You know it was a busy week when the dirty and bizarre details of a porn star’s affair with the President of the United States does not register as the most prominent story of the last seven days. It’s disturbing and weird, but we have much bigger fish to fry (though we’ll leave sharks alone; they seem to really get under Trump’s skin).
Saturday was a perfect microcosm of the Trump presidency. On the year anniversary of his poorly attended inauguration, he shut down the government at the advice of his most bigoted advisers; cashed in on the presidency by charging outrageous prices to hang out with B-list cable news celebrities at his private club; and women across the country marched again, to not only protest Trump’s awful policies, but to send the message that they were organized and working to overthrow his anti-immigrant, anti-women, anti-children, anti-human agenda.
As noxious as Trump is, the women who attended the marches across the country represent the best of America. They’re compassionate, progressive people who care about their neighbors. They want to see everyone in this country treated equally, afforded opportunity and given help when needed. They were rallying for one another, but also for every American that couldn’t make it to a protest on Saturday. They were rallying for workers, for immigrants, for children, for people without a voice.
And guess what? It’s already working! As we noted earlier this week, Democrats won another special election, as Progressives Everywhere-endorsed candidate Patty Schachtner flipped a bright red State Senate seat in Wisconsin. It was a major victory for the state party, which is working to take back a government hijacked and gerrymandered by Gov. Scott Walker, and another sign that there is a seachange — a #BlueWave, as Twitter calls it — coming later this year… if we work for it.
Local Candidates: Karla Bingham and Melissa Wagner for Minnesota State Senate & Legislature
Schachtner’s big win in Wisconsin — she won by nine points in a district the GOP has owned for nearly two decades! — proves that Democrats aren’t irrelevant in the Midwest, and that districts they may have written off in the past will vote blue if given the opportunity. It also proves that focusing on local elections is a crucial part of this resistance — after all, state governments draw up congressional maps and, even more crucially, are the most consistent government presence in people’s lives.
But local politics can be… complicated, and the nuances of county infrastructure can be a little bit hard to follow. It requires great patience, devotion, and even passion, which is why we are lucky to have lawmakers like Karla Bingham. A former member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, and now a member of the Washington County Board, she’s doing the work that is so vital to rebuilding America on the ground level. She’s running for the vacated Minnesota 54th district State Senate seat, and the special election is on February 12th.
Read her biography, and you’ll see that she’s a get-it-done legislator who pays attention to nuance when most of us are wrapped up in reading about Trump’s spanking habits. Her focus on infrastructure and transportation is huge, given America’s crumbling infrastructure — especially since Minnesota became a poster child for that issue due to its infamous bridge collapse.
This is a crucial race because the GOP holds the power in that chamber by one seat. That’s the source of controversy, since the new Lt. Governor is also a State Senator. That may not be legal, so the balance of power is really up in the air. Beyond her qualifications, Bingham needs to hold on to this seat for Democrats, because a legal ruling could change everything. If she loses, no legal decision will change the balance of power.
Minnesota has another special election on the 12th, this one for a rural State House district. Melissa Wagner is a farmer and school social worker, so she’s very well-known and very beloved in Butternut Valley township. Rural America has gone to Republicans over the last few decades, which is absurd given their positions on the environment, infrastructure, public health, and big agricultural business.
People like Melissa really understand the issues faced by small farmers and rural citizens, and reading over her website, you know she’s going to be a great voice for her neighbors — and perhaps one day, large swaths of the country.
Support Women Candidates through Emerge America
Unfortunately, the political system is still very much biased towards men. Due to a whole host of factors — historical, sociological, and cultural — men are much more likely to run for office. White men, who account for 31% of the population, hold 65% of elected offices. Mathematically, it’s absurd! Practically, it’s awful! It’s bad for our country for so many reasons, and it needs to change.
Luckily, women are running for office at record rates, and the organization Emerge America is playing a big part in that. It was founded back in 2005 but has really come into prominence over the past year. The group provides training, support, and expertise to progressive women who want to run for office, and was a huge factor in the Democratic wave that swept across Virginia in November.
In 2017 alone, the group helped 150 women win elected office — and that was a year without many elections. As more and more women decide to run for office, Emerge will only play a bigger role. And given how often they work with local candidates, a small donation can go a long way!