First, because it’s a long game, the other side has a big head start, and we’ve been fighting this battle the wrong way for too long. The sooner we fight it the right way, the better. But as I wrap up this book in April 2023, this moment in time offers unique opportunities to get started.
For the first time in a long time, people are waking up to the threat democracy faces. Many are no longer under the illusion that democracy simply sustains itself. That broader awareness—that needed realism—is critical. Also at this moment, momentum is building around the very type of focus and infrastructure it will take to protect democracy. Stacey Abrams and others showed the way with what they built in Georgia. Run for Something is showing the way by recruiting candidates everywhere, and Tech for Campaigns is showing the way by helping so many of them. We saw that new focus, energy and infrastructure fuel those secretary of state and statehouse victories in 2022. We see it in Rachel Coyle’s advocacy work at the Ohio Statehouse, in 1,100 people joining Blue Ohio in only five months, and in Kim Allen’s Power the Vote. We see it during NFL games, on doctor’s badges across the country, and in numerous ways other companies are using their footprints to lift democracy.
So we’re not starting from scratch. Thanks to some visionary and persistent leaders, and a surging army of democracy champions, there’s long-needed infrastructure growing from the bottom up. It’s working, and it’s gaining momentum. And it’s growing at the exact moment where we can win the messaging battle we’ve lost for too long.
Think about it… in the next few years, the image of the GOP will be of Marjorie Taylor Greene making a mess of the US House. All extremism, all the time. As with too many statehouses, no good public outcomes—not even attempts to address them. She and her cohort of extremists will look just like those losing secretary of state candidates looked in Arizona and Nevada, but under a far brighter spotlight and with the whole nation watching. Then throw in Trump and other extremists battling it out in the presidential primary. Over who can most ruthlessly ban abortion. Who can ban the most books. Who can veer the furthest from mainstream American values. Despite Mitch McConnell’s and others’ best efforts, their toxic extremism will be out in the open.
All the while, the disastrous public outcomes of governance with no accountability continue to play out before our eyes. Brett Favre’s volleyball courts. Derailments and chemical spills due to lack of regulation. Crumbling schools and towns. A GOP that, unlike every American, risks economic meltdown because it refuses to pay bills its own policies racked up.
The ads write themselves. If we go on offense in our messaging, we can fully expose those attacking democracy for what they are: extremists delivering terrible results for the American people wherever and whenever they are in charge. While we make clear that those fighting for democracy represent the mainstream values of everyday Americans and are fighting for the outcomes they care about. So that growing infrastructure, and that sharp contrast, offer an enormous and immediate opportunity.
BUT… we squander that opportunity if we repeat what we’ve done for a generation. If we only harness that advantage and momentum in a few swing states to win the House, Senate, and presidency in 2024. As if that’s the entire battle. Instead, we must take advantage of the moment by going all in for the broader and longer battle for democracy we now understand that we’re in.
What does that look like? It means that our ’23 and ’24 pro-democracy work is not simply about the presidency and a few federal offices. It’s bigger, deeper,