We dress like students, we dress like housewives

16 11 2016

Two years, people, two years: 2018.

Yes, the presidential term is four years, but a) all of the House and a third of the Senate is up for a vote every two years; and b) there are state elections, including governorships, which are up for grabs in two years.

I live in a blue district in a blue city in a blue state, which has meant that in the past few years I haven’t paid much attention to off-year elections: I could do nothing, and my folks got (re-)elected.

Except, I don’t always know that these people were “my folks”. I mean, they were Democrats, but were they good at their jobs? Were they attentive to their constituents? Were they concerned with larger issues? Were they actually doing anything worthwhile, or just collecting a check.

So, what to do? Find out something about my city council member, state assemblyperson and state senator. Oh, and since I finally joined a party in this closed-primary state, I’ll have no excuse for not paying attention to the primaries as well.

And if there are no (good) primary challengers or if the candidates are alllllll right, then I can turn my attention to upstate candidates in need of help. The New York State Senate is controlled by Republicans, so if my own senate-candidate doesn’t need the help, then I’ll have to figure out some way to help someone who does.

That extends beyond just my state: if there are state or Congressional candidates in other states who could use a boost, then DO IT. For example, Louisiana Democrat Foster Campbell is in a run-off for a House seat against Republican John Kennedy. Yes, Louisiana is a red state, but here’s a man who’s got a shot as a blue. The Republicans are taking this seriously; so, too should Democrats and everyone who’s looking to advance any kind of non-insane/progressive/liberal/left agenda.

I’m broke, so, alas, I can’t do much. But if you can contribute: DO IT. Do what you can.

One more thing (for now): good people need to be recruited to run. I have no idea how to do this, but here’s the story of 26-year-old waitress and labor organizer Moira Walsh, who just won a seat in the Rhode Island General Assembly:

If you go to your boss and your legislator and ask for a raise and they say no, where do you go from there? That was the point at which I decided that if these people weren’t going to represent me, or even pretend to care that we were struggling, then they couldn’t really call themselves my representative, could they? That was when I started the process of running because I was tired of being told that they would tend to me later.

Walsh pretty much self-recruited, but note that she was prepared to do so via her participation in the labor movement, as well as the work itself:

I don’t consider myself a politician. I am just a waitress who happened to get pissed off enough to take a crack at it.


I felt like I had accidentally acquired all of these skills through waitressing that were setting me up for success in terms of the political world: being able to take some really awful comments with a smile on my face, remembering people’s names at the drop of a hat, walking six to 10 miles in a shift.

I spoke to a colleague earlier today about what to do with this terrible moment, and told her we had to grind it out: “Politics is the hard boring of small holes.” (That didn’t sound quite right to me, so I double-checked; the correct phrase, from Max Weber, is Politics is a strong and slow boring of hard boards.)

That’s what Moira Walsh, at age 26 did: she bored that hard board.

If you can be a Moira Walsh, do it. If you can’t support your local Moira: give money, knock on doors, call voters, register non-voters, design literature, drop literature, show up, do what you can.

One by one, bit by bit, we grind forward.