Your Ultimate Guide to 2020
The latest big Democratic Presidential debate is only a few hours behind us, but there’s one thing on everyone’s mind here at IamMoi. No, we’re not cashing out on our bets of who had the best one-liner, or debating the curveball questions that the candidates were thrown. We aren’t even thinking about the impeachment inquiry that has been dominating this week’s headlines (ok, some of us are). For the purposes of this blog post, we're all-consumed in thinking about down-ballot, state and local races.
I know what you’re thinking. The Presidential race is just so much more exciting. It’s got drama, heartbreak and comedy, all in high definition. It’s on the major networks! We can watch Rachel Maddow moderate – we LOVE Maddow! And isn’t getting rid of Trump our biggest goal as we look forward to 2020?
Here’s the hard truth of it. 2020 is about so much more than just defeating the current occupant of the White House. And unless you are voting from one of a handful of swing-states, your vote for President is a relatively tiny drop in the bucket. Casting your ballot for your down-ballot candidates is the moment that your vote matters the most. THESE are the races that your volunteering, your donating, and your community organizing matter the most. “But still,” you say, in our imaginary conversation with you, “priority number one is defeating Trump. And then we can focus on that other stuff.” You’d say that, but you’d be wrong. Keep reading to find out how your state and local governments shape the policies that you care about.
State legislatures have control over Congressional boundaries, a fact that the other side has been using to rig elections for nearly a decade. In 2010, conservative strategist Karl Rove published his plan to win state legislative majorities throughout the country. Rove’s column in the Wall Street Journal did not mince words – “He who controls redistricting can control Congress.” The Republicans capitalized on this strategy so effectively that in 2012, 51% of Pennsylvania voters cast their ballots for Democratic candidates, but those candidates only won 28% of the seats in the legislature. State legislators get to choose not just their voters, but the voters who elect our Congressional Representatives as well. These 2010-era gerrymandered districting lines still exist today. Because the census will be in 2020, this year’s election will determine who gets to draw -- or re-draw -- the boundaries that will affect us for the next decade.
- Voting Rights
If you care about voting rights, state legislatures are the new battleground. With a state legislature that supports access to the ballot, officials can implement early voting, no-excuse absentee ballot initiatives, and more. On the contrary, if a state legislature seeks to restrict voting rights, they have the power to implement restrictive voter ID laws, close down polling places, or purge voter rolls and essentially rig elections. We’re looking at you, Brian Kemp! Voting rights have implications that affect more than just state and local elections. The act of ensuring that all citizens have the right to vote, or restricting those Constitutional freedoms, have electoral implications that include Presidential elections.
- Women’s Health
Everyone reading this likely knows that the United States Supreme Court is stacked with a Conservative majority of anti-choice judges. However, do you know where your local state representative stands on women’s health? This is just as important, if not more important. Your state representative, state senator, and governor are the ones who will decide if the residents in your state will have the ability to access reproductive care. Pro-choice majority state legislatures can ensure Planned Parenthood funding and protect reproductive rights. Or, they can do the opposite. A number of states, like Missouri and Georgia, have passed abortion bans this year. Make no mistake, Trump and the Supreme Court did not sign these bills into law. These decisions went through the state legislatures and were signed by the governor. With an anti-choice Supreme Court majority, your local and state races are more important than ever. The unequivocal truth is this: if Roe v. Wade is overturned, access to safe and legal abortion will be the decision of your state legislature.
- Climate Change
In the face of mounting and undeniable evidence by the scientific community, our Federal Government has chosen to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, appoint special interests executives to leadership positions in our environmental agencies, and roll back regulations that we desperately need. It can be difficult to feel hopeful about the future of the planet. However, helping elect local officials who prioritize the planet and humanity’s future is one of the boldest acts of optimism that can actually make a difference. City councils and state legislatures have the power to independently abide by the standards set by the Paris Climate Agreement. They can propose and implement solutions that meet the urgency of the moment, or they can join ranks with Federal Government and wreak havoc on our planet. The choice, local voter, is entirely yours.
Family separation does not just happen at the southern border – it occurs in so many homes where multiples members of a single family have varying immigration status. Do you want to live in a community that ensures that families can live together, free from the fear of unjust deportation? Here’s the deal. You’ve probably heard the term “sanctuary city”, but what does it mean? In these local jurisdictions, police will not comply with an ICE warrant if the subject of the warrant has not committed a serious crime. Sanctuary cities and states don’t just recognize and act upon our values of shared humanity; they are also safer for it. Immigrants who live in the United States without documentation are less likely to commit crimes than the general population, and counties that do not comply with ICE requests experience fewer crimes that those who do. In addition, in municipalities, counties, or states who cooperate with ICE, local law enforcement is less successful in their criminal investigations, as potential witnesses and victims are less likely to come forward. Do you want to live in a city, county, or state that governs with compassion and values the safety and security of ALL its inhabitants? Vote your values at the state and local level.
- Gun Control
What are your views on gun safety measures? Do you believe that a permit should be required in the purchase of a gun? Are you in favor of laws ensuring the registration of firearms? Are you concerned about open carry laws? Do you believe in universal background checks? Closing the gun-show loophole? How about magazine size restriction? Banning bump stocks? Ghost guns? Semi-automatic weapons? Your State Legislature makes these decisions in the state where you live. If you care about gun safety, vote like it.
- And more!
States can set a $15/hour minimum wage; protect programs like Obamacare, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Politics is everything, and all politics is local.
You don’t have to tweet out your anger and hopelessness in the face of every Trump Administration policy. One of the most effective ways to #RESIST against the cruelty of the federal government is through local and state governing bodies. Find out who represents you at the state and local level with Ballotpedia. If you don’t like what you see, you can do something about it. Visit VoteSaveAmerica.com to find out where you can volunteer, donate, and vote in your local elections. If you can’t find a local candidate to support, consider raising your hand to run! You can serve your community in a way that makes a positive impact in our society. We’re rooting for you!