endorsements in the coming days, so wish me luck.

The irony of this anxiety around these endorsements, however, is what has lead to me to write about this obsession we have with political viability.

Is a candidate electable? Will she/he raise enough money? Will she/he hit x number of doors?

Etc, etc. 

If we’re thinking about winning elections in the short term, I get it. But let’s be real. We’re shooting ourselves in the foot because our communities are being short changed by this mindset. What I am talking about is looking long-term…

Transforming our communities.

Don’t know what I mean? Here’s an example.

In the fall, I participated in this campaign managing training and there were some elected officials in attendance. One of the question’s they raised to the presenter was,

“How do we defeat the outside money that’s coming into our elections? We can’t possibly win?!”

Annoyed, I was about to raise my hand to answer–but the presenter responded before she could call on me and said,

“You knock on doors and you talk to voters!”

The elected was…silent, and then confused. Like, as if they didn’t understand the answer.

I wanted to ask,

“When was the last time you knocked on doors and talked to your constituents?”

Which brings me back to my reflections on endorsements, fundraising and viability for my race specifically–and every other democratic race for that matter.

As progressives, if we envision a better world for our community, it is imperative that in order to do the best thing for all of us, we must change our ways and focus on the long-term, which means base-building and voter registration year around–and not waiting until the last few months before a race.

More importantly, for the elected–the work begins with base building and it must start on day 1 of their term.

I know. It is easy for me to say, right? I am not yet an elected–so what do I know?

I can already hear them tell me,

“You don’t know how hard it is?”

Ok, yes. And what I am saying is that it is not the responsibility of one policy maker to do it all and to make this difference. What I am suggesting is that progressives, particularly those of us at the local and state levels, we should work to change the narrative–to let go of chasing after the money just to keep up with our opposition (because we can beat the money) and be honest with ourselves: we will never have their kind of money.

So let’s do what we do best. Let’s organize. 

That I can promise and I will do it when elected.

And…let’s be real. I’ll still do it if I am not.


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