Dec. 29, 2017

TITLE: The mountain before us

We libs find ourselves at the base of a mountain looking resolutely upward toward the first summit, Nov. 6, 2018, and the peak, Nov. 3, 2020, determined that the coming years will be better for our nation than the slow motion avalanche it has just experienced.

And for the Southpaw – the person who either chooses to live amongst people with divergent political views, or refuses to be quieted in their own home – the potential for making a real difference is even greater than for the average leftie.

I’m writing this while visiting family in Northern California for the holidays. Up in this area having leftie convictions is easy-peasy. You can hardly swing a cat without hitting one of us (note: please do not swing cats at lefties, or righties for that matter). To be completely frank, up here the opinion of just one more Nor Cal progressive doesn’t amount to a hill of, er, cats, at least not electorally. There are few minds to change because everyone’s pretty much already got their head screwed on straight.

But in an increasing number of conservative strongholds across the country the tables are turning dramatically; so much so that even a few changed minds can being about immense change.

And the minds they are a changin’.

Take Virginia, where a race for the House of Delegates has Democratic candidate Shelly Simonds currently tied with Republican incumbent David Yancey in the state’s 94th District. If Simonds ultimately wins, Republicans will lose a majority they’ve held for 17 years. Just one mind changed; one vote.

Polling in current and upcoming races across the nation are showing historically unheard of advantages for Democrats. But even with those advantages, many of the coming battles are going to be uphill at best, mountaineering at worst. We’ll have to do far better than just 50% plus 1 because of rigged voter ID laws, surgically-pared rolls, gerrymandered districts, and every other rotten trick you can imagine not seen since Jim Crow -- all designed to ensure GOP wins with turnouts as lopsided as 60-40 in Dems’ favor.

But exciting things ARE happening. Women in particular -- who are mad as hell and refusing to take it anymore -- are running for office at every level of government. Since the 2016 election more than 20,000 women have contacted Emily’s List alone. And disenchanted Republicans have been removing the R party affiliation on voter rolls in numbers not seen since Watergate.

And it gets better: According to Michigan Live, an effort to create an independent redistricting commission in Michigan has turned in more than enough signatures required to get the issue on the Nov. 2018 ballot “which would shift the redistricting decision-making process -- currently in the hands of the state legislature -- to a 13-member commission, which would consist of five independent members, four self-declared Democrats and four self-declared Republicans… Elected officials, candidates, lobbyists and political consultants or staffers -- as well as family members of politicians or other insiders -- would be barred from participating within six years of their politically-affiliated position.”

Then there’s the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (ndrc.bsd.net). President Obama and former Attorney General Eric Holder characterize the work being done by the NDRC as perhaps the most important political movement taking place in the country today. So much so that Obama is putting the full weight of his immensely effective Organizing for Action (OFA) movement behind the effort.

Obama wrote, “OFA volunteers and supporters will provide the grassroots organizing capacity and mobilization that we’ll need to win state-level elections and move other initiatives forward ahead of the 2021 redistricting process, making sure that states are in the best position possible to draw fair maps.”

Let’s not fool ourselves, libs. An immense amount of work will be required to put a check on a GOP that has either a) deluded itself into thinking nothing it is doing is wrong or b) rationalizes that its cause is so inherently -- perhaps even divinely -- virtuous that any means used to achieve those ends are justified.

And, being honest, much of what happened in the 2016 election falls on us – even if unfairly. Many of us were so confident that Hillary was going to win (heck, even TRUMP has said he thought Hillary was going to win) we didn’t turn out in numbers sufficient enough to overcome rigged voting systems, gerrymandered districts -- and more than a little help from Trump’s Russian friends.

It’s not going to be easy but that mountain isn’t going to climb itself, so let’s lace up our boots and get on that trail.

That’s all he wrote. See you next year!

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Multiple award-winning author Charles Carr has written thousands of columns and articles for many publications. He is also an noted playwright whose current show, "It's a Wonderful Christmas Carol," just finished a successful run at the California Center for the Arts.