This article was previously published on The Bern Report.
In the maelstrom of national news it is often too easy to forget that there is more going on than whatever Congress, the President, the Supreme Court, and all the Presidential candidates are doing or saying. Progressives fall into this trap all too often just the same as anyone else. Whether we are easily duped into arguing about the latest scandal in politics or even into defending someone like Bernie from yet another round of establishment attacks, we are too preoccupied with those battles to get engaged in the more immediate – and arguably, more important – conversations affecting state and local elections. Citizens across the board need to remember that there is more to politics than just the national fights, and that is especially the case for progressives.
The year is 2019, not 2020, so while we can be forgiven in our advocacy for our respective preferred candidates for President, the primary focus of our political activism should be the plethora of local and state-level progressive candidates. These candidates today could give rise to the Congressional and Presidential contenders we see over the next twenty years, but they have to be given a chance to make a difference where people see it first: at home. Let’s take Bernie for instance. He would not even be anywhere near the leader of a working class revolution that he is today were it not for him taking local and state politics seriously in the early stages of (and throughout) his political career. Without “Mayor Sanders” there would have never been a “Congressman Sanders” or a “Senator Sanders” after that, and there certainly wouldn’t have been the possibility of a “President Sanders” being elected next year.
Like Bernie in the 1980s, there are countless working class champions across this country running for Mayor, City Council, School Board, State Legislators, and so on. Just as Bernie did in Burlington, these people are yearning to get to work standing with working people and giving a voice to voiceless citizens like the homeless and those attempting to escape the trap of recidivism. Bernie is a Presidential contender today because he built a long-standing and reliable track record of going to bat for the average man, woman, and child. It is our duty to help the next generation and beyond of this revolution get their foot in the door to help transform our entire system.
To accomplish the change we need in the long-term we have to be active now in more than just our petty arguments on social media about whatever the for-profit media wants us to obsess over today. Yes, the issues are worth taking a stand over, and it is a worthy use of SOME of your time to point out why a candidate like Bernie ought to be president, but we will all be failing the revolution we claim to represent if we ignore the real need for financial and other volunteer support for the amazing group of revolutionary contenders seeking to represent us in local and state government.
If you want to advance the cause and help transform this country with enhanced democracy and policies which make a difference – for everyone and not just the few -, then you need to find out which progressives are running for office near you. Contact their campaigns. Donate your time and money to their efforts, and help get them elected. Our time has come, but we have to make it happen. The Presidential Race will be waiting for our full attention after this year’s elections are through.