We are the Koch brothers we’ve been waiting for
There’s much to mourn but a brief period of gloating may now begin.
At a safe distance, you can now tell your aunt’s Trump-loving boyfriend, who added you on Facebook before he discovered Infowars and meth in early 2016, that we have seen a wave and it looks a little blue-ish.
“Rs had a huge structural advantage going into 2018,” tweeted Amy Walter, National Editor, Cook Political Report. “The fact that Ds may net 40 seats is a rout. Period. This argument that it’s not as bad as Obama’s 63 seat loss in 2010 is laughable.”
And in the likelihood that Kyrsten Sinema will become the first Democratic Senator from Arizona in more than 20 years and how five recounts in Florida show that, even before 1.5 million new voters join the state’s rolls in 2020, Republicans were only holding the state through sheer voter suppression and — yes — that is a blue wave getting in your eyes.
But how? You could argue it was easy, the same way the 2016 election was supposed to be easy.
“The math was plain as day that all Democrats had to do was consolidate the people who didn’t like Trump and they’d blow the Republicans out,” Vox‘s Matt Ygleisas wrote.
Sure, this sounds inevitable now, but we shouldn’t shrug away the advantages that made the possibility that the GOP would get away with trying unsinsure 20 million while obstructing the most important investigation in the history our elections not only possible but likely.
Scott Walker lost — thanks, in large part, to the amazing efforts to overcome his years of escalating voter suppression — but Republicans still control the 63 percent of the seats in the Wisconsin State Assembly despite only winning on 46 percent of the votes. Winning every statewide election in Michigan wasn’t even enough for a tie in one house of our legislature.
“That’s a durable, powerful gerrymander,” said Mark Brewer, former chair of the Michigan Democratic Party. And that also describes American politics.
It wasn’t just the illegal partisan maps after the 2010 that dragged this country right, a series of Supreme Court decisions in that same era including Citizens United, which blew up campaign finance regulation and Shelby v. Holder, which maimed voting rights protections, allowing Republicans to rewrite the rules of the game to maximize the advantages designed to favor slave owners and small states.
“Unless the Democratic Party becomes stronger and more effective, a radicalized Republican-conservative juggernaut is likely to take over for decades,” Academicwho studied the Tea Party stated in early 2017, when the debate over who would run the Democratic National Committee would decide the fate of human history. She argued the volunteer demographic clustering of Democrats in urban areas meant that the party couldn’t create its own Tea Party movement. Thus a strong DNC was essential.
I doubt even the candidates believe that now.
No one is crediting the DNC or discussing it much at all now. Instead, the three main factors of the race seem to be 1) Trump repulsing everyone but billionaires, temporarily embarrassed billionaires and white people who’ve never slept in a dorm, 2) historic turnout for a midterm fed by massive organizing efforts like the Women’s March and Indivisible and 3) Democrats magnifying their reach by donating everywhere.
The Cook Report’s Dave Wasserman tweeted, “[T]here’s a lot of evidence to suggest Dems’ massive $$ edge in battleground CDs ended up mostly offsetting their geographic disadvantage.”
Dems may ultimately have been outspent when you total up big donations like the $88 million Sheldon Adelson gave the GOP. And while the 38,666,868 contributions made through ActBlue, up from 21,194,898 in the 2016 cycle, may not get anyone a Medal of Honor, like the one the Adelsons have bought Sheldon’s wife Miriam, they may have made the difference in 2018.
Democratic consultant Jesse Ferguson called small donors Democrats’ answer to the Koch brothers, but they could also be the answer to Citizens United, and eventually Shelby v. Holder.
Progressive giving has been relentless, targeted and early. It started with the effort to win Tom Price’s old House seat with Jon Ossoff and that loss blossomed into dozens of similar efforts along with targeted efforts like Give Smart and Progressives Everywhere. ACASignups’s Charles Gaba — like thousands or tens of thousands of activists — uses to site to direct funds to collections of candidates, such as Democrats running for Michigan’s very gerrymandered House.
ActBlue made a lot of this possible with its sweet wallet that makes giving almost addictive, but that technology is easy to copy. What’s not easy to duplicate is the spirit of the site which matches this progressive moment and the democratic opposition to Trump.
And Republican have noticed.
“This is a five-alarm fire,” said Gerrit Lansing, former Republican National Committee top digital strategist.
As they do with anything that threatens their power — like voting or people not dying of preventable diseases — conservatives are framing this very legal payment platform as a threat that must be crushed. I never discount the GOP’s ability to use democracy to eat away at democracy but much of the party’s passion for weaponizing speech to push campaign donations largely outside the realm of regulation will likely prevent it from killing the site, the way it killed ACORN, over and over again.
So ActBlue will likely play a starring role in the 2020 elections from the first caucus to the last recount.
Democrats are used to financing much of this nation with our tax dollars. Now we can do the same with smart funding of not just candidates but get out the vote programs, think tanks and other campaigns fueling electoral reforms like we just saw here in Michigan.
Then instead of debating whether this was a wave, we can call it a spark of a lasting revolution.