We are fewer than 70 days away from the most important midterm election in our nation’s history. Anticipation is building as many polls predict that November 2018 will be much better for Democrats than the November 2016 election that gave us the ongoing train wreck that is the Trump misadministration.
It is increasingly likely that Democrats will win control of the U.S. House of Representatives in November. The Senate, however, is a little tougher to gauge. While Democrats only need to pick up two Senate seats, they will also be defending 25, including several in red states like Montana, North Dakota, and Indiana.
We’ll see what happens on November 6.
One thing that has been a revelation to everyone except black America is that black women are undeniably the base of the Democratic Party. It was black women who nearly put Hillary Clinton in the White House, with 98 percent of them supporting her. African-American female votes also powered the blue electoral tsunami in Virginia last year, along with the upset that resulted in Doug Jones becoming the distinguished senator from Alabama instead of the reprehensible Roy Moore.
The historic surge of black women running for office in 2018 has been powered in large part by the backlash to Trump’s shocking 2016 victory. With candidates like Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams, we are poised to make serious gains this year in terms of political representation.
As I frequently like to point out, you cannot get liberal, progressive policies from conservative politicians. But it seems that the nation’s progressive movement still hasn’t learned that it must also trust and elect more black women—and black people in general.
When I attended the Netroots Nation conference in New Orleans last month, black attendees were disgusted to hear a white keynote speaker bash “identity politics.” Democratic senator Bernie Sanders has made the same mistake by claiming that class is more important than race, and that the Democratic Party needs to get beyond identity politics.
News flash for Bernie, and everyone else parroting that talking point: all politics in the U.S. is identity politics, and white progressive politicians need to stop river-dancing away from that fact. The Republicans have been pimping white grievance for political success since the 1960s. That’s what fueled George Wallace’s presidential campaign in 1968, and it’s the major reason why Trump is now desecrating the Oval Office.
The fact that 90 percent of legislators are white men has had deleterious effects on communities of color, and especially the black community. Our legislators are supposed to be representative of the people of this country and this state, so we need them to look more like America, not more like the white male slice of America.
And if we want progressive policies like Medicare for All, student-loan-debt forgiveness, criminal-justice reform, reauthorization and strengthening of the Voting Rights Act, passage of the Equality Act, strengthening of DACA, a humane immigration policy, and net neutrality, the only way to get them is by not only trusting black women, but also electing more of them to office.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California) has been calling for the impeachment of “Dolt 45” for several months. The name of senator Kamala Harris (D-California) keeps popping up when the discussion turns to potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. Some of the record number of female candidates running in the 2018 cycle are trailblazing black women like Minnesota state representative Ilhan Omar. Omar is hoping to replace Democratic congressman Keith Ellison, who is running for Minnesota attorney general. Jahana Hayes, the 2016 National Teacher of the Year, is vying to become the first black person to represent Connecticut in Congress.
Our outrage at the Texas GOP over the 2017 state legislative session has also sparked a large wave of female candidates in the Lone Star State. Just three of the state’s 38 congressional districts are currently represented in Washington by women (Republican Kay Granger, and Democrats Sheila Jackson Lee and Eddie Bernice Johnson). Meanwhile, only 37 of the 181 seats in the Texas Legislature are held by women.
But female candidates are winning this year. Over 50 percent of them won their party’s primary races. Here in Houston, those women include 19 African-Americans running for various judicial races in our ongoing effort to turn Harris County blue. Valerie Hefner is running for an open state legislative seat in House District 62 in the Sherman area.
In addition to your campaign donations and volunteer hours, these candidates need your most precious commodity: your vote. If you aren’t registered to vote, you have until October 9. Early voting runs October 22 through November 3.
In the last midterm election, Texas had a pathetic 28.5 percent voter turnout rate—the second-lowest in the nation. We must do better than that if we want to see significant change in the Lone Star State.
I need to say this again until people get it: your progressive base is black women. You must support them in order to ignite progressive victory this fall.
Trust black women, and elect black women. By doing so, you’ll advance the progressive agenda we all want.
This article appears in the September 2018 edition of OutSmart magazine.