The case for hope
By Leah Greenberg, Indivisible co-founder
It’s easy to feel discouraged by the last few months. We witnessed the greatest rollback on our rights by the Supreme Court in our lifetimes, we face economic instability and looming threats to our democracy, and we’ve suffered endless coverage and hot takes about Democrats’ gloomy prospects this November. I’ve heard from too many in Washington and around the country who feel like we’ve already lost the election.
Well, we here at Indivisible don’t think it’s that simple. We believe there is reason for hope (and not just because of yesterday’s incredible news from Mar-a-Lago). So I want to share with you why I’m optimistic about November, and you should be too.
1. The vibe is shifting.
This spring, the headlines were all about Democratic fecklessness. This summer, the headlines are about Republican MAGA extremism. Why the change? It’s about the Dobbs decision and its horrific human consequences. It’s about the January 6th hearings and the horror of a violent, criminal conspiracy to sabotage our elections. It’s about Uvalde and the lockstep Republican support for AR-15s. It’s about the criminalization of gender-affirming care and the persecution of trans youth and their families. It’s about the threat to contraception, marriage equality, and more.
An emboldened Republican party is overreaching. The consequences are terrifying for all of us. But at the same time, overreach invites a reaction. Don’t believe me? Just look at Kansas, where pro-reproductive freedom forces beat a forced birth ballot initiative by a STUNNING, presidential-turnout-level margin. If we can make this election about MAGA extremism and our freedoms under threat, we will win.
That brings me to my second reason for hope…
2. The Republican party is not sending its best.
For several months, voters have been comparing Democrats to some hypothetical “other.” Now, as the primaries wrap up, voters will be comparing Democrats to real, live, Republican candidates. And those candidates range from ridiculous to terrifying.
From Herschel Walker in Georgia to JD Vance in Ohio to Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania, Donald Trump’s endorsed Senate candidates are uniformly, hilariously bad at running for office. They say awful, ridiculous stuff. They go on month-long vacations instead of campaigning. They’re struggling to raise money. In at least one case, they don’t even live in the damn state they’re running to represent (hi, Dr. Oz!).
And that’s just the Senate. The Republicans who are winning key gubernatorial primaries are flat-out frightening. From insurrectionist Doug Mastriano of Pennsylvania to Tudor Dixon of Michigan (who proudly supports forced pregnancy for 14-year-olds) to Trumpist Kari Lake of Arizona, Republicans are nominating MAGA extremists who are bad fits for purple states — and polls suggest that voters are noticing.
Party ID and macro political factors matter a lot in midterms, but that doesn’t mean you can run literally anyone. Republican primary voters appear to have forgotten this lesson. But we’ve got three months to make sure voters are very, very clear on how terrible these people really are.
And with every step the Republicans take towards this wretched vision of the future, they leave more people behind. We’re going to find those people and invite them into our coalition. And we’re going to reach out to the low-propensity voters — the ones who agree with us but don’t usually vote in midterms or don’t have a ton of faith in the system — and make sure they know what’s at stake. You put those folks together, and you have a winning anti-MAGA coalition.
3. The Democrats are getting their mojo back.
The mood in Washington is shifting. The Senate has passed the Inflation Reduction Action, which will raise taxes on the rich while making the single largest investment in fighting the climate crisis in American history (make sure to call your representative now to get it over the finish line!). Voters are looking back at the last year — infrastructure, gun violence prevention, record employment and noticing that a Democratic trifecta is actually solving problems — while Republicans are merrily creating new ones.
On the campaign side, we’re also in the driver’s seat. From Raphael Warnock to Mark Kelly to John Fetterman to Mandela Barnes, we’ve got great candidates. Democratic House and Senate candidates are swamping their Republican opponents in grassroots fundraising. We’re hearing from Indivisible groups who’ve seen major influxes for new volunteers angry about Dobbs and ready to fight back. When you’re actually looking at the facts on the ground, the evidence of an “enthusiasm gap” all but vanishes.
In short, Democrats are getting in formation, while Republicans are showing their whole ass to the American people.
OK, so what do we do?
Let’s be clear: these changes didn’t happen on their own. Democrats are picking up the fight BECAUSE movements like ours are demanding it. Across the country, from Arizona to Pennsylvania, Iowa to California, Minnesota to Oregon, Indivisibles are spreading the message that the MAGA GOP cannot be trusted with power, and it will take all of us to defeat them at the ballot box. Even top pollsters are starting to see the shift.
We can’t slow down now. We’ve got big plans for the next 90-odd days:
- We’re running a group-centered digital voter contact plan to reach millions of voters. We’re working directly with Indivisible groups nationwide to shape the environment and the messaging, and ensure that the top concern in voters’ minds is the threat of MAGA extremism.
- We’re getting press coverage — national, local and everything in between! We’ll work with Indivisible groups to birddog candidates and place stories about them. We’ll flood districts with “wanted” signs for criminal insurrectionists and other creative tactics. We’ll spread the word on social, digital, and relational channels.
- We’re mobilizing to knock on thousands of doors. We kicked off our first national Weekend of Action last week, with more than 100 events in communities across the country. And we’re planning to go even bigger next month to kickstart our general election work with events, canvassing, postcarding and more.
- We’re launching pilot programs to go on offense in key battleground states. We’re working directly with local Indivisible groups in Pennsylvania and Arizona to place ads, put up billboards and signs, and flood districts with earned media about the threat of MAGA extremism.
- We’re sending up to $1,500 grants to statewide networks of Indivisibles to use to recruit volunteers, knock doors, and support candidates.
It’s all happening under Indivisible’s Give No Ground program, our national electoral plan this cycle to meet the moment and defeat the GOP. Our $3.3 million plan is comprehensive, ambitious, and allows our network to do what we do best: grassroots organizing. But right now, we’re facing a budget crunch.
We want to provide resources to as many races and groups as we can, but with our current fundraising projections, it may not be possible. Don’t misunderstand me: we will still run our programming, but we may need to make some tough decisions and cut back in some areas. That’s not a risk I want to take, not when the tide is just starting to turn.
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