This Land Rising organizers are often asked: why the local focus when the sky is falling at the federal level? For the answer, we look to the most “American” of sports: Baseball.
If you want to win a baseball game, good defense is essential. But no matter how strong your defense is – your pitcher could even notch a no-hitter – you still need to put runs on the board to win the game, right? In this analogy, resisting the GOP agenda on the federal level is our defense. Critically important, but not enough on its own to get the “W.”
Without consistent offense, we will remain back on our heels for the foreseeable future. What does a progressive offense look like in this context? In the simplest terms: Offense is every state’s progressive citizens and leaders working toward hitting a home run – the trifecta of progressive control of both houses of the state legislature and the governorship.
The Republicans have been playing this long game – and playing it extremely well – for many years. As of the 2016 elections, Republicans control 68 legislative chambers across the US, and Democrats have 31. Republicans control both chambers in 32 states! As for the “trifecta,” Republicans have total control over 25 states outright. Democrats have total control outright in only six states. Even if Trump fails at the federal level, this is where his agenda will succeed: state by state, chamber by chamber.
The Republicans have been building up their minor-league bench, while the Dems have been focused on winning the World Series. It’s time for us to wake up, engage, get our own houses in order and set the stage for a progressive resurgence. Democrats are often criticized for not having a “message.” Here’s our opportunity to develop a message: achieve the trifecta in our home state, enact a progressive agenda and prove it works.
Another benefit of this “local first” strategy is that the more engaged we are at the local level, the more amazing candidates will run for local political office. Building our bench is a top priority. This augments the progressive candidate pipeline by training and preparing future leaders for the national stage. This is another area in which the Koch brothers and the Republicans have excelled while we progressives have been far too complacent, preferring to imagine that our beloved national leaders would hit a grand slam for us. That’s too much for any leader to deliver, no matter how talented, brilliant or well-intentioned. They needed us to do our part, to stay civically engaged, to mind our own houses. Where were we? (Wherever we were, can we just agree right now to never, ever go there again?)
Finally, and perhaps most critically, the party with control of the most state houses will heavily influence the redistricting process in 2021. Redistricting is the process by which states redraw their congressional and state legislative district lines based on 2020 census data.
You’ve probably heard the term “gerrymandering” thrown around. (It’s ok if you haven’t). Gerrymandering is an old word for a very current problem: a rigged system. It’s best explained with this image:
Image credit: Washington Post
Gerrymandering creates a structural disadvantage that is difficult to overcome. And the longer this inequality is in place, the harder it is to root out. Especially when the Russians are pinch-hitting for you..
This is it, folks. This is the whole ball game– it’s the bottom of the ninth and they loaded the bases. We have to regain control of our state houses and governorships over the next few years — there is no relief pitcher. The only people who can save a state, and ensure justly drawn legislative district lines, are its own residents. That’s why we focus locally. And we will work to spread the word to other states as well. Many hands make light work. Now, let’s commit to our democracy and start RISING.
Start or join a Rising Team today– get out of the stands and into the dugout!