As I’ve said repeatedly through this election cycle, big national elections are not the primary vehicle for change in this country, nor should they be the singular focus of progressives. It’s my contention that the real change in electoral politics happens on the local level. Like conservatives who began organizing in their cities and counties in the late 1950s and early 1960s and then took over the Republican Party, progressives need to do the same for the Democratic Party. Avoid vanity third party campaigns and instead turn local elections into organizing campaigns for social change.
Thus, I read this Elise Foley piece with great interest. Last year in Phoenix, undocumented Americans who wanted to make change within the political system decided to dedicate themselves to help a Latino firefighter named Danny Valenzuela run for City Council. Calling themselves “Team Awesome,” they organized the district for a year and got him elected. Latino turnout rose 486% from the previous election.
This is how to do it.
The Arizona Democratic Party is trying to build upon this today to elect Richard Carmona to the Senate. Not surprisingly, that and the growing Latino power of Arizona is the real point of the article. But I think the more interesting question is the relationship between organizing and progressive politics on the local level.
Those undocumented Americans who organized to elect Valenzuela to the City Council have created more positive change than the entirety of third party presidential runs since World War II.