The Next Two Years Start Now

Dear fellow Democrats. I know that right now you are still in mourning. Many of you are just now starting to come out the shock that was last week’s elections. Others have been taking to the streets and getting your voice heard. I am not here to tell you how you should be handling these results. Everyone deals with loss in their own way, and as long as you are staying safe, and not engaging in violent behavior, then you do you.

You are allowed to grieve.

And that is why I hate to ask this of you, but I feel as if I must: It is also time to start working. America needs you more than ever right now to be prepared to work together to a degree never seen before in national politics. Anyone who thinks that the only thing left to do is sit back until 2018 and hope for a better congress will be in for a rude awakening when things don’t just magically get better on their own.

In January, the Republicans are set to take hold of the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch (Projected: House 240:195; Senate 51:48*), and gain a massive edge in taking over the Supreme Court which is still holding onto a vacant seat, but there are still important steps that we can take now to soften the blow.

1. Louisiana Senate Race
Why should I care?
Currently the Senate is sitting at 51-48. The missing seat belongs to Louisiana who has a special run off in December between its two top candidates. A win here for Democrats would not tie the house, but it would mean one less seat we need to win in what is looking like a tough 2018 for Democrats (There are 23 Democrat seats up for re-election, and only 8 Republican seats). If we want any hope of getting back a lead in two years, it starts now with Louisiana.

Who are the players?
Foster Campbell (D)
John Kennedy (R)

How to help?
Reach out and volunteer, or donate to Foster Campbell’s campaign. There are just over 3 weeks left until this election, and he needs every bit of help he can get in this uphill battle.

2. Supreme Court Vacancy
Why should I care?
The average tenure of a modern Supreme Court justice is 26 years and growing. Whomever is appointed will likely still be making decisions during the 2044 elections. This impacts past social progress as well as any future challenges to our freedoms. There is no other issue with more significant long term implications on the table at the moment.

Who are the players?
The US Senate
President Obama
President-elect Trump

How to help?
There are three very different scenarios that could play out over the next couple months. They vary in likelihood, but it is worth being aware of all of them.

I) The first, and probably least likely scenario is a recess appointment. There is a lot of debate on this method, and it would almost certainly be contested, but if the Senate decides to take a recess of at least 10 days (say from Dec 24th through January 3rd), the President is within his constitutional rights to make a recess appointment. This would be a temporary fix, but temporary in this sense means until the end of the NEXT session, which is better than nothing, and gives us time to regroup for a permanent option.

II) Another unlikely situation, although much less contestable, would be for Obama to work with the new Senate when they take office on January 3rd, 2017. This gives Obama just under three weeks to convince the new session of congress to appoint his nominee. If the previously discussed Louisiana race could turn out blue AND if the committee pushes it to a vote, only one Republican senator would be needed to confirm Obama’s nominee (with Biden’s tie breaking vote). This would go a long way to improve the animosity felt across America right now, and is also the most desirable outcome for rebuilding. To help with this, you should be contacting your Senators, ESPECIALLY if they are on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and push them to find a compromise. Republicans in Congress held our country hostage this past year, and we need them to show some good faith that they still want to represent all of America.

III) Unfortunately, the most likely of all scenarios is with a Trump nominated appointee. If this happens, we need to push our representatives (again, Senators) to do everything they can to prevent an extreme view on the court. I know that the Republicans refused to listen to reason and even hear our nominee, but they were also in power, a luxury that we do not have. The truth is that it is very unlikely that we could withstand two years of blocking a nominee, even if we wanted to be petty. However, we still can use the power we do have to fight for a fair and moderate appointee. Even with Louisiana, we would still need two republicans to vote against their party to prevent any votes on a nomination; This leaves us with only one option, the filibuster route, but it has to be used wisely and not at every juncture. This option should be withheld for unacceptable nominees to the Supreme Court. This means we need to be very vigilant against any potential appointments, and be vocal to our Senators that we expect them to take the same stand.

3. Democratic National Committee
Why should I care?
Democrats can argue all day about how much of an impact the actions of Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Donna Brazile had on the Primary and in turn the General Elections, but it won’t accomplish a damn thing. Regardless, we can all agree that it was not handled appropriately, and that trust for the party is at an all-time low. This needs to be addressed, and it needs to be done in a public way with the entire party feeling as if they are included.

Who are the players?
Keith Ellison (US Congressman MN-5)
Howard Dean (Chair from 2005-2009; 2004 Presidential Candidate)
Martin O’Malley (former Gov. of MD; 2016 Presidential Candidate)
Democratic leaders across America

How to help?
Get informed. Do your research on everyone who is running, and then look up who your state party leaders are and reach out to them. The DNC chair is elected by a few hundred Democratic leaders (and gender balanced counterparts) across America. State party leaders, chairs and vice chairs from dozens of committees you probably have never even heard of, and Democratic leaders in Congress, all will meet in a couple months to vote on the issue, and this can’t be something we let happen without discussion. Both Howard Dean and Martin O’Malley represent a more traditional approach to the Democratic party. Their plans will most likely include attempting to revive the party to its former state, but will do little to address the major concerns of those who felt disenfranchised by the past DNC committee. This is where Keith Ellison stands above the rest. Ellison is a devout progressive who not only cares about the traditional platforms of Democratic party, but also about making the changes needed to push us to where we need to be. He is innovative and has an increasingly rare ability to look at where things are headed (He was laughed at on TV in 2015 for trying to tell people to take Trump as a serious threat. He was also the second person in Congress to endorse Bernie Sanders). He is against the TPP, NAFTA, Citizen United, and is for Universal Healthcare, a higher minimum wage, and student loan reform. He is also the only currently proposed candidate who is from the Midwest, an area that the Democratic party drastically under performed in this past election and should probably look into bringing back into the fold.

4. Don’t Stop
Why should I care?
I think the fact that you are still reading this shows that you already do.

Who are the players?
You!

How to help?
Donate. Volunteer. Encourage discussion! We can’t sit back and hope the future fixes itself for us. We need to take control of it now. And I mean Right Now. Start by making a pledge for the next two years. You set the terms, but make it and stand by it. It could be something as simple as donating $10 a month to a candidate, cause, or party that you want to support. Or maybe, just maybe, you decide here and now you are going to stop waiting and take action. Commit to volunteering two hours a month to a local campaign or organization, because that is where it starts. Reach out to some local groups that are going to be severely impacted by this election and ask them how you can help. And if they don’t need you, ask someone else. I guarantee you there is a need for you out there right now, and I am asking you to seek it out. Encourage your friends to do the same. Be vocal about your action, and share your experiences. Tag your story with #twoyearplan and if you are comfortable, share it publicly so that we can be reminded that we are not alone, and that we are here to support each other.

We have the rare chance to influence the next generation of politics, and no one to blame but ourselves if we let that slip away.

(Cover Image: Michael Paul Olson; Lumnivore

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