Donald Trump being elected president is one of the worst things that has ever happened to the United States. It’s been a full-on catastrophe in all ways but one: The resistance to his regime also provided a jolt of new energy and determination to a Democratic Party that desperately needed it, motivating millions of activists and candidates to build grassroots infrastructure that generally takes years to grow.
Luisa Wakeman is a perfect example of this progressive revival. A resident of the Atlanta suburbs, she’d long figured most of her neighbors were Republicans, so she never spent too much time on politics; instead, she focused on her family and her dual career as a flight attendant and cardiac care nurse (really!). But when Donald Trump mocked of Gold Star families and disabled reporters in 2016, it pulled her off the sidelines; she began volunteering for the Clinton campaign that summer, and when Trump scored his unlikely victory, Wakeman vowed to get even more involved.
Fast forward a few years later and Wakeman is one of the most promising Democratic state legislature candidates in Georgia. She’s running a strong campaign in the rapidly changing and very flippable HD-43, a seat Democrats desperately need to win.
“My parents were immigrants, my family is originally from Holland, and my grandparents were in the Dutch Resistance during World War II. I grew up with stories about what can happen when people look away,” Wakeman tells Progressives Everywhere. “I knew I had to get involved when I saw hatred infused without repercussions.”
This is Wakeman’s second run for the State House. In 2018, Wakeman came less than 800 votes of unseating long-time State Rep. Sharon Cooper, a Republican who hadn’t faced any electoral opposition since 2010. It’s a familiar story; for a decade, Democrats just ceded legislative seats like this one to Republicans, allowing them to enact all sorts of racist, sexist, homophobic, and anti-democratic laws in states throughout the country. That’s especially true in Georgia, where extreme anti-LGBTQ laws and mass voter suppression have become the norm.