Let’s flash back to 2008 and the glorious afterglow of the night when President Obama was elected. For a short period of time, Democrats had control of the House and Senate and things looked good. Too many people thought that the days of the radical right were finally over and finally, we were on the path to join the other more enlightened countries on Planet Earth. For the first time, we had elected a non-white person as President, which seemed to be proof positive to many that we had finally moved beyond the spectre of segregation, fire hoses and police dogs. Perhaps Dr. King’s dream had finally come true, the Affordable Care Act had been passed, and for awhile – it seemed as if the sky was the limit.
Then we sat on our hands and thought that by casting a winning ballot in 2008, our job was done. Now we could go back to fighting each other over who was more liberal, who was more ideologically pure, and making fun of the South. Or so we thought.
Along came 2010 and with it, a wave of truly pissed off conservative voters who were still fuming from 2 years before. While we sat around and argued over minor differences or filled out useless petitions on a variety of websites, they organized. Even as they were reeling from defeats in 2006 and 2008, the Koch Brothers and the GOP establishment were working at the local and state levels to establish control through gerrymandering and voter suppression, a tactic that continues through today. What were we doing? Basking in that afterglow and little else.
I know this is going to strike a nerve with a lot of people, but simply showing up to vote every couple of years and thinking that’s all there is to do is what the GOP is counting on you to believe. You can write all the nice little blogs and share all the clever memes you want but that is no substitute for real action. While we celebrated the recent Supreme Court decisions in favor of marriage equality, a number of states rammed through some of the harshest anti-choice laws in years, while others are pushing legislation to suppress the votes of minorities who tend to vote Democratic. In some cases, these are happening in the same states at the same time – and thanks to Republican control in these states, it’s likely that many of these attacks on our rights will become law.
Sadly, there’s way too many people who think that the next important election is in 2014 or even 2016. The fact of the matter is that EVERY election matters. Whether it is a city election or a state assembly member, every single one counts. Are you upset about the gerrymandering of Congressional districts or the stripping of state funding for women’s healthcare? Guess where that is decided? It’s at the local and state level, not the US House or Senate. This is the time to get more involved than every before, not sit back and rest on the laurels of 2012. Just because you aren’t fighting doesn’t mean they stopped. In fact, that’s what they’re counting on and all too often, it works.
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