Is at the local level. Joy Reid is exactly right, the important organizing has to happen on the local level, especially with the upcoming state races in 2018.
But those waiting for the Republican-dominated Congress to restore the protections of the Voting Rights Act will wait in vain. Better to get cracking on the 36 governor’s races, in states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nevada and Florida; even Arizona and Texas; plus the two contests in 2017, in Virginia and New Jersey, plus the many secretaries of state up for election too. Because the party that holds the governor’s mansion and the office of secretary of state holds the key to elections—to whether provisional ballots are counted or tossed; whether and how voter ID laws are enacted and enforced; and whether polling places and working machines will be fairly distributed or doled out on the basis of partisan advantage.
Republicans have made it clear that wherever they hold the reigns of state power, they will do almost anything to limit the right of Democratic-leaning populations to vote. After January 20, who’s to stop them? Certainly not a Justice Department headed by Jefferson Beauregard Sessions.
Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, and fellow activists in the state have shown progressives the meaning of hope. They succeeded in 2016 where the Clinton campaign failed—tossing out the governor (though Republican Pat McCrory is still refusing to concede), flipping the attorney generals’ office and putting a black justice on the state’s Supreme Court. This may yet enable Democrats to rescue healthcare and voting rights in the state.
Defeating McCrory also opens to the door to vetoing ugly legislation like HB-2, which not only assaulted the dignity of trans citizens, it cost the state billions of dollars in revenue from the NBA and other businesses and organizations who shunned the state, while also eviscerating the right of municipalities to raise their minimum wage.
Governors and state legislators hold the power to protect and defend public schools from Betsy De Vos-style privatization; state colleges and teachers unions from Scott Walker-style defunding and attacks on their pensions and healthcare; and public and sacred Native American land from the federal, taxpayer-funded giveaways to drillers, frackers and developers that are surely coming under Trump. They will be the first line of defense in fighting climate change and are the decision-makers on whether their state will accept or reject federal funds for building high-speed rail and green energy production, and the jobs that come with them.
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