Since Jon Ossoff’s vanquishing in last week’s special congressional election, people have asked— what do the Democratic National Committee and other leaders need to do now? What is the first step for being led out of the wilderness? Facetiously, my response was to burn down their building and collect the insurance money.
But in all seriousness, the discussions stemming this aftermath miss the mark. Whether or not House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi stays or goes is not all that important. Nor is whether or not congressional candidates in Texas align more with the Clinton-wing like Ossoff, or the Sanders-wing, like Rob Quist in Montana. (Both candidates lost, the latter even after his opponent assaulted a reporter.)
What is important is that liberals, progressives, moderates, Neoliberal Shills, centrists, frustrated conservatives, apathetics and anyone who does not appreciate the direction toward which this country is barrelling participates in the next election. What can you do now? Organize and vote. What can you do next week? Organize and vote. What can you do next year? Organize and vote.
Organize and vote. The phrase needs to be repeated until it’s the first thing folks say in the morning and the last thing they say at night. It needs to be pounded into the heads of slothful Millennials who have hitherto not been bothered to vote but once a quadrennial, screamed at them until blood is coming out of their ears.
Organize and vote.
The excuses to not are unconvincing. But Texas is a safe state, it’s gerrymandered, I’ve heard ad nauseum, doesn’t voting here just not matter?
It all matters. Congress can impeach Donald Trump, of course, but it can also block odious rollbacks of civil rights, imperative financial regulations and protections for the sick, elderly and disabled. A Democratic-controlled -- or even more competitive -- Senate can block presidential appointments if deemed too controversial. The State Legislature can push back against Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s hellish fantasy for Texas, and counties, cities and school boards can implement local reforms and defend badly-needed federalism. It all matters, and it is all only possible if people organize and vote.
The stakes have not been higher in our lifetime. The Republicans have a compelling worldview. It is up to you to determine whether or not you want that worldview to come to pass.
Republicans want to destroy the entirety of the New Deal/Great Society welfare state. They want to end welfare and decimate food stamps. They want to decapitate Medicaid and privatize/voucherize Medicare and Social Security. Their policies will make it so that, except for the wealthy, a cancer diagnosis is an automatic bankruptcy/foreclosure, death sentence or both. They will destroy the public school system, giving parents comically insufficient vouchers, and forcing the majority of students into crappy, for-profit institutions that often advocate a worldview through the lens of fundamentalist Christianity. They want to outlaw abortion and legalize discrimination. They want to pack the federal courts with zealots who will favor big business over the people every time, and make it so that working folks wronged will have no effective recourse and no day in court. They want to leave the country in a state of perpetual war, and solve crises only through bloodshed and not diplomacy, much to the danger of the young men and women in our armed forces. And, of course, the #CheerfulWhiteFolk, at their most base desires, want to isolate, persecute and hurt the people who are different.
Voting perhaps once every four years will not stop that future. Organizing and voting at every opportunity may.
It is up to you. Organize and vote. It’s not just the best strategy, it’s the only one.
Horwitz is a second-year law student from Houston. He is senior columnist.