Andrew Gillum and Stacey Abrams may not have won their elections, but in trying to get them elected hundreds of thousands of people were energized and set in motion. Movement organizers now need to give them something to do. At the same time, progressives and radicals need to agree on an agenda for the new Democratic majority in the House. That task cannot be left to the politicians. An anti-racist, pro-working class, intersectional feminist analysis has to inform that agenda.
Moreover, key ballot initiatives were won yesterday, most significantly, Proposition 4 in Florida which enfranchised 1.5 million formerly incarcerated citizens with felony convictions, disproportionately poor people and people of color. This is a potential game changer for future elections.
Even though some of the more high profile progressives running for office did not win, there is much work to do to build on the momentum of their campaigns, which is what we should do after any election if we have a “vote PLUS” strategy: Activate databases to invite volunteers into a larger political conversations; plan marches, vigils, direct action tactics that keep up the pressure on both Democrats and Republicans around key issues; re-activate a hearts and minds media campaign to win, defeat or neutralize the underlying racist, elitist, misogynist and xenophobic ideas that feed Trumpism’s reactionary, white nationalist agenda.
The first phase of struggle is the battle of ideas—legislation and elections are metrics that tell us whether we are winning or losing.
Barbara Ransby is Distinguished Professor of African American Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago