Do you ever wonder what you would have done had you lived during dire periods in history? What was the best way to fight fascism in 20th century Europe? How did Americans in the 1960s show solidarity with those living under legalized racial segregation in our own country? Fortunately, there are lessons to learn from other countries where national struggles were waged to take back control from undemocratically installed demagogues. One of the most important lessons is that winning back power requires sending as much support as possible to those on the front lines of the struggle for liberation.
I’ve spent the past few months working with the team at Democracy in Color looking at election and Census data through the lens of historical revolutionary struggles in order to identify pertinent patterns that can guide the efforts of The Resistance. Our findings are distilled in the report being released today, Return of the Majority: Roadmap to Taking Back Our Country. What we found is that there are 17 states and 13 congressional districts that will determine the future political control of this country. The quickest path to power involves identifying and strengthening the organizations, activists, and leaders working to build progressive political power in those states and districts.
The United States is currently divided into three broad categories of states—13 states which strongly rejected the anti-Mexican, anti-Muslim candidacy of the 2016 Republican nominee (using the language of revolutionary struggles throughout history, I call these states Liberated Zones); 20 mainly smaller states that strongly supported the Republican candidate (those states are what I call Occupied Areas), and 17 states, home to 64 million voters in 2016, where the results were closely contested, and the margin of difference was in the single digits. Democrats won 7 of those states and lost 10. Outside of those 17 states, there are also 13 front line congressional districts where the margin was close, and the Republican incumbent could be ousted with a concerted effort over the next 19 months.
The upside potential in the front line states is enormous. In 9 of the 10 front line states, the number of potential progressive voters far exceeds the relatively narrow margin by which the 2016 election was decided in that state. The following chart tells the tale:
In order to turn that population potential into political power, we must identify and fortify the community-based organizations and leaders doing the difficult day-to-day work of organizing, registering, and mobilizing voters. Often overlooked, these front line freedom fighters represent the country’s best hope for taking back our country. Although they don’t get the headlines, resources, and attention they deserve, they are there in the trenches, holding down the fort, eager for assistance and support from allies across the country.