How to Fight Racism and Plutocracy in 2018

Tina Russell/Observer-Dispatch via AP

Voters leave the Parkway Center after voting on Election Day in Utica, New York

The most potent political force behind white supremacy in America is voter suppression, which takes place partly through voter suppression laws, partly by control of redistricting, partly by discouraging minority voters. The most effective way to fight it is by registering and mobilizing voters.

It’s all very well and good to shake your fist at Milo Yiannopoulos, Ann Coulter, Mike Cernovich, & Co., when they show up on campus, but that’s no more than a feel-good exercise. It brings an adrenaline rush, nothing more. What dries up the toxic flood of racist and plutocratic policy is winning elections.

That requires voter registration work and donations. Between yesterday and November 2018.

Take, for example, New York’s 19th Congressional District, which starts north of New York City and runs north and west to skirt Albany and its suburbs, which are majority Democratic. The district was set up that way to cram as many Democrats as possible into nearby districts outside of this one.

Still, the 19th is a winnable district. John Faso, the Republican incumbent, availing himself of billionaire hedge-fund donations, won by about 25,000 votes in 2016, out of 307,000 votes cast. Previously, before redistricting, the district was represented by Kirsten Gillibrand. It’s movable.

Even before the Republican revenge-on-blue-states bill was hammered into the teeth of New York taxpayers in the dark of night, it was movable. 

Almost 11 percent of the district’s population is black and Hispanic.

According to the group NY 19 Votes, as of 2016, more than 100,000 eligible voters were not registered in NY 19, and more than 200,000 registered voters didn’t vote in 2016.

New York state activists, here’s how to make the proverbial difference: Don’t idle away the hours planning to shout down fascists, whether neo- or paleo-. Leave aside the feel-good epiphanies. Don’t even bother debating at length whether it makes sense to talk to Trump voters, or what exactly constitutes a microaggression. Keep your eyes on the macroaggression: the long-running Republican effort to roll back the right to vote, the Second Reconstruction, the accomplishments of the civil rights movement, and to punish immigrant families.

There’s work to be done talking to—engaging and mobilizing—voters who need to know that their Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are at risk because of Republican House votes, and that their access to birth control and abortions is already at risk.

This is where democracy can be salvaged—out there in America.

Rubber, meet road.

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