Years ago, House Speaker Tip O’Neill asserted “All politics is local.” The GOP listened and followed up; Democrats didn’t. As a result, in November, Republicans not only swept control of the United States Congress and Executive; it garnered control of the vast majority of Governorships and state legislatures.
This isn’t an accident. The GOP and its supporters, significantly the Koch brothers, have been planning this across the board coup for years. Fifty years ago the Koch Brothers saw that the millions of dollars they invested in congressional races was getting them and their agenda nowhere. They realized that their money would have far more effect if it were spent on statehouse races. They followed up. And with patience, their minions took over a majority of state governments, giving the GOP control over congressional and state legislative redistricting. That enabled the disaster of the 2016 national election. The Democratic Party must learn from the Koch Brothers’ success and begin to focus on the long term. We have to realize that local politics is vitally important; that control of state government is the key to effectively promoting a liberal agenda across the nation.
An organization has been formed to do just that. State Innovation Exchange plans to take the fight for progressive values to the states. SIX’s goal is to enable Democratic legislators to take back power in the states.
Here’s a NPR clip in which Nick Rathode, Executive Director of SIX, explains its mission.
Meanwhile, here in Sussex County, the Republican Party appears to be heads over heals in love with President-elect Donald Trump. All three legislators who represent us in Trenton solidly support Trump. Assemblyman Parker Space (and his wife Jill) and Assemblywoman Gail Phoebus are passionate Trump fans.
In the next four years there’s not much we can do to directly counter Trump and his policies (if he actually has any). However, we can undermine him and his agenda by working to take down his supporters. The 2017 election in New Jersey, which is limited to state and local candidates, is likely to have a low turnout. If everyone in Sussex County who can’t stand the President–elect, and means it, turns out next year to vote against elected officials who support him, Phoebus and Space can be defeated. That would send a message!
Looking down the road –
The Koch Brothers strategy worked well for the GOP next door in Pennsylvania. Trump cashed in and garnered a surprise victory there -- one that helped put him over the top. Democrats in our neighbor state will need help in 2018. If we want to take back Washington, we have to take back the states, and helping candidates for the state legislature in Pennsylvania would be a step in that direction.