We're Not Finished Yet

Remember how you felt when you went to bed on Tuesday night, like the world was a horror movie? That is, if you went to bed? That was a night even chocolate couldn’t fix.

We might still be feeling like that, if not for what you did. This election will be close in the states that made the difference. It’s hard to fathom, but Donald Trump might very well have won reelection, and he didn’t, because of you and others like you. Thank you.

You've helped to make a miracle. You are part of America’s proud and sustained tradition of electoral integrity.

Joe Biden, competent and decent, unseated someone who seems committed to dismantling our democracy, norm by norm, and law by law. You wouldn’t think that making this happen would be hard to achieve, but it was.

You also contributed to America’s extraordinary turnout and engagement. You made a commitment by performing your civic duty and lifting your voice. And you did it in the face of a pandemic, while fighting off the rhetoric of a narcissist, and in some cases, overcoming both obvious and subtle institutional voter suppression activities intended to keep you home.

Even if all you did was vote for Joe Biden, you've done your part. Wisconsin is blue only because of about 20,000 voters, and it might have been the tipping point state.

Maybe you were even a bigger part of the movement that has created this excruciatingly slow landslide. If your only incremental contribution was to retweet someone's “VOTE” video, you can be proud.

Maybe you helped in a big way. If you were a poll worker, maybe you helped someone vote instead of abandoning a half-filled Joe Biden ballot at the polling station.  If you've phone-banked, text-banked, or door-knocked, you might have found enough voters to hold a state legislature, increase the minimum wage somewhere, or something even more significant. You have helped to change our history.

This is a landslide, but not an avalanche. We maintained a small majority in the House of Representatives, but a simple majority is all we need, and for now we have that. But House seats are fragile.

The Senate, for now, remains in Republican hands. But the Republican majority could become a tie because of this election, and much of the credit for that goes to Stacey Abrams, who registered 800,000 new voters in Georgia. That state’s electors for President — remarkably — could end up in Joe Biden’s column, and that isn’t even the most important event that happened in the Peach State.

It’s this: Georgia is putting the Senate within reach for Democrats.

Donald Trump was able to enact much of his agenda — of no additional economic support to COVID, tax cuts for the wealthiest, and yes, replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court with a woman who is her opposite — because of his enablers. Many of them are in the US Senate.

Let’s just review the power of the Senate in Joe Biden’s immediate future as President:

The Senate Majority Leader decides whether or not bills passed by the House of Representatives get to the Senate floor. Bills don’t get passed and sent to the President unless the Senate concurs in their importance. If you’ve been wondering why there has been no more money to help those devastated economically by coronavirus, this is the reason.

The Senate confirms the President’s Cabinet choices. Mitch McConnell has already hinted that he will break with norms and require President-Elect Biden’s Cabinet choices to meet McConnell’s own definition of “moderate.” McConnell was just re-elected in Kentucky, because every vote matters, and Amy McGrath didn’t get enough of them. He’s 100% important now, but if Democrats controlled the Senate, he would be just one vote out of a hundred. That would be better.

Even with a Democratic majority, legislation will still need to meet a 60-vote Senate filibuster threshold, but many of Biden’s plans could attract enough Republicans for passage. Other bills will face a 50-50 tie, and ties are broken by Vice President-Elect Harris. In short, the difference between change and gridlock rests with control of the Senate.

In the longer term, the majority party in the Senate gets to choose the committee chairs, and decides whether or not to investigate government wrongdoing. And of course, it goes without saying that Joe BIden’s Supreme Court picks, if there are any, face a more sympathetic confirmation process (or any process at all), if a Democrat is the Senate Majority Leader. These two Georgia runoff wins would produce a tie, and other Senate seats don’t always wait for scheduled elections. A majority in the near future is in reach.

It’s out there. But this won’t be easy. Georgia isn’t suddenly a “blue state”. We can thank Donald Trump for being so appalling that independent voters and even Republicans in Georgia came out to remove him. Republicans, even the ones who dislike Trump, still want to have a Republican Senate. This is part of the reason that many down-ballot Republicans like Senator Thom Tillis (NC) outperformed Donald Trump in their states.

We don’t have the advantage of the Trump drag on the ticket in the two upcoming Senate races, and we don’t have a lot of time to build support to elect two Democratic Senators from Georgia. We need to find Georgia voters who didn’t show up in November, but will vote for two Democratic senators. One place to find them: anyone who wasn’t old enough to vote in November but will turn eighteen before the January 5 election and will register to vote before December 7.

On the plus side, the new Senators would be seated with plenty of time to help Joe Biden enact his agenda, the one we worked so hard to make happen.

When Democrats turn out, Democrats win. The battle over mailed ballots and the timing of counting created an unusual situation that might be repeated in the Georgia special elections. Maybe there will be another “red mirage” and maybe there will be another blue shift.

That feeling you had on Tuesday night, when every state seemed to show an insurmountable lead in favor of Donald Trump? Don’t forget that feeling. Leverage it into energy and resolve.

If you live in Georgia, make sure everyone you know understands this: the Senate elections in Georgia are nearly as important as the vote they just cast for President. We’ve learned that we can accomplish so much without leaving the couch.

Georgia voters can request an absentee ballot until November 18, and early in-person voting begins on December 14.

If you don’t live in Georgia, you can help. Donate to the campaigns of Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock. Sign up to phone bank for the candidates.

One thing we have learned from the last two general elections: polls aren’t destiny. And that’s especially true in Georgia. We are destiny.

As Georgia’s revered Congressman John Lewis told us, “The right to vote is precious, almost sacred. It is the most powerful nonviolent tool or instrument in a democratic society. We must use it.”

Now’s the time for some more “good trouble”.