The wave of Democratic wins across the nation on Nov. 7 left no doubt: Resistance to Trumpism is alive and well, and Americans are ready to show it at the polls.
While the tweeter-in-chief won’t be on the ballot until 2020, the U.S. House elections in fall 2018 will either give Democrats the power they need to stop Trump’s disastrous agenda, or give Republicans another two years to help the rich get richer and enact policies that are anti-woman, bigoted and flat-out racist.
If Democrats want to win, they have to abandon the old, failed ways of reaching out in vain to Republican voters. Instead, they should engage our most marginalized and loyal voters, represent more than enough votes to turn the House blue.
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That mission starts in California, home to seven of the 23 most vulnerable GOP seats in the nation. Reps. Darrell Issa, Ed Royce, Mimi Walters, Dana Rohrabacher, Steve Knight, David Valadao and Jeff Denham won in 2016 in districts where Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump.
Despite their purple constituencies, the California Seven have voted in lockstep with Trump, including for the inhumane bill that would have stripped Californians of health care.
The voters in these seven districts represent the ever-growing diversity of California. In some cases, people of color have become a new majority, an underestimated but powerful constituency that holds the key to taking our country back. In Valadao’s Central Valley district, the voting-age population is 61 percent Latino, Asian and black; it’s more than 50 percent in Royce’s Orange County district; and the new American majority is quickly approaching a majority in the districts held by Knight and Denham.
You don’t have to be a math whiz to see that campaigns built around motivating voters of color – and talking about the issues that matter most to them – have a great chance of success.
Of course, white progressives are a key part of the New American Majority, too. However, it is clear that Democrats would be better off not wasting time and money chasing so-called white swing voters – those with a history of voting Republican who, in a fantasy world, might switch if they see a catchy enough commercial.
It didn’t work for Clinton in the presidential election. It didn’t work for Jon Ossoff in Georgia in the special House election in June. It won’t work to defeat the California Seven and take back the House in 2018.
People of color, the LGBTQ community, young voters and white progressives are much more likely to vote for Democrats, and there are nearly enough of them to carry some of these districts all on their own. In Ralph Northam’s victory for Virginia governor on Nov. 7, the voters who showed up for him were black, women and 18- to 29-year-olds.
As our nation grows as diverse as California, the progressive movement in this state must serve as a model for politicians across the country. Our message is elevate the voices and concerns of everyday Americans, and they’ll have your back.
Given the stakes of next year’s election, it isn’t just a moral strategy. It is a winning strategy – and frankly, the only strategy that can keep the GOP from undoing so much of the progress in our communities.
Tim Molina is organizing director at the Courage Campaign, an advocacy group based in California. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.