Posted on April 19, 2017
Not at Republicans or Trump—okay, yes at Republicans and Trump—but right now I’m talking about being annoyed with the political left. And since I’ve been working with my 3rd grader lately on identifying the “Main Idea” of a story, let me go ahead and lay it out here for you. The Main Idea of this post is simple: Activism is not for sissies. No quitters allowed. Michael Jordan missed more than 9000 shots in his career, lost almost 300 games and missed tens of game winners. Losing is an essential part of winning.
Yes, Democrats lost the House race in Kansas. Yes, Jon Ossoff, a thirty-year old, upstart Democrat failed to win the Georgia 6th district outright, resulting in a runoff. Folks, we’re going to lose races. The question is how we lose races and whether we lose heart.
A GOP victory in the Kansas 4th was inevitable. But the kind of victory they won was not at all a given. James Thompson, a Democrat, got 45.7% of the vote. To understand why being the First Loser in the Kansas 4th is a good thing you need to know that Trump carried that district by 27% percent. The GOP only kept it with less than 5%. The last time a Democrat held the seat was 1992, before a not insignificant piece of the progressive electorate was born.
I won’t go so far as to say that it was inevitable that Ossoff would end up in a runoff with a GOP candidate in the Georgia 6th, but it was overwhelmingly likely.
And I’m afraid math is an essential skill of the activist. I know you like knitting pink pussy hats and making sarcastic and witty protest signs, but math is part of this gig too. I lived in Georgia for seven years. For those of you who ain’t from around there, it is a deeply conservative state. Newt Gingrich represented the GA 6th. Newt Effing Gingrich.
Ossoff won a majority of the votes. He took 48% to Republican, Karen Handel’s 20%. Now, before you go off thinking that the runoff will be a landslide, you need to know that about 49% of the total vote went to Republican candidates. There was just a very large field. But again, I remind you, this is a Republican stronghold. In any other year, in any other climate, Democrats would be popping champagne at these numbers.
Because elections are a numbers game. Extensive gerrymandering has made the numbers game more like Calculus than pre-Algebra.
That means that the best chance to flip districts is yet to come. The truly flippable districts are those where the incumbent won by 5 points or less. We can, with a good ground game, flip those districts. But we can’t lose heart. We can’t quit donating. We can’t quit canvassing and otherwise showing up. And we absolutely have to ignore headlines like Politico’s coverage of last night’s race.
There are no sissies in activism. Put on your big, gender-inclusive, panties and get back to work.