Georgia on my Mind
After three months of organizing while facing internet outages, new cameras and more, our Vice President of Political Engagement, David Aldridge, shares his thoughts on the results of the Georgia Special Election. And where Democrats need to go from here.
I need to start by being honest.
This is a difficult thing to write.
Many of us within the United Democratic Club poured our very essence into the Georgia Special Election over the past three months. Through rain, wind, sun, cold, heat, all of it, we dedicated hours of our lives to connecting with voters from across the country in the pursuit of an ever more perfect union. Organizing isn’t easy work, it’s rewarding but it’s demanding and stressful too. It’s constantly asking people to do things and putting out never-ending fires.
This campaign in itself was a Herculean effort and caught the imagination of hundreds across the city. Together, we demonstrated that we can rise above our own local disputes to unite for the greater purpose of fighting for our very country.
And after all that, I would be lying to you if I said that this loss didn’t hurt.
Others smarter and wiser than I can publicly deliberate the message, the candidate, and the methodology of the Ossoff campaign.
But there is one thing we must remember. These debates, while important, are a double-edged sword. Yes, we must refine a message for our party that connects with Americans across the country. But if we do not approach these conversations with the respectful and considerate tone they require, it will only lead to is a divided party, bitter feelings, and an inescapable future “in the wilderness” as the pundits put it. A divided people is a people far easier to rule.
At the end of the day, I’m a pragmatist and here’s what I know:
- James Thompson earned 47.5% of the vote in a district that was a +27 R 2016 Presidential seat.
- Rob Quist earned 44% of the vote in a district that was a +31 R 2016 Presidential seat.
- Archie Parnell 48% of the vote in a district that was a +20 R 2016 Presidential seat.
- Jon Ossoff earned 48% of the vote in a district that was a +25 R 2016 Presidential seat.
When the current administration selected the members of their Cabinet, part of their calculus was to not open up “vulnerable” seats of Congress. The last thing any President wants is to put their party’s majority in the slightest bit of jeopardy, so they went deep into the safest Republican territory to make their picks.
In these special elections, we are and have been playing on their turf. And sure, they’re making us fight for every inch of progress, but make no doubt, look at the numbers above … we are making progress. Look, I’m not going to sugarcoat these defeats as “moral victories,” though they are. Because I know those words ring hollow to all of you who gave up your Saturdays and your Sundays to fight for our cause. I know because I feel the same.
But here’s the thing. If we let this loss demoralize us, prevent us from fighting as hard as have, or paralyze ourselves into an endless inner party struggle where we spend as much time attacking our own leaders, allies and institutions as we do protesting the very real threats to our country, then we’ve lost for good. Universal health care will be lost, immigration reform will forever be a dream, and our planet will bake under an ever intensifying lack of action on climate change.
We can’t let that happen. We won’t let that happen. We’re going to learn our lessons, make adjustments, and apply all of these learnings to districts that are within our reach and in our backyard. And make no mistake … we’re going to win.
The House is still ours to take. But it’s up to us to take it.
The world is swirling with opinions and hot takes right now. No doubt you have your own. But in the face of so much distraction, and so much division, it’s more important than ever that we stay united. United Democrats.
In 1980, the Democratic party was consumed by a bitter primary process, not too unlike our own in 2016. When he finally conceded, the great liberal lion Ted Kennedy took the stage at the convention to bring a close to the heated race, and he said the following “may it be said that we kept the faith. May it be said that we found our faith again.”
Faith is what we need now. Faith in ourselves and our mission. That if we stay true to our values and each other, we can weather this storm.
In that same speech, Ted Kennedy made one last statement. One that has guided me through all the many stages of my life, and it applies today as much as ever.
“The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”
Let us continue the work. Let us endure our cause. Let us live our hope. Let us dream our dream.
Thank you for all you do.