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Two Weeks to High-Stakes Midterms, Two Years to 2024

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People bending over tables in a large hall, filling out ballots

We don’t know how the election will turn out, but we know what we need to do: get out our votes, protect our wins, assess our situation, and pull together for 2024.

The midterms are just two weeks away and no one has more than a wild guess as to what the results are going to be.

But if we step out of the weeds of contradictory polling results and click-bait media narratives, we see plenty of certainties about what we’ll all be dealing with on Wednesday, November 9.

First, MAGA’s drive to capture the White House in 2024 via voter suppression, disinformation, and demagogy—and, if necessary, a “legal coup” that over-rides the will of the voters—is going to intensify. A sizable proportion of MAGA election deniers who have fewer votes than their opponents are going to claim that they won.

Second, the Supreme Court majority will continue to function as the judicial arm of the MAGA movement when it hears key cases on its 2023 docket on voting rights, partisan gerrymandering, and the “independent state legislature doctrine.”

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And by no means least, it’s going to take everything the progressive wing of the anti-MAGA front has to prevent MAGA from accomplishing its goals. Nimble pivoting from one stage of the fight to the next is going to be essential. The next two weeks require an all-out push on voter turnout and voter persuasion. On Election Day and for weeks afterwards, the challenge of protecting every electoral victory will come to the fore. Then we will have to pivot to a hard-nosed and serious assessment of the post-midterm balance of strength at all levels of government, in public opinion and in institutions, and of the degree of unity in each contending political trend.

Then we will launch into the two-year drive to 2024. We will need a deft combination of campaigns, base-building, messaging, and consistent voter engagement to position ourselves to (1) galvanize the largest possible repudiation of MAGA; and (2) come out of the 2024 balloting more united and in a stronger position relative to other political currents in the anti-MAGA bloc.

Turn a toss-up into a blue wave

Whatever the pundits and polls say about the supposed GOP edge going into the midterm home stretch, everything is up for grabs. Every vote is going to make a difference. The big majority that turned out against MAGA in both 2018 and 2020 is still out there and can be galvanized with an all-out home stretch effort focused especially on battleground states and districts. (See Time for a Big October Push to Beat the Right, by Eddie Wong and this 2022 Senate and House Strategic Overview from the Movement Voter Project.)

Bernie Sanders is setting the pace with an eight-state, 19-event blitz.  The entire progressive movement has a lot to learn from his consistent strategy of hammering the billionaire class and advocating a working-class agenda while participating wholeheartedly in the broad anti-MAGA front.

Come Election Day, we need to stand firmly against efforts to harass and intimidate voters—especially voters of color. And in the aftermath hit hard at every challenge to the legitimacy of vote counts in contests that MAGA candidates lose. Voter protection projects are hard at work, training poll watchers to defend voters’ rights and preparing for post-vote count actions to defend the results. For information or to sign up, check out the Voter Protection Project or The Frontline Election Defenders program.  

Towards 2024

Specific action plans for the next two years of work will have to wait until the dust settles and we have a sense of the post-midterm terrain. But the contours of the MAGA threat already stand out in sharp relief, so many of the main components of any 2022-2024 plan can identified now.

  • Linking the fight for political democracy to material improvements in the day to day lives of the popular majority  has to be integral to progressive organizing, development of a compelling narrative, and—depending on who holds legislative power—advocacy of or defense against specific pieces of federal legislation.
  • Only an approach that connects the fights for racial and gender justice to the defense—and expansion—of democracy can tap the energy and leadership in the constituencies essential to defeating the MAGA threat. And no durable movement can be built unless progressives are in the forefront of fights against climate change and war, militarism, and empire.
  • Even as progressives focus on electoral engagement as essential to preventing authoritarian rule, we need to invest in work that is crucial for the long-range future of progressive politics. MAGA has worked for decades to turn white evangelical churches into vibrant and truly mass right-wing organizations. We have match that with left-wing forms at that scale—which means rebuilding the labor movement above all – or we will never move past fighting one defensive fight after another.

To varying degrees all of these challenges are being taken up by key segments of today’s progressive movement. But coordination among different groups—unified messaging, effective allocation of resources, division of labor, more rapid spread of best organizing practices—is undeveloped. MAGA operates as a unified force, while progressives remain fragmented. That must change if we are to become a contender for political power. The most recent push for our movement to move decisively on this front —Time to Re-Align: We Can’t Win from Our Safety Zones—deserves serious attention.

To underscore the stakes, here’s the opening prayer at the latest rally led by a son of the leader of the Republican Party, along with Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Shortly before an appearance by the GOP candidate for governor of Pennsylvania, they intoned:

“God, open the eyes of President Trump’s understanding, that he will know how to implement divine intervention. And you will not surround him with RINO trash, in the name of Jesus.”

Featured image: Early voting at Jefferson Parish Registrar of Voters, October 2020. Photo by Infrogmation of New Orleans, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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