Sheila Markin is a former Assistant US Attorney. She helps people to understand in plain English what is going on in US politics today. Subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss a post!
Something exciting is happening in our country. We are growing a new crop of congressional lawmakers who are eager to go to Washington, DC and actually help their constituents get what they need from government. I have been involved in the evolution of a number of these campaigns by new hopeful legislators-to-be as well as groups that support them. I have gone to events to support them. I have listened to what they have to say. I have met with groups like 314 Action to get more scientists into Congress as well as other groups that train and support new candidates. And I want you to know that a new breed of lawmaker is out there in the grassroots and these men and women are inspirational. You will love them!
On a Thursday night in a suburb of Chicago, a woman’s group I belong to, Invest to Elect, had a house party for four of these candidates running in Illinois to flip their districts from red to blue in the 2018 midterm elections. Sean Casten (IL-6), Brendan Kelly (IL-12), Betsy Dirksen Londrigan (IL-13), and Lauren Underwood (IL-14) spoke to our group about their backgrounds, why they chose to run for Congress, and their understanding about the needs of their constituents in the districts they hope to represent. All of them have stellar backgrounds including stints in business and law, nursing and other professions. They are articulate, progressive, energetic and hard working. I do not doubt for a minute that they will do the heavy lifting we need to get our democracy back on track.
They also understand how much work goes into running for office and the high bar they face when it comes to getting their message out. It takes money to get out your message. Their Republican opponents will be flush with money that Republican donors have been giving them- and will continue to give them. This is money flowing from the corrupt Tax Bill- the single piece of legislation passed by this Congress, designed to further enrich the Republican donor class. And it did that. But that does not mean these Republicans are the candidates who are destined to win.
If you can do it, support these Democrats who are inspiring candidates and who are working hard to become our lawmakers. Help them knock on doors to get out the vote, phone bank, drive folks to the polls on election day. Doing this work is a great way to feel better if you are, like me and so many other people I know, suffering from Trump fatigue!
Fortunately, we have some terrific potential legislators who can win in 2018- the analytics look good. We are seeing many more Democrats get out to vote in primaries and special elections. Shifts in energy and engagement are being tracked by Cook and other polling data sources. There continues to be an advantage for Democrats, but it is not a huge advantage. The Democratic advantage had been as high as 12 points, but more recently, has shrunk to a 3 point advantage. That is a generic poll and a very early indicator since the election is seven months away. It may not be totally accurate, but it is still a warning to us all.
We need to help good people get elected if we ever hope to get out of our Trump malaise.
Here is the way to break the fever- take action and work to help good candidates win up and down the ballot starting with dog catcher and going all the way up to the very top of the ballot. You know who I’m talking about. Yeah, him. It would be great to get him out but we also need a Congress that has the balls to act, stop enabling him and put a check on him. Even if Trump never gets impeached or indicted and removed from office and we have to live with 3 more years of upheaval, petty grievance, corruption, tweeting and wall to wall lawsuits from the DNC to porn stars, if we have a functioning House of Representatives, and (please please!) a Senate that is on our side, we will have clawed our way back to a Congress that stands up for us instead of the Republican donor class and the NRA. I think most of us would sleep better at night knowing that.
I hope you will get involved in whatever way you can. I feel hopeful about the future of our country in a way I have not felt since the 2016 election. Jump in and join this. Be part of the change we need. It’s deeply satisfying.