A look back at how we got here….
There are certainly plenty of reasons for America to celebrate the beginning of the winter season:
- This is the time we recognize Martin Luther King Jr’s Birthday.
- Winter represents a time in American history when President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.
- This is the season we witnessed the inauguration of the nation’s first African American President.
That inauguration reminded us that to realize our dreams; we have to participate! A year ago, voters of color (VOC) joined other Americans to decide how the government would address the most pressing issues of our times. As the result of dramatic demographic changes, voters of color made the difference in many areas around the country—electing candidates to office who now have the political support to embrace progressive policies. These voters have become the leverage elected officials need to keep campaign promises and support a plan that will have a far-reaching impact on this nation.
In short, the next few years are about more than just a mandate. It is about who voted and the role they are going to play in politics. Much like the Tea Party in 2010, the new coalition of progressive whites, Latinos, African Americans, Asians, Native Americans, women, youth, and unions are poised to change the way America invests in the economy. Also, how we extract and repurpose revenue ensures that the government continues expanding democracy to everyone living in America.
Like the winter of 2012, when Congress had over 18 new members of color joining other progressive Congress members to shape our legislative process. They came from states with significant VOC populations like California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, and Texas.
So how did that affect Congress? Most of the 18 new members were from districts where Democrats received outsized support from progressive whites and VOC in key precincts. This support from voters helped Congress members offset most of the political deficits they could’ve faced while compromising and deal-making. This made it difficult for the other side to sustain an obstructionist strategy without publically appearing to be “sore losers.”
Moreover, the President had the bully pulpit. Like in the 2012 campaign, the new coalition of progressive voters made it possible to expand the political map at critical points in the legislative cycle. For example, President Obama’s support in California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, and New Mexico built a legislative firewall during policy negotiations. Simply put, a party will not survive in this new political landscape if it loses favorability from VOC by a 3 to 1 margin.
In the end, we have to remind ourselves that all politics are local. Any party that successfully reached unique pockets of voters during the 2022 campaign will have an advantage in 2023. They can easily overwhelm the other side by amplifying this new coalition’s influence. All it would take is a combination of traditional civic engagement tactics with 21st-century data-driven technology. This strategy of micro-targeting voters by specific issues was used in Ohio in 2012 and proved to be impactful — it delivered a decisive victory for the progressive coalition. For example, the VOC vote share increased to 19% of the 2012 electorate from 16% in 2008.
It’s time to get ready for the next generation, the new Congress, the new coalition of progressive voters, and another historic moment. This winter America honors Martin Luther King, Jr. as the world remembers the inauguration of President Obama. It was also a defining moment for people of color. For the first time since the passage of the Voting Rights Act, their votes had a profound influence on the political landscape of America. We now have an opportunity to govern with a more forward set of strategies. This makes it easier for students of color to support the policies we believe in. #2R1WM