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Finding My Way Forward by Looking to 2018

By Seth Freilich | Politics | November 14, 2016 |

By Seth Freilich | Politics | November 14, 2016 |

Those of us who are disappointed, gutted and terrified by Tuesday’s election results are trying to figure out the way forward. I’m still squarely in Kübler-Ross anger mode, but I’m trying to tunnel my way out and past the remaining stages to get myself into the undocumented stage 6, Fix This Shit. On Friday, I used our own guide of charities that need our help to set up a number of monthly contributions. Giving money is easy, for those of us privileged enough to have the money to give. It’s too easy to let complacency set in, “well, I’m kicking in some cash, I’ve done my part.” I’ve lived the better part of my 40 years of life like that. It’s not enough.

But what to do? Most of us don’t want to start thinking about the next election yet, but that’s what we have to do. We need to start looking and planning for 2018. But not the federal elections. The 2018 elections are going to be all about the states. As explained on the most recent episode of the excellent “Keepin’ It 1600” podcast:

Dan Pfeiffer: …We have really tough 2018 senate races but there’s a lot of really important 2018 governor races and we need to win those for two reasons. One, we’re gonna do the census and redistricting is gonna happen and we need those state legislatures and those governor races to ensure that it’s done in a fair way. And second, we need to do the exact opposite of what the Republicans did with voter suppression. We have to win governor races and expand voting. You know, 300,000 people did not vote, got turned away, in Wisconsin. The margin was I think 27,000. So…

Jon Favreau: And the early voting that was taken away in North Carolina and, you know, the drop in AA turnout there is partly attributable to that, right?

Dan Pfeiffer: Right. So we have to win these governor races and put early voting in place, more polling places, more same day registration, so more people can vote. And this is not quote-unquote rigging the system. Making voting easier is in line with democracy. It happens to benefit the Democrat party because we win when more people vote. But if we don’t win those governor races, the Republicans think … that it was a giant genius move to keep people from voting in places like Wisconsin and North Carolina and we have to fight that. So we have to win there. And our party is terrible at focusing on governor races.

This isn’t new information. Just a month ago, President Obama talked about the formation of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee and how this would be his post-presidential focus. Over the weekend, friend of the site Angelina Burnett wrote (in a moving piece that is worth 15 minutes of your time):

Soon, we will learn more about our President’s plans to resist this paroxysm of fascism. He has already announced an intent to focus on redistricting after he leaves office. I expect there to be an organizing component. Our structural disadvantage in the 2018 midterms is significant, and likely insurmountable. The focus will need to be state and local offices, capturing governors’ mansions and statehouses. The census is coming. If I choose to give my energy to this side of the fight, it will be our President’s lead I follow.

I’m with her. I want to take this shit inside of me. This sadness, this anger, this pure state of unrest. And I want to focus it in on 2018. Frankly, in coming to this decision, there is a large part of me that is ashamed. I just recently got a new job that is basically exactly the kind of gig I’ve been looking for for years, and I’m beyond excited to start it next January. But as I look at how important 2018 is, there is part of me that wishes I hadn’t just gotten this job or, now that I have it, that I was brave enough or non-self interested enough to not take it. I want to commit all of myself to the 2018 elections, but I’m simply not strong enough to take that step.

But you know what? The last stage of the Kübler-Ross model is acceptance. Fine, I will accept the fact that I am not strong enough or brave enough to commit myself whole cloth to this. But I will not accept my complacency. I will not accept this new world order. I will not accept the fear and loathing that millions of my brothers and sisters are already feeling. I will not accept that this cannot be changed. I don’t know what form this will take or how I will find my way to contribute, to be a cog in the machine of the 2018 state elections. But this is how I am going to find my way forward.

Seth is a Senior Editor and sometime critic. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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