There’s no better way to kick off an article about leading progressive movements than to talk about Indivisible, which started in 2016 as a reaction to the election of Donald Trump. Former Congressional staffers and progressive elected officials banded together to provide resources to a grassroots movement to resist the President’s right-wing agenda.
Their methods modeled the local activist efforts of far-right Tea Party Movement, which stifled the Obama administration through obstructionism and applied political pressure to make incumbent Republicans more conservative. They believed that adopting these strategies could revitalize the Left and impede the Trump administration.
Since getting started, Indivisible has organized local chapters in most major population centers for grassroots outreach and advocacy to their members of Congress. Indivisible offers an instruction manual to progressive organizers and encourages them to take action and protest using high efficacy, high visibility methods. One of the group’s successes is recruiting and encouraging a record number of women to run for office, in connection with groups like She Should Run (also on this list!). A major flashpoint for the Indivisible movement was addressing Donald Trump’s immigration policy. In the fight to protect the DACA children in early 2018, Indivisible organized protests around the United States and Washington DC directed aggressively at both Republican and Democratic Congressmen who supported Trump’s immigration agenda.
Some critics say that the Indivisible movement doesn’t have the impact that the Tea Party once had. These critics don’t realize that Indivisible is just getting started. The movement is growing and has as many as 3800 local groups which are bringing together grassroots supporters to resist the presidency of Donald Trump and support Democrats (like Doug Jones!) and progressives who are fighting for a more positive vision for the United States.
Swing Left was founded by a group of people outside of the political bubble: a writer, a teacher, and a brand strategist. With fresh perspectives, they brainstormed how progressives could win in 2018. They formed Swing Left to amplify Democratic efforts to flip the House of Representatives.
The group’s mission is to flip the House of Representatives by targeting 70 swing districts where elections were decided by 15 percent or less. During the 2018 midterms, Democrats only need to flip 24 Republican-held House seats to gain control. According to Swing Left, House races typically receive less attention, so donations, volunteering, and grassroots advocacy are much more impactful. By organizing locally, both veteran organizers and newly-inspired progressives can make a big difference.
Swing Left chapters operate parallel to official campaigns with tools and resources to help progressive win primaries and general elections. These chapters are all-volunteer organizations! They’re all around the country, too.
The Democrats lost the local approach in the 2016 federal elections. Swing Left members hope this new approach can add to the infrastructure for progressive and Democratic candidates that could win control of the House in 2018.
You could say that Flippable is like Swing Left for state-level candidates, or that Swing Left is like Flippable for House candidates. Either way, give credit where credit is due! Both organizations have a similar mindset about approaching the 2018 midterm elections with a focus on grassroots activism.
Flippable believes that progressive change starts at the state and local levels. It makes sense. Over the past ten years, Republicans dominated local and state politics. They used control of state legislatures to redraw districts of national seats in their favor. These gerrymandered districts created unfair elections, where Democrats could win statewide popular votes but miraculously win no House seats.
Flippable has aggressive plans to help targeted candidates win 100 seats in 2018. This goal comes after Flippable had great success in the 2017 elections in states like Virginia and Washington. Big elections like Ralph Northam for Governor, Phil Murphy for Governor and even Doug Jones for Alabama Senate stole the headlines. The bigger 2017 surprise was the solid red Virginia House of Delegates nearly turning blue after incredibly close local races.
The centerpiece of Flippable strategy is the Flippable Fund, a political action committee where monthly contributions go to the state races which need the money most. These are races where small donor money goes far, as state legislature races are much smaller than even House races. After joining the Flippable Fund as a recurring donor, these members receive access to volunteer opportunities and metric-based progress reports. Flippable highlights the candidates they support on their home page. Currently, they’re highlighting three of the most “flippable” states for 2018: Texas, Pennsylvania, and Florida.
She Should Run is a non-partisan organization which works to close the gender gap in American politics. In the 2017 Congress, women made up 19.6% of Congress: 21% of the United States Senate and 19.3% of the House of Representatives. She Should Run is having an impact. A record number of women are running for office in 2018.
The organization achieved this success by providing a toolkit geared towards potential female candidates. Once these candidates choose to run, they have access to a network of resources provided by She Should Run. In the era of the Trump presidency and #MeToo movement, there’s a great opportunity for women (both Democrats and Republicans) to seize upon new political motivation driven by to win primary and general elections across-the-board. One thing we are looking out for is She Should Run’s campaign to get 250,000 female candidates running for the 500,000 elected offices in the United States at the local, state, and federal level.
Another frontier that we think she should run could explore is working to close the gender gap in campaign management and executive positions in campaign committees. Both candidates and their campaign staff should strive for gender equality. She Should Run is already one of the most impactful organizations of the 2018 midterms, and we’re excited to see the organization grow throughout the year.
It’s hard being a Democrat in a red state. Sister District is an organization working to flip competitive state legislature seats in Republican-dominated states by harnessing the energy of deep blue Democratic areas, which don’t have competitive races. Sister District connects Democrats in deep red areas with Democrats in deep blue areas. Once a partnership is formed, they start collaborative grassroots efforts: phone banking, postcard writing, text-banking, canvassing trips, and data and research support. This strategy keeps blue-district Dems busy and keep winning spirits high for red-district Dems.
Similar to Flippable, Sister District focuses on local state races, given the impact that extra support can have. They also hope to “lead from behind” to defeat Republican-slanted gerrymanders nationwide.
Sister District ran their program in 15 races during the 2017 election, and according to their website, they succeeded in 14 of 15 races. Although Sister District is only targeting two races for 2018, we think that the organization can have a huge impact as they scale up and look to be a driving grassroots force in 2018 Democratic campaign.
There’s no way around it: The Democrats have a fundraising problem. It Starts Today offers an option for small donors to avoid donor politics and help all Democrats succeed.
After the 2016 election, many Democrats have had difficulties recruiting small donors. One reason for this is the perception of Democratic campaign committees– from local Democratic parties to the DNC. Donors are frustrated with the way Democrats target competitive races and how some candidates get ignored.
It Starts Today is a streamlined fundraising platform which evenly splits its donations among all Democratic candidates. Even candidates in red districts get a fair share of money and support. With that support, they can challenge and win races that might not get the state or national spotlight.
It Starts Today and other platforms like it rely on a subscription-based method. Donors pay monthly payments (set-it and forget-it) and follow the impact of their donations throughout the election cycle. Most donors will set a subscription until election day and see their donations help Democratic candidates win all year.
Keep an eye on It Starts Today’s Missouri-specific project that distributes funding to down-ticket races. This platform could be crucial to defending Senator Claire McCaskill and carrying other Democrats to victory alongside the Senate race. We expect that a new focus on winning every seat (even unlikely seats) will support the Democratic party’s midterm momentum.