Citizen Activism, Food for Thought, Voting = Resistance

Indivisible Protests Faso in Pawling: What We Need to Do Now

April 21 marked the first “protestable” event since the election where Faso was present in Southern Dutchess. Not all protests are created equally, but this one was particularly important. Not only had Trumpcare once again raised its monstrous head, but also folks in Southern Dutchess need our support. In NY-19, Southern Dutchess often gets overlooked. One particularly heinous example is that Faso closed the Hyde Park Congressional field office, thus making it even harder for anyone in Southern Dutchess, including someone with a constituent problem who needs to meet with him or his staff, to get to him.

Over 60 people attended this (very peaceable) protest. We were all in line as Faso got out of his car and walked into the restaurant, and we chanted suitably (“Stand with the people, not with the money,” that sort of thing). He did not look over at us, but just marched in, as, from time to time, did the proverbial men in suits. The restaurant had pulled the curtains over the windows so they couldn’t see out, and we couldn’t see in. Each time the door opened, we chanted, so though they might not have been able to see us, they certainly heard from us.

Now it’s time to turn this good energy into candidates for electoral office and do our part to create a blue wave in Dutchess County. As political scholar Theda Skocpol has rightly noted, “if Democrats do better than expected in the small elections and the 2018 elections, ‘Republicans in Congress will start to get scared and they’ll start to pull away from Trump.’”

In A guide to rebuilding the Democratic Party, from the ground up in Vox’s “The Big Idea” series), Professor Skocpol wrote:

. . . party organs and the party faithful can’t afford to let the worries about 2018 Senate losses or 2020 positioning take up all of the air. Democrats need to organize widely across the country and rebuild their bench of elected officials. Unless Democrats register legislative and state-level gains starting in 2017, they will not succeed in shifting the momentum for 2020.

The good news is that the immediate electoral opportunities line up well with what Democrats need to do to rebuild nationally. Over the next two years, thousands of state offices and 438 House seats will be on the ballot, and those contests are excellent places to organize for Trump era accountability and pushback.

We’ve already seen examples of local election successes and their impact, both in Dutchess County and elsewhere:

  • On March 21, 2017, the first electoral test of this year’s local activism produced victories for Democratic-endorsed candidates in the competitive elections in Rhinebeck Village and Red Hook Village. Through Democratic volunteer GOTV efforts, turn-out was up dramatically in both places. Read more here.
  • In a spate of local elections . . . in Illinois, Democrats picked up seats in places they’ve never won before. . . . a number of Democrats who just won got a boost from a program launched by Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) called Build The Bench. It’s an all-day boot camp that offers nuts-and-bolts details for running a successful campaign. Bustos came up with the idea last year when she noticed a dearth of new Democratic candidates for Congress, and decided the best way to help build up her party’s ranks was at the local level. Read more here.

Now’s the time to get to work to achieve results like these throughout the Hudson Valley. Finding and supporting Democratic candidates for upcoming races is a great place to start. Here are some opportunities coming up in 2017:

2017 Open County and State-wide Seats:

Comptroller: Dem-endorsed candidate is Robin Lois

State Supreme Court Justice: Dem-endorsed candidate is  Christi Acker

25 Dutchess County Legislature seats (There will be 25 seats on the Dutchess County Legislature to be decided this November. Democrats are a distinct minority on this body. That can and must change.)

LaGrange Township:

The open positions for which candidates are needed are listed below. There are currently no Democratic candidates for these positions.

Town Supervisor, salary $66,650+$4000 as budget officer

Town Board (2 positions) stipend $8,000 (+$2,000 for deputy supervisor)

Highway Superintendent, salary $86,485

Town Justice, salary $27,000

The local Democratic committee says “it is very willing to help enthusiastic candidates learn.” Town of LaGrange Democratic Committee Chairman Marco Caviglia has said he is happy to chat with anyone to help get a feel for what is required. He can be contacted at marcocaviglia20@gmail.com

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