|2020 will be a deciding year for our country.
For three years, we’ve watched as decades of progress was reversed–clean air and water rules, endangered species protection, anti-violence laws, workers’ rights, net neutrality, the fight against global warming, etc.
The 2020 election will be the most important–and the most rancorous–in recent history.
So I am suggesting some New Year’s resolutions for progressives.
The first: Don’t tune out.
It’s easy to say that both sides are at fault.
Or that nothing you can do will make a difference.
That’s surrender. The more people who do nothing, the greater the danger to our freedoms.
Don’t give up on making the world a better place. Be the role model you want for your children and grandchildren.
The second: Fact check everything–and speak out.
Very few of us are going to believe that a candidate is trafficking children from a pizza place. Nor will we take serious a Fox news report that the FDA is banning popcorn, frozen pizza, and canned frosting.
Yet, during the 2016 elections fake news articles were shared on social media at a higher rate than more reputable ones.
Most people know that The Onion posts satire, not news. But after the 2016 elections CBS News listed an additional 20 sites specializing in not-true items including some with such great sounding names as Civic Tribune, Empire Herald, National Report, abc news (a look-alike) and Christian Times.
And articles claiming to be from the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal were found to be fakes. Check companies’ websites to be sure.
Three: Don’t go it alone.
Your emails or letters-to-the-editor won’t be enough this year.
Winning even a race for state legislature can require contacting 12,000 voters–and advisors like Wellstone recommend contacting each five to seven times.
Find a team with a clear message that you agree with. The best ones will also have a hard-working candidate, a plan for multiple voter contacts, and a dedication to saving data for the last weeks’ Get-Out-the-Vote drive.
Plan on working with others to visit voters door-to-door and phone them.
And if you can’t do either–help locate potential donors. (Envelope stuffing is out-dated. Too many people don’t open them. Postcards put it all right out there for voters.)
Four: Consider all your options.
Support a legislative candidate if you can.
Right now Republicans control more than two-thirds of the Idaho legislature–enough to overcome a gubernatorial veto if they stick together. And some important issues are sure to come up again–the right to a doable initiative, more restrictions on Medicaid expansion, and attempts to do away with our bipartisan redistricting commission.
And if the initiatives to increase the minimum wage, legalize medical marijuana, or raise taxes for education pass, the legislature may face more issues that the people support and most Republican legislators do not.
Plus, working with a legislative team, you get to know the candidate and get a good overview of what a campaign involves.
If there isn’t a local candidate you can support, you have choices–volunteer for a legislative candidate in a neighboring district, volunteer for a candidate for the U.S. House or Senate, or help a presidential campaign (possibly working in other states.)
Five: Start as soon as possible.
Idaho’s presidential primary is March 10. And the filing deadline for Idaho congressional and legislative candidates ends March 13.
Right now many activists will be working on initiative drives that must end by April 30. Others are recruiting candidates, listening to voters’ major issues, and registering new voters.
Work for the Idaho–and nation–you want in 2021!
There’s a major election coming up this November and most of us know less about it than the presidential primaries next March.
(Actually, there’s an election even closer–August 27–but it seems a sleeper. The recall elections for Middleton School District trustees Tim Winkle and Aliesha McConkle are the only contests I know of in Canyon County.)
But in November, 2C voters will be deciding holders of about 40 different offices in 15 different political entities. This record-breaking number is brought to you courtesy of a legislature that moved school board elections from March to the November Tuesday when city council elections are traditionally held. (Legislators are banking on this improving voter turnout.)
And, in contrast with our even-year elections, when campaigns stretch from May to November, we won’t know who is running until eight weeks before the election.
Candidate filing runs from Monday, Aug. 26, to Friday, Sept. 6.
So, there’s still time to become a candidate.
Admittedly, there are good reasons not to run. These offices take time–the papers to review before a meeting typically run three-inches high,. You get a lot of hassle–you really can’t please people all the time. And the pay ranges from next-to-nothing to nothing.
Still, some offices, like an open seat on the Nampa City Council, will attract several candidates–two have already announced–while seats in small towns and school districts may get none.
Why should anyone run?
One, we owe it to our world not to let a nut job just walk into a position. A lot of filings happen the final Friday afternoon when concerned voters realize that no one they trust has filed.
Two, we may have ideas about changes that should be made.
That’s super. It means we’ve paid enough attention to issues to have a campaign message. Win or lose, running for election will get our ideas before the public.
Three, it’s something good citizens can do to make a positive difference and give something back to the community.
And four, it’s an opportunity to gain experience working with people, planning projects, and making tough decisions. City councils and school boards are mini-legislatures; one can gain insight into the complexities of law and what it takes to make meaningful change.
And the positions are non-partisan, perfect for independents who feel they should be doing more than darkening small ovals a few times a year.
Still not dreaming of running?
Then help someone else.
You will make a difference; enthusiastic volunteers always do.
Of course, you have to do something–and stuffing envelopes and licking stamps hardly happens anymore. Postcards are more likely to be read–and printing houses get cheaper postage.
Volunteers contact voters directly.
There are a lot of decisions to be made, however, before phone calling or door knocking starts.
Who do you contact? The County Elections office can give candidates lists of eligible voters. But do you want very eligible voter–that’ll take lots of volunteers — or only those who voted in the last election for the same office? (That can backfire if you’re running against an incumbent; he or she got the majority last time.)
What issues do you mention? What handouts do you use? What do you do if no one is home?
How do you keep track of who likes the candidate and who doesn’t?
Do you need to file a Sunshine report? How much is the candidate allowed to contribute?
How do you register voters who’ve just moved? Should you encourage people to vote absentee?
Normally I’d wait until July at least to write about the 2020 election, but this year I’m making an exception.
After all, the Idaho legislature is off to a smooth start. Yes, there was a $90 million difference between Gov. Brad Little’s revenue projection and the legislature’s, but it seems to affect only one item–the hold-over to next year.
And there’s really little I can add to the discussion of the government shutdown. Federal employees, citizens needing services, and local economies are hurting more every day over a wall that 60 percent of the people don’t believe would accomplish anything. It must end, but I’ve no insights into how or when.
Moreover, a new weekly column by FiveThirtyEight, an on-line affiliate of ABC, on “what the potential 2020 candidates are doing and saying” called to the political junkie in me.
Surprisingly, two Republicans were included as possible primary opponents to President Trump: former Arizona Senator Jeff Flake and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Both have shown more spine in standing up to the president than most Republicans. Kasich recently said President Trump was wrong for not “putting the country ahead of his politics and being more flexible in his goals.”
Seventeen Democrats were mentioned. The two most articulate and experienced are leading all the polls right now: former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders. Biden is noted for being good-natured and compromising; Sanders, for being combative and standing by the middle class.
Either would make a great president except–both will be nearly 80 before inauguration in 2021. Donald Trump is the first president to be over 70 at inauguration.
Just how big a barrier is advancing age?
Five of the potential nominees named are women now serving in Congress. The best known–and my personal favorite–is Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. An oft-cited scholar on commercial law, she has a clear understanding how government now funnel all gains from economic growth to the nation’s richest 10 percent. Warren is a strong, dauntless advocate for the middle class.
But just how big a barrier is being female?
Hillary Clinton was not only the victim of 30 years of vicious political attacks and the Russians’ online rumor-mongering, but she was held to a stricter standard than any of the male candidates.
In four one-on-one polls of potential candidates, Oprah Winfrey beat out both women and lost to both men.
And there is a full field of lesser-known male candidates with good credentials. Maryland Rep. John Delaney was the first to announce his candidacy. He started out working in construction and founded two successful lending firms. He didn’t run for re-election in 2018 so he could campaign full-time. He’s opening offices and giving speeches in Iowa this month.
Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown has championed human rights during 26 years in Congress. His two books, Congress from the Inside and Myths of Free Trade, explain his actions and beliefs.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is considered a “dark horse” even though he served 15 years in the U.S. House before becoming governor and chair of the Democratic Governors’ Association. He sees climate change as a real threat, has both legislative and executive experience, and knows people with cabinet-level qualifications from coast to coast.
Five potential candidates are under 50. Beto O’Rourke and Julian Castro are Hispanic; Corey Booker, black; Tulsi Gabbard, Samoan and Hindu; and Richard Ojeda, a 15-year military veteran.
One or more of these candidates must capture the minds and loyalties of the young activists which made the Democratic victories of 2018 possible. The country needs a new president.