Do you remember Jon Ossoff’s fight last year in Georgia? I do. It was one of the biggest election stories out of 2017: a charismatic, young neophyte took on a rightwing Trumper in a deep red district. (GA-6 has a Cook PVI of R+8). This was the seat formerly held by Newt Gingrich and Tom Price.
Rachel Maddow covered how much money the guy raised—(she credited DailyKos). In the end, he lost. The victor, Karen Handel, only strengthened her position: the GOP poured money into her 2018 race, while the DCCC essentially ignored it—and her opponent—until late August. The NRA strongly endorsed Handel and sent in their dark forces to put down the Daily Kos-endorsed Democratic threat, Lucy McBath. It looked grim for the majority-white district where a black woman from Jacksonville, who has never held elected office, was trying to flip the seat of a GOP incumbent. Most political handicappers didn’t even include this district as one likely to be flipped.
In the end, the GOP did manage to greatly increase their turnout in this district for the election, and it should have been all over for the blue team.
But then, something happened: Lucy McBath won.
I remember hearing these words and thinking, ”wait…what?!?”
Lucy McBath had an upset victory, mostly because she ran her campaign her way, and not the way the professional political class was telling her how to do things. In fact, I think Democrats could learn a thing or two from her.
First of all, in the red waves of 2010 and 2014, there wasn’t a red politician running in any district—no matter how blue—that didn’t campaign against Obama. Yet Democratic candidates in red districts were repeatedly warned to lay off Trump. In fact, in every election, they were told that independents and “moderate” Republicans are way too fragile for any kind of anti-GOP rhetoric, and God forbid you upset the others so they’ll be more motivated to work against you. I can’t tell you the contempt I have for the losers who constantly promote this failed strategy. And yet this happens:
Brendan Kelly, the Democratic county prosecutor who is looking to unseat Republican Rep. Mike Bost here in Southern Illinois, started his pitch to voters at a recent meet-and-greet by lamenting Congress’ failure to address the region’s crumbling infrastructure.
But one thing was conspicuously absent from his voter outreach: Any mention of President Donald Trump.
In the lead-up to next month’s midterm elections, Democrats in competitive races have largely avoided framing their campaign as a referendum on Trump as they seek support from independents and moderate Republicans. The dialing back of anti-Trump rhetoric can also be seen in some races for Senate, where Democrats face a longer shot of winning control.
Yeah. Brendan Kelly lost. So did many others who followed this strategy.
Lucy McBath not only didn’t shy away from talking about Trump but more importantly, she shoved her opponent’s face in his very unpopular policies. From trying to take away healthcare, to hurting farmers with supporting needless trade wars, and being a chief advocate of the family separation crisis, McBath was relentless in going after Karen Handel.
This, my friends, is exactly how to do a campaign ad:
Secondly, Democrats are always told to shy away from gun control in a red district.
Well, the tide has finally turned.
McBath based her entire campaign on fighting for stricter gun laws.
This is the hardest for establishment Dems to accept. When we had control of the government from 2008-2010, we had our best chance to end the slaughter—but didn’t. The NRA was seen as too powerful, and rural Democrats feared alienating their constituents. We lost power anyway, and kids have been killed on a daily basis.
Now, it’s those kids who are leading the movement, and who showed everyone the paper tiger the NRA has always been. Now, after tens of millions in membership revenue has disappeared, dozens of companies have cut ties, and campaign spending has almost completely dried up, Democrats have finally begun to take notice. In our blue wave election, the 45 NRA-backed candidates lost their seats. One of them was Karen Handel.
McBath essentially told the NRA, “Come at me, bro.” She lost her son, Jordan Davis, to one of their paranoid supporters who didn’t like the music playing in the car in which he was a passenger—so she’s not afraid. (I can’t wait for one of their proponents in Congress to inevitably put their foot in their mouth when they try to lecture her on this subject.) I would tell the NRA to “be very afraid”, but that is already their entire mode of operation.
These students are thankful the NRA is losing its influence on our politics pic.twitter.com/OWFYAiDyBB
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) November 22, 2018
Lastly, we were told we had to reach out and understand the Trump voter. Am I the only one who remembers the media’s obsession over the profile of the Trump supporter? Countless stories of what they want and why we should listen to them?
Well, Democrats won this election overwhelmingly. Interestingly enough, there have been no stories or profiles written up of the angry anti-Trump voter and what our demands might be. Funny, that.
McBath is never, ever going to win over the racist Trump dead-enders, and she didn’t bother trying. She didn’t run a damn campaign on “infrastructure” or other “areas of agreement”. No. She said she had a progressive agenda that featured fighting for real gun control. She made it known that she is fighting for healthcare, abortion rights, and to stop the persecution of immigrants. Instead of running from progressive values, she instead made the case that supporting such an agenda will make everyone’s lives better in GA-6.
And then she won.
The left needs to learn from this. Our issues ARE winning issues—even in red districts. Be proud of them, run on them and then implement them, dammit. Don’t be afraid to learn something from this new brand of fighting Dem. Ignorance is never something to be proud of, no matter what Trump supporters will try to tell you.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.