The ongoing fight to save democracy and block fascism
It could have been much worse.
While the 2022 midterms resulted in the MAGA Republicans taking control of the House of Representatives, starting off what will surely be a two year ongoing disaster, the outcome could have been much worse. There's a widely seen phenomenon in US politics called the midterm effect: in the midterm election two years into a Presidential term, there's almost always a strong backlash in the House and the Senate favoring the opposing party. Mainstream media outlets are owned by giant corporate conglomerates, and whether through the editorial policy of ownership, or the short-sightedness - or complicity - of staff, most uncritically accepted the Republican narrative that a red wave was coming. For months before the election, Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg, proclaimed that the Republicans were highlighting polls from Republican-aligned polling firms, allowing them to spin the numbers, and mainstream media was falling for it, without investigating more closely. It turned out to be, as Rosenberg claimed, a very competitive election, even with the Republicans taking advantage of massive gerrymandering and voter suppression. Democrats held onto control of the Senate, and instead of the much-hyped red wave of 30 - 40 Republican victories in the House, they took control by the narrowest of margins, leaving the extremist Republican MAGAs captive to the demands and whims of their own even more extremist insurrectionist fringe. However, Democrats were often victorious by razor-thin majorities, even when running against unqualified incompetents and neo-fascists. Many Americans didn't even bother to vote, and many were in fact quite supportive of voting for neo-fascists.
Conditions have shifted - revealing Republicans for who they really are
Over the last few years, standards for political behavior, language and policy have fallen so far. We get accustomed to gradual changes. It's sometimes called the movement of the Overton Window, the domain of what is considered possible or acceptable. Imagine if our earlier selves, five or ten or fifteen years ago, could have abrupt glimpses into our present reality. They would be shocked and horrified. Remember Democratic Senator Al Franken being pushed out of office - by Democrats - because he participated in a very mildly sexist joke. One benefit of the ongoing horror show is the the true nature of Republicans have been revealed. They're not "conservative," they're reactionary. Or tools of oligarchs. Or fascists. Only a few years ago, it was considered overly radical to identify them as fascists. The masks are off now, aren't they? While Republicans have been horrible for decades, they used to be more discreet about it. So-called moderate Republicans have been getting pushed out since the Tea Party movement. Every Republican that remains have bent the knee to MAGA extremism - they are all complicit in Trump's attempted coup and insurrection.
Last year's call to action
In spring and summer of 2022, I thought it would be helpful to write a short essay to serve as a call to action, encouraging people to get involved with the midterm campaigns, and providing clear steps to help people make targeted donations, and of course, texting, phoning and knocking on doors for candidates. I didn't get much response. One lesson I take from this is I have a very small megaphone, and limited capacity to reach people. Another is that it's difficult to get people who are not activists by nature and inclination already to become politically active. I leave that essay below, as part of the archive.
Walking the talk
Circulating the essay was a matter of due diligence. After that, I gave up efforts to influence people, and volunteered directly myself, taking weekend bus trips to knock on doors in Pennsylvania swing districts, and then spending much of September and October in knocking on doors in Ulster County in the Hudson Valley, and making calls into PA. I contributed in modest ways along with many other volunteers.
What next? The struggle continues.
The climate crisis continues to worsen. It's long been known that Exxon scientists knew about climate change impacts since the 1970s, hid the info, and put all their effort into pretending nothing was wrong so they could continue making massive profits. A recent report showed that Exxon scientists were extremely accurate in their predictions, matching those of independent climatologists.
The only way to enact widespread and intense emergency responses - which might still avoid the worst case scenarios - would be for Democrats to win the Presidency, the House and the Senate in 2024. The campaign for the 2024 election is already underway. The forces of fascism, allied with Christian Nationalists, as well as domestic and foreign corporate interests and oligarchs, may yet win out. We can't afford to give up.
If you are already involved, thank you. If not, please reconsider.
Thank you for your efforts. There will certainly be special elections prior to this and next November, to replace vacancies in elected offices, and each will present an opportunity to organize.
If you heard that the future of our country was being decided in the 2022 midterms, and did not get involved in any way, I ask to you reconsider. Democracy vs. fascism gets a rematch in 2024. Even if you don't volunteer directly, you can donate to important causes - like the third party progressive organizing groups who will spend that money more effectively than large, corporate, official Democratic party fundraising efforts.
Even New York State is no longer safely blue
Here in New York State, formerly considered safely blue, the NYS Democratic Party completely failed to run effective campaigns, leading to the loss of 4 Congressional seats, and the frighteningly narrow victory of Governor Kathy Hochul over the extremist MAGA insurrectionist Lee Zeldin. Both moderate and progressive Democrats blame the loathsome Jay Jacobs, the NYS Democratic Party Chair, who is certainly incompetent but is very likely complicit with Republicans.
That failure to campaign contributed to low turnout of Democratic voters. Although NYS has twice as many registered Democrats than Republicans, many registered NYS Democrats simply didn't bother to vote. Many fell for Republican lies and fearmongering that went unanswered by the NYS Democrats.
When the disgraced former Governor Andrew Cuomo, now revealed as a micromanaging tyrant, stepped down, his handpicked Lieutenant Governor Hochul emerged from complete obscurity. She has no mandate, failed to campaign vigorously for herself, is pushing the nomination of an extreme conservative as the new chief judge of the State's highest court, and is protective of Jacobs. She barely won reelection for a full four year term due to the effort of progressive activists around the state - who have been given much cause to hate her. I hope that a strong candidate emerges to challenge her in a primary in 2026.
What do we do now?
So what's next? Follow progressive groups of your choice - such as Indivisible or Swing Left, or the Working Families Party - for campaigns as they come up. There is a growing movement to push for the replacement of Jacobs.
Try to maintain your own mental and physical health, and look for ways to help out and improve the world, even in the most modest ways. Good luck to us all in 2023
From the 2022 Archive
Volunteer for the 2022 Midterm Election
Voter outreach for the November 2022 midterm elections is underway! Even if you've never been politically active, your participation now is crucial. Democracy in the US is in extreme danger of a takeover by radical Republican extremists. As the January 6 Committee hearings reveal, the attack on the Capitol was the tip of the iceberg, and the insurrection is still underway. Democrats must hold on to Congress and win control of the Senate to prevent MAGA insurrectionists from trying to overturn the rule of law. Usually, fewer people vote in midterms than in Presidential election years. This year, massive voter outreach is needed to ensure pro-democracy candidates win.
We have the momentum: polling after the leaked Roe v. Wade decision now has Democrats leading Republicans 47% to 42%, reversing the previous Republican lead. But it's still an emergency. This article will outline how you can get involved in your own way, step by step.
YOUR PARTICIPATION IS CRUCIAL
Even if you've never been politically active, it's time now for you to get involved. Here are options:
Write letters and postcards
Send texts and make phone calls
Speak with voters in person
Spread the word to family and friends
Get groups in your community involved
Donate: Do’s and Don’ts for Small Donors
Donating requires nothing more than sending money. For many people, it may be the easiest thing to do. If you can afford to, start here. Target your donations so they are most effective.
Focus on the eight states that are key this year: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin. In many of these states, there are multiple offices up for election.
Don’t give based on misleading fundraising “deadlines” or other “last chance” appeals.
Don’t give to most major super PACs or Democratic Party committees - they are often already well funded, are not transparent, and often campaign in obsolete ways.
Don’t give to incumbents in solidly blue districts.
Don’t give money to unrealistic, long shot campaigns.
Letter and Postcard Writing
You can work from home, and don't have to talk to anyone. Only minimal computer skills are needed. Campaigns let you target Democratic or likely Democratic registered voters who are infrequent voters in swing states.
Letter writing has been proven to increase actual voting by a small but significant percentage, which is important since many elections are decided by the narrowest of margins.
Vote Forward plans to send 10 million letters to voters this election. Pick a campaign, download and print a template letter, add a handwritten, personal message, and stockpile finished letters for mailing in late October.
Text or Phone Voters
Both texting and phoning can be done from home. An easy online training will direct volunteers on use of scripts and pre-written replies. With texting, you'll send large numbers of texts quickly, and respond to those who text back.
Find campaigns or groups that you would like to assist, and sign up to make phone calls, send texts, or both.
You can search among a wide range of election volunteer opportunities at Mobilize.
If you decide you like texting, sign up for Movement Labs. They have texting campaigns you can jump into nearly every day. As we get closer to the election, other campaigns will have more frequent texting.
Meet Voters in Person
Knocking on doors and/or visiting potential voters in their neighborhoods is very important for get out the vote operations.
Enter your zip code at SwingLeft to find important races near you and connect to groups working on that race.
Here are New York City groups doing in person postcard and letter writing events, as well as setting up trips to crucial neighborhoods in Philadelphia and its suburbs:
Water for Grassroots collaborates closely with grassroots groups in Georgia, Florida, and Pennsylvania.
Search among a wide range of election volunteer opportunities - in person, online, all across the country - at Mobilize
SPREAD THE WORD: Get more people involved
Are you active with a civic group, progressive cause, political club or faith community? Contact them about the upcoming election.
You can't get involved? Think of three other people who might be interested - and share this with them.
This is an emergency.
Here are some reminders
about the big picture.
If you ever wondered what you would have done in Germany in the 1930s, witnessing Hitler’s rise to power, this is your chance to find out.
Remember that Trump colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election, as documented by the Mueller Report, and in a three volume series of NYT bestselling books by Seth Abramson, and in countless other sources.
Some of his supporters want to impose a Christian right-wing, Taliban-like theocracy in the US. The movement has the support of Vladimir Putin and his allies like Saudi Arabia and Hungary, as well as billionaire oligarchs including Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News, and Elon Musk.
MAGA has built on the extensive network of media and PR operations the right has been building since the 1971 Powell Memo. Actually, authoritarian takeover of the US government has been a goal of far right financial magnates since they tried to overthrow President Roosevelt and replace him with a dictator in retaliation for the New Deal in the 1930s.
Given the midterm effect - the traditional tendency for the President's party to lose seats in the midterm election cycle - it's very possible that MAGA extremists could take control of both Senate and Congress.
Republican lawmakers have introduced hundreds of bills in many states to restrict voting. Many MAGA candidates are open insurrectionists, like the candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania who promised to throw out legal election results.
The Supreme Court's majority of right wing extremists are poised to overthrow Roe v Wade. Alito's opinion approvingly cites an English judge from the 1600s who had women burned for witchcraft. A Republican-controlled Congress and Senate will pass a national ban on abortion. Without a Democratic President to veto it, abortion could be federally prosecuted as murder in all 50 states. Other rights could be easily dismantled.
This year's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the premier gathering in Republican politics, was held in Hungary and featured their authoritarian dictator Viktor Orban, who said all right wing movements should have their own media outlets and coordinate internationally.
The announced Republican plan is quite horrific, proposing tax hikes for middle class Americans and the end of Social Security and Medicare.
A recent Democratic House bill to clamp down on price gouging by oil and gas companies in response to the recent price hikes narrowly passed in the House, with 4 Democratic representatives and all Republicans voting against it. It was not expected to be introduced in the Senate. The prices hikes are not directly connected to the price of oil, and major oil companies are making record profits.
Democrats have proposed gun safety legislation many times in the wake of recent mass shootings, and Republicans continue to block their passage.
Republicans are fossil fuel supporters and climate arsonists. They would douse in gasoline and set on fire any efforts to respond to the climate crisis. For all environmentalists and climate activists, the single most important priority is ensuring that Democrats win the House and Senate this year.
Work on all other environmental and climate campaigns - in fact, on all other good government and progressive issues - should be put on the back burner until after the election.
It's essential to raise the alarm, and say clearly that MAGA is fascism.
Fascist governments are those in which most of the country's power is held by one ruler or party. They are right wing and usually totalitarian and authoritarian one-party states. Under fascism, the economy and other parts of society are heavily and closely controlled by the government.
Fascism rejects democratic principles and representative government in favor of martial law, is intolerant of dissent, and is enthusiastic about violent repression of designated out-groups.
Authoritarian government reduces the rule of law, separation of powers, and democratic voting in favor of strong centralized power. Its most complete form is totalitarianism, which prohibits any opposition, is extremely repressive, and attempts to completely control citizens with a state ideology.
A brighter future is possible. It starts with you.
This is a traumatic and unprecedented time in American history. It is certainly hard to witness all this.
Now that you know, what will you do?
"The only thing required for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - President John F. Kennedy quoting a popular saying
"Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." - JFK
You have every right to feel despair, fear and rage at the state of the country. The best remedy is taking action. Join us in doing our best to bring about a brighter future. Re-read this article, find a place where you can get started. Keep on going, and bring others along.