Time For A Real Permanent 50 State Strategy

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Virginia and Kentucky were incredible stories from Tuesday night’s off year election. For that matter so was the major turn that suburban Philadelphia took, changing from nearly straight red to quite blue. For that matter even in Mississippi there was a good showing by the Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

Let’s face it at least since 2000 the Republican Party has been a party of racism, hate, misogyny and policies that almost exclusively favor the wealthiest 1%. They have been able to get elected by employing fear, lying and demonizing their opponents. The SCOTUS decision on Citizens’ United has given that party almost unlimited deep pockets to cover the country with operatives and TV advertisements.

But the last two elections – last year and this – have shown that the electorate is tired of the lies and the policies for the rich. What we need to do now is what Howard Dean proposed a decade and a half ago. We need a 50 state strategy. There are votes out there if we go after them.

Out of Tuesday night’s victories in Virginia comes this interesting article about how years of the very grunt work of democracy was instrumental in turning Virginia blue.  Tram Nguyen (co-executive director of New Virginia Majority ) writing in the New York Times Thursday discusses how the amazing wins in Virginia didn’t happen overnight:

“For decades, Democrats allowed the prize of an Electoral College victory to blind them to electoral opportunities elsewhere, staving off funding and failing to provide meaningful support for candidates, campaigns and local parties in places they had written off as unwinnable. The national Democratic Party spent millions in Virginia this year, but the state wasn’t always such a priority. From its position in the South to its prominent role in America’s legacy of oppression, Virginia was long considered reliably conservative — unbreakable. As recently as six years ago, Republicans controlled the office of the governor and the General Assembly.

Local organizations like mine understood the political potential of Virginia when we got started 12 years ago. We are winning because we recognize the power of an electorate that includes and reflects the diversity of our state. We don’t talk to voters only when campaign season rolls around. We try to reach voters of all colors, women, low-income workers and young people where they are, which has made it possible for us to develop a robust base of support along Virginia’s so-called Urban Crescent, from Northern Virginia to Hampton Roads. Long before Election Day, we registered more than 300,000 voters, knocked on more than 2.5 million doors, and organized within communities of color to help win significant policy changes like Medicaid expansion, which covered nearly 400,000 people.


The lesson here is that Democrats must not write off entire geographies or communities. It took years of organizing and multiple election cycles that resulted in incremental progress for Virginia to reach the point where a Democratic sweep was possible. The same arguments once used to justify chronic underinvestment in Virginia’s progressive potential have been used to undermine the potential of similar states in the South, including other states that saw important shifts Tuesday night, like Kentucky, where the Democratic candidate for governor, Andy Beshear, appeared to beat the Trump-endorsed incumbent, Matt Bevin, in a state the president won by 30 percentage points in 2016.

States don’t become battlegrounds overnight. Democrats and national progressive organizations have the resources to take their case to the people and win, but they have to start early and organize relentlessly. When they lose, they have to stay in place and keep fighting for every political inch they can get. No place is unwinnable forever.”

Republicans have been running 24 X 7 X 365 campaigns for a long time through their various PACs – such as the Koch ‘s ‘Americans for Prosperity’ – and think tanks for a long time. They also have the money to do that. What we don’t have in money we can make up in volunteers and good policy. It is really time to give hard consideration to Dr. Dean’s 50 state strategy again.

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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