What We Have Learned From The Past 4 Special Elections

Over the last several months, we fought hard in 4 special elections to fill seats vacated by Republican Congressmen leaving their seats to take positions in the Trump administration. These elections were meant to be easy wins for Republicans yet they proved to be hard fought wins. Ultimately, we lost all four seats but those losses should not overshadow the enormous ground that was gained in each of these elections. In each race, Democrats eroded Republican margins of victories to single digits in deeply red districts that many had written off as unwinnable. We forced Republicans to spent money to fight for seats that they took for granted. What does the resurgence in grassroots organizing and civic engagement signal for the 2018 congressional elections? If we can maintain this momentum, we have real opportunities to regain Democratic control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018!

The data and design team at Code Blue produced the attached graphic that links the gains we have achieved to what is possible in 2018. We know some of you are still reeling from losing the special elections but we at Code Blue see what was achieved as harbingers of hope, testimonies to the success of grassroots organizing and a rallying cry for 2018.
Please feel free to share this graphic far and wide.

If you wish to support the work that we are doing at Code Blue, please consider contributing to our Crowdpac here:
https://www.crowdpac.com/campaigns/244284/code-blue-start-up

Enagaging The Opposition Part III: “Exhausting All Options”

By Jed Alexander

Former Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, recently poked fun at #45 following an exchange between the two The Apprentice hosts by saying, "Hey Donald I have a great idea. Why don’t we switch jobs? You take over TV, because you’re such an expert in ratings, and I take over your job. And then people can finally sleep comfortable again. Hmm?" Though no angel himself, the action star turned politician actually made a solid and humorous point, by reassuring the American people (or those who did not vote for him), that the endless tweets, off-handed comments, and lack of overall knowledge, preparation, and experience has created a psychological cost to many, including a bad migraine.

Each day is a new laundry list of mind-numbing activity: #45 blaming Obama for the gas attack in Syria; extreme vetting steps taken with foreigners handing over their phones with social media passwords, financial records, and questions about their ideology; the revoking of the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order; the State Department cutting off funding to the UN family planning agency; and on and on and on. When will this orange, dream-like nightmare actually end?

The last time I touched base with you, we examined ways to engage the opposition through social media, either through humorous or factual means, recruitment of potential activists, or making it personal by asking direct questions to the opponent, including the use of stories from one’s own life. What if nothing works? What if you have exhausted all means necessary, and at the same time, physically and mentally exhausted yourself between the daily onslaught of news like I mentioned above or the opponent still not budging, never able to convince them that something like climate change is a real thing, or the rights of anyone who is not white or in the LGBTQ community does matter as much as those who voted for #45?

Yes, you can continue engaging or reaching out and recruiting others who align with your political and social views. If you have the mental and physical capability to do so, by all means, fight the good fight through educating others on social media platforms. Or, if you cannot carry on, you can start to refocus and turn back to what matters in the end: Getting a progressive majority elected at the local and state level. Because in the end, this is what matters the most, and where all the defending, educating, and convincing we have engaged in with the opposition will coalesce and become a reality through actual candidates getting elected. They can quibble all they want.

Let us look at two candidates Code Blue is currently supporting: James Thompson, a civil right attorney and US vet who served as a member of the Presidential Honor Guard and is now running for Congress. The details in this candidate’s personal life would make those #45 supporters shake in their orange boots: He wants to diversify the economy and empower our aviation industry; erasing poverty by improving public schools; and saving the benefits of our own vets. Almost sounds similar to a “Make America Great Again” promise which Thompson is pretty much doing, except fighting for the rights of every human being rather than empty promises, flashy campaign bumper sticker slogans and veneer, and owning the problems instead of assigning the blame.

How about Jacqueline Smith for Clerk of Court in Woodbridge, VA? A woman who has spent her life providing free legal services for those who cannot afford a lawyer, or residents in New Orleans affected by Katrina who had to prove their flooded homes were theirs and Smith stepped in to help them secure their ownership. I would say she is making her fellow Americans a priority and “Great” by putting others needs before her own.

Take a moment, breathe, and refocus your activist energies into the endgame and most important objective of Code Blue, building a progressive majority at the local and state level. If you are able to rally support around the above candidates, in addition to social media engagement, more power to you. It is a bloodless “Civil Civil War” with all-hands on deck for a resistance to this administration and the future of democracy and this country, and yes, the world too. Make a difference inch by inch and remember, it is a marathon not a sprint.

I will check in again next month with a brand new series of suggestions to build your “Activist Toolbox.” By then, perhaps #45 will be a bit tamer due to our work together and his daily list of mind-numbing actions evaporating. And if it is business as usual, with his list expanding, do nothing different. Refer to steps 1, 2, and now 3.

Engaging the Opposition, Part I: Social Media Agitation

by Jed Alexander

U.S. Congressman Jason Chaffetz (Utah’s 3rd Congressional District) recently told a crowd at a Salt Lake City town hall that protestors around the country are being paid. As I write and ponder what Chaffetz insinuated, I’m thinking perhaps I should count every word on this page and invoice him for this protest piece alone. The only catch is will he actually pay me? If he doesn’t, does this mean I can retain a lawyer and sue him for not paying an independent contractor like myself, which he has no obligation to do, thus proving my claim irrelevant. Let me think about that one and get back to all of you.

I kid, of course, but wouldn’t it be lovely? What I would like to focus on and suggest are different tactics Code Blue members can use in either engaging or educating the opposition through something I’d like to call “social media agitation.”

Per Merriam-Webster, the word agitator is defined as follows:

one that agitates: such as
a : one who stirs up public feeling on controversial issues <political agitators>

 

Similar to words like “liberal” and “progressive,” where the meaning has become skewed over time, agitator is now associated with a movement beyond peaceful protesting, rather violent action(s). We need to reclaim agitator and engage in positive outreach.

Social media agitation is how Code Blue members, friends of CB, or associates in other groups, can browse, scavenge and infiltrate various news sites and public forums to bring the individual(s) in a given thread to some common ground, potential group membership or perhaps planting tiny indirect seeds of Code Blue’s mission.

This kind of agitation is something I do myself and this is how I do it.

Mission: To More Effectively Engage the Opposition Online

  • If there are comments attacking an individual, use humor or polite defensive techniques to gain sympathy in your favor and off those individual(s).
  • Provide accurate facts for the individual(s) attacking the thread.
  • Private message potential members who sound like they can contribute to Code Blue.
  • If there’s an endless argument, rants, etc., provide information on local and state elections for people to get involved, or make a simple joke to disarm the negativity.
  • Online groups may include CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, NPR, BBC, The New York Times, TIME, The Hill, Wall Street Journal, and yes, those similar to Breitbart. There are many but this is a start.

Some of you may already troll various sites to provide accurate information or correct those in the thread. If that’s the case, keep up the great work. What I’d like for us to attempt is to sway the thread in our favor and have them eventually focus on what matters in the end for our group: Building a progressive majority at the local, state and federal level.

Minnesota Valentine's Special Election Wrap

NOTE: THIS IS A PRELIMINARY WRAP REPORT AND WILL BE UPDATED.

Unfortunately, Laurie J. Warner will not be headed to St. Paul to represent Chisago County, MI. She lost by a mere 462 votes which is. 1.8% of the 25202 registered voters in her district.

Click here for: MINNESOTA ELECTION RESULTS

However, it's worth noting that this is a county which DT won by +30% in an election with 93% turnout. On February 14, 2017 with a much lower registered voter turnout of 28% Laurie's campaign destroyed expectations! She only lost by 6.5% which means that groups like Code Blue contributed to a net is a net gain of +23.5%  

This blew expectations for this senate race out of the water. That net gain is an unprecedented swing!  It means we are absolutely 100% capable of changing the outcome of local elections. By any reasonable measure if this had been a purple district we would have definitely flipped it.

WHAT WORKED:

- PHONE BANKING!  Code Blue's phone banking effort exceeded thousands of man hours which allowed Laurie's campaign to focus on boots on the ground. 

NORMAL FRUSTRATIONS:

- REPUBLICANS ON THE CALL LIST? We had some reports that the voter call lists sometimes contained republicans. Were these wasted calls? Did we turn out voters who were opposed to our candidate? Nope! This is a completely normal part of the process. Lists are scrubbed over successive calls. It's annoying but a natural part of the process.

WHAT DID NOT WORK: 

- YARD SIGN MISSING INFO? In a rural area where broad band access is limited many folks only connection to the internet is via their mobile phone.  Some feedback we heard was that Laurie's yard signs only had her website while her opponent's sign had a contact phone number. 

First Lessons From "Ratf**ked"

I'm just two chapters into Ratf**ked by David Daley and I can already tell it is absolutely essential reading for members of Code Blue. In just the first 32 pages he has laid bare the agents of change who gerrymandered the stranglehold on our state governments. In addition, he has shown how good Americans let this happen, and that, my friends, is a bitter pill to swallow.

Overall, 48% of all registered voters identify as Democrats or lean Democratic compared with 44% who identify as Republican or lean toward the GOP.
— Pew Research Center

However, there are reasons to be optimistic as we forge a new healthy majority in our government. Number one? In the USA there are more democrats and progressive-leaning independents than red-leaning citizens, by far.  

Our biggest problem is turnout. When blue voters are not motivated or feel like their votes won't matter? We lose. Check out this excerpt:

Think about that. If we can turn out just 6% more than their side on the national level we can take back Congress. We've done that before and we can do it again.

But, let's drill down to the state level where we learn something even more essential. Our donated dollars go much much much further:

And at the state level our votes are much more powerful and absolutely critical:

Unfortunately, our blue-voting majorities have been sequestered into districts where they win big in a few areas and then lose the majority of districts in their states. Now our mission is clear: We must find districts that are on the bubble and find ways to increase our blue voter turnout.

If we can do that, we can burst those bubbles.

This Is Not a Revolution

The 2016 election will certainly go down in U.S. history as one of the most bitterly fought and polarizing presidential contests to date. America looks and feels more divided along party lines than ever before. These fractures are not just between Democrats and Republicans but within the parties themselves. 

The Republicans, fresh off the Trump victory, feel the wind at their back and have patched things up for now. Theyre acting like their narrowly ekedout win was a landslide and they have a mandate for change. The fact is theyll now have to lead the country and will be held to account for every misstep.

Meanwhile, the Democrats are caught up in debating the bruising primary, the pros and cons of the candidates, potential Russian hacking, the FBI, Trump’s twitter antics, fake news, identity politics—the list of pitfalls goes on and on. The Democrats are caught up in issues that, while worth conversation and thought, possibly even some action, won't make a difference in the problems that got us here.

It's highly likely that the recounts which are about to start will not change the outcome of the election. I would be delighted to be wrong about that but I suspect we're looking at a minimum of two years of DT with a red majority in congress.

But consider this, even if Hillary had won we would still have a massive entrenched problem. The majority of our state legislatures, governors, and Congress are in the stranglehold of conservative legislators. Obama had two years with a supermajority in Congress and was barely able to pass the Affordable Care Act. Once Congress flipped, we basically watched the USAs legislative bodies become a glacier of infighting and posturing. Whats even more brilliant is how the purposeful inaction of the red majority was blamed repeatedly on Obama.

Thats why Code Blue's core mission is:

Rebuild a progressive voting majority in federal, state and local government

The fact is that the president and the executive branch of government have very little direct power over the day-to-day life of the average U.S. citizen. Our mayors, city councils, governors, state representatives and senators hold much more control over the laws that affect our everyday lives. Yet every four years, we work ourselves into a frenzy over one election and all those names down-ballot are an afterthought. 

This is where the real power in our government lies. Realizing this, many conservatives, like the Koch brothers, have been able to engineer a quiet takeover of our government by pouring money into the campaigns of red candidates and gerrymandering the district maps of the U.S. beyond recognition. This quiet takeover even has a name: Project Remap. Meanwhile, the public has been so enraptured the the roller-coaster ride of the national news cycle we didnt even notice or make an effort to fight back.

This needs to change and thats why Code Blue exists.