By Juven Jacob
In the 2010 elections, the Republicans seared the fate of the Democratic party for at least a decade. Three words: United States Census. Not only did the Republicans gain 63 seats to take over the U.S. House of Representatives, equally as important they took control of 29 of the 50 state governorships, and they did something incredible — for the first time in American history, they won 680 legislative seats giving them control of 26 state legislatures.
Remember those three words? The United States Census is mandated by the Constitution to allocate representatives among the states. Once the census is complete, the data is given to the states where the legislature typically draws the lines for both the state and federal elections. The Republicans having just won control, gerrymandered themselves into power — locking out the Democratic party. They drew the lines to ensure republican victories by just enough, while packing the democratic voters into large swaths. For example, in the 2012 presidential election, although Democrats won 1.5 million more votes in the U.S. House, the Republicans maintained the third largest majority in the house since the 1920s.
In 2018, the Democrats need to gain 23 seats in the U.S. House to regain control of the chamber, but it will not be easy. Not only do the candidates have to compete against unfair district lines, the Republicans have passed a slew of voter suppression bills into law that disproportionately affects minorities and young voters with the combination of purging the voter rolls, disenfranchising millions of Americans from their constitutional right.
What we must remember is that the state congressional races are just as important as the federal. Out of the 99 state chambers across the nation, Republicans control 66 of them. Nearly 800 legislative seats are up for grabs in 2018. Victories in just 16 seats would flip 8 chambers. And the track record thus far is not to be discounted. Democrats so far have flipped 44 state legislative seats from red to blue.
The states are called the laboratories of democracy for a reason. Many state laws are implemented on the federal level. Where we see democratic control, we see progressive policies that help worker's rights against corporations and big businesses, banning conversion therapy, expanding Medicaid, sensible gun reform, access to healthcare, women's rights, automatic voter registration, earning sick leave, expanding access to higher education. These progressive policies are supported by a vast majority of Americans.
If the Democrats take over state legislative chambers in 2018 and expand on those in 2020, we hold the power to draw the maps after the 2020 presidential election. And it would make it a trifecta if we do this while retaking the presidency.
There are three key messages that every single Democrat around the country should run on: Healthcare, higher wages, and stopping the Republican corruption. Because the Republicans will tell you they don't believe in government. But they do. They believe in government to help the wealthy and corporations and that is all. The rest of you are on your own.
Well in the words of a 2012 Democratic convention speech: We don't run this country for corporations, we run it for the people.