In two years both Democrats and Republicans alike will find themselves desperately trying to increase turnout as every seat in the House of Representatives and about one third of the seats in the Senate. However far that may seem from now, there are still a number of important elections occurring this year that require turnout, and one of these is in Virginia.
Although midterms are still a ways away, progressive’s efforts to increase their influence in government are already underway, even at the state level. This year, the gubernatorial election in Virginia, which pits the Republican Ed Gillespie against the Democrat Ralph Northam, has received a lot of the Democratic party’s attention. The party hopes that with a Northam win the establishment of a liberal governing body would be more possible. Virginia remained blue last November, but Northam’s win would still be a significant victory for progressives.
These past few weeks have been an especially troubling time for many progressives, due largely to DACA’s repeal and the uncertainty that promises to linger in these coming months. This also includes the Graham-Cassidy Bill’s appearance on the senate floor which restarted another ongoing struggle between Democrats and Republicans: the one for affordable healthcare. These issues are two of the most divisive in Congress, and the current political climate has resulted in some Republicans voting against their own party, such is the case with McCain and the Graham-Cassidy Bill. In many cases, it may take only one or two senators to swing the vote one way or another, and thus every opportunity to gain favor in congress is significant.
The importance of gaining Congressional seats was exemplified in Jon Ossoff’s (SFS ‘09) surprise Georgia campaign which signified the importance of smaller elections, like those for House seats. Though record-breaking donations were received by the campaign, Ossoff came in second to Republican Karen Handel—a close loss considering the district’s historically conservative alignments. With less than two months until the November elections, it is vital to remember that grassroots volunteer efforts to support Democratic nominees do have an important impact on a campaign overall. Trump’s election resulted in a dramatic increase in political activism on all sides, and this year will be the first real chance for Democrats to make a breakthrough. Through canvassing, phone banking, fundraising, and other contributions it is possible for citizens to have a say in their government and work towards real change at all levels.