Political Opportunity Knocks

MSG: Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during the Iowa caucuses at the Seven Flags Event Center in Clive,
MSG: Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during the Iowa caucuses at the Seven Flags Event Center in Clive, Iowa February 1, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

Written with Helen A Berger, PhD, resident scholar at the Women's Studies Research Center at Brandeis University and author of A Community of Witches.

Presidential politics getting you down? Are you feeling powerless, but you still want to make a change? Last week, even before Trump was the presumptive Republican nominee we provided six steps to starting the revolution, but what we missed was that it might be easier than we had thought.

I just voted in my town election. It is one of the largest towns in the county; I was number 36 to vote after the morning rush. One-hundred and fourteen people total had voted half an hour prior to the polls closing, and there was absolutely nobody in line waiting to vote. The precinct has 2,211 registered voters, but only 118 came to the polls. That's fewer people than came to my friend's wedding! In the precinct with the largest turnout, only 370 people voted, which was 19 per cent of registered voters.

In Wyoming, 280 people determined the distribution of 14 delegates between Bernie and Hillary. If distributed equally among congressional districts, that would mean that twenty people selected each delegate. Bernie's 14-point lead only required 34 more voters than Hillary. Both of these examples say to me that there is real opportunity for you to make a difference. In some states you could have attended the caucus in your community and been one of the few people that changes the outcome of a primary. You could have run for any one of the offices that were on the ballot in my community, gathered all your buddies, and gotten elected.

What's more, in my town we voted for 19 positions, including constables, school board members, trustees of the public library, town meeting members, housing authority board members, and Selectmen. In this case, there was no salary attached to any of these positions, but sometimes there is. There was no opposition for any position. That, of course, is part of the reason why there was such a low turnout. But, sadly, I've been to many elections with plenty of competition and low turnout, as we saw in the Wyoming Democratic caucus. The fact that there was no opposition again yells out to me opportunity. You could have been a loyal opposition; you could have challenged the policies of every single office holder on that ballot.

All you needed to do was find out what each one of these positions actually controls. You might be surprised with the power that, for example, a public library trustee has to influence policy. You then get every single one of your friends to vote: that means your nursery school playmates, your elementary school classmates, your high school pals, and anyone you've ever been on a team with. Ask each one of them to go on social media and ask others in the community to vote for you; vote for the revolution. That's all it would take to get out the vote and you would have won. You could be the one making the decisions and beginning the process of moving up in electoral politics.

The Democratic nominee is going to be decided in the next two months. Some will get their first choice, some won't. That is how elections work. But either way, those of us who are progressives need to roll up our sleeves and get to work, not just to make sure that there will not be a president who has won the endorsement of the KKK, but that we claim back our power--local community by local community. Then we can do the work necessary to move our country in the direction we know it needs to move in. Much change happens on the local level, which influences national politics in surprising ways.

When the Democratic nominee is finally decided, please go out and find yourself a role in the political process. Don't give up. When the going gets tough, the tough get going and we need all you idealists to join the ranks of those making public policy. Your idealism will probably get tarnished by reality, but you will be able to bring about some of the changes you so fervently desire.

Running for office will have to wait a year, so the first thing you need to do is to work for the Democratic nominee for President of the United States of America. No, it is not okay to say,"I won't vote" or "I'll vote for Trump because there is no real difference."

Let's be clear: the bottom line is that whether your primary candidate wins or loses the nomination, we must defeat Trump. That will only happen by voting for the Democratic nominee.