By Ken Singer
Lots of people were shocked and dismayed by the November election. Some gathered in small groups to mourn, rather than celebrate the outcome of the presidential race. Others became depressed and walked around feeling helpless and sought support from others dealing with similar emotions.
The Indivisible Guide (indivisibleguide.com), written by a number of Congressional aides, gave advice to people who wanted to do something constructive that would get their representatives in Washington to take notice. People started calling and sending postcards to
their legislators, and some joined the Women's March on January 21, following the inaugural, which culminated in millions of people marching in cities around the world.
Colorado Conscious Action (CCA) in Lyons, organized several buses to the March in Denver sending more than 130 people. CCA has been meeting to work on developing strategies for fostering diversity, protecting the environment, and advocating for justice for all, among other goals. Some CCA members were determined to find ways to take more immediate action on political issues.
Even before the march, local activists and people wanting to express their concerns over what they feared were steps backwards on the environment, justice, diversity, health reform, and economic justice, among other issues, formed groups nation-wide to make their voices heard in Washington and throughout the country.
One well-known Lyons resident, Edward Kean, found a new national organization called Swing Left (swingleft.org), which identified 52 “swing districts” for the 2018 elections. The strategy here is to work in these “purple” districts that voted Republican by slight majorities in recent elections, and help turn them “blue.” If only 30 congressional districts of the 435 House seats (all of these seats are up for election every two years) could be turned from the GOP to the Democrats, the House would change hands, thus breaking the exclusive Republican hold on the presidency and Congress.
In addition to the Keans' activism in the Swing Left and CCA movements, Edward is also promoting additional action because, he said, “protesting is not enough”, although he supports signing petitions, showing up at town halls, and making calls to our representatives in Washington. Another national organization, “Sister District” (sisterdistrict.com), Edward feels is also empowering at a more local level. State governments control their representative districts and many states have used these powers to allocate “safe” districts for incumbents.
The strategy of “Sister District” is that Republicans have organized for years at the local and state levels through redistricting (“gerrymandering,” which both parties do), voters in many jurisdictions that have given the GOP control of county governments and state legislatures, as well as governorships. Although Hillary Clinton's popular vote majority of nearly three million (notwithstanding President Trump's assertion of “millions of fraudulent votes” were cast for her), the Electoral College majority was won by Trump.
Gerrymandering and voter suppression laws at the state levels have guaranteed that incumbents (despite very low approval ratings of Congress) have won to keep Republicans in power. Sister District's website notes, “the majority of the country's voters voting Democrat (in the Presidential race), this year Republicans claimed 55% of the seats in the House of Representatives and 32 state governments. Republicans are now just six states short of having the power to amend the Constitution.”
In its mission statement, Sister District states it intends “to target significant local, state, and national elections that could swing blue (or need help staying blue) and provide them with volunteers in close geographic proximity who can channel their energy toward the goal of winning specific important elections. With this targeted, individualized approach, volunteers will have a discrete and specific goal with measurable success. One by one, we will flip and secure these races for progressive candidates. In so doing, we will re-build the pipeline of progressive candidates at the state and local levels, we will win back state governments and bring fairness to redistricting, and in 2018, we will take back the House and ensure that all Americans have an equal voice in Congress.”
In another awareness-raising activity, Edward hosted a live telecast at the Wildflower Pavilion last Saturday by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). This “town hall” on resistance to the Trump administration's ban on Muslims and refugees coming to the US, was one of 2000 local broadcasts that 200,000 people attended in all 50 states. Over 60 Lyons area residents came (as well as a few who were shut out from a gathering in Longmont due to over-capacity.)
With a number of people who were shocked and depressed by the election results, Edward and others have said that the best way to get past the sadness, anger, or frustration that many feel, is to take action. Organizations such as CCA, Swing Left, Indivisible Front Range (indivisiblefrontrangeresistance.org), and Sister District are groups which people can check out to channel these feelings into actions.