Four Steps to Turning Kennedy’s Retirement into Democratic Victories

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy opened a political Pandora’s box this week by announcing his retirement. This could be good for Democrats in November — but only if we make it so. With four months to go, here are four steps to turn that sucker punch announcement into a win in November.

Step 1: Don’t Be Distracted or Divided

Within minutes of Kennedy’s announcement, my Facebook and Twitter feeds filled with messages of exasperated doom and gut-wrenching fear from my progressive friends. Because that’s what we do on the left. And we’re really, really good at it.

“Thanks, Jill Stein.”

“To all those who didn’t vote or voted for Bernie/Stein… this one’s on you! #ButHerEmails”

“If you didn’t vote in ’16, you have no right to complain now.”

In part, this is what we’ve been trained to do. When we get hit with a setback, we turn on each other, start the blame game, then crawl into the fetal position. And that’s how our opponents win. We have the numbers on our side, which is why they keep trying to rig the system to keep us out of power.

But the rules of the game are changing and WAY more is at stake. (Hey, Roe v. Wade.) We can no longer fall into this trap. So, take a quick moment to freak out, then turn off “The Handmaid’s Tale” and get back in the fight!

Step 2: Fight Today’s Fight…

How many times since 2016 have you wished we had done more and our leaders had been bolder in rejecting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) unprecedented move to block President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court?

Well now’s your chance to make up for it. We know what Tricky Mitch will do; he will continue to do everything in his power to stack the courts. But we can stop him by mounting the type of pressure that caused GOP Sens. Collins (ME), McCain (AZ), and Murkowski (AK) to join every Democratic Senator in killing the ACA repeal bill.

So, who do you know in Maine, Arizona, and Alaska? And Indiana, North Dakota, and West Virginia? And Tennessee! Contact them and ask them to call their Senators to urge them to apply the same “McConnell rule” and delay a vote until January 2019.

For more, read Sarah Thankam Mathews’ “This Is What You Do About The Supreme Court.”

How old will you be in 2055? If Republicans get their way and fill this vacant seat, that’s about the time that this nominee would likely step down. Now ask yourself again what you will do to fight today’s fight.

Step 3: …While Preparing for November

If we turn out our base in 2018, we can not only protect the ten US Senate seats in states that Trump won, but we can flip the Senate AND the House. The numbers are on our side IF we stay united and focused on what matters most: taking back power at every level of government.

As EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock recently reminded me, you don’t get psyched up about a big game by gathering on the sidelines and thinking you’ll try your best but probably come up short. You play to win. And win big!

The best polls are on election day — just look at the 44 state legislative seats that have flipped from red to blue since Trump’s inauguration — and all signs point to huge wins if we stay focused and go big. Here’s what I want the headlines to say on November 7, 2018:

· Democrats Flip US Senate and House!

· Record Turnout Elects Dem Govs and State Legislatures!

· Historic Wins for Women, People of Color!

· Voters Decisively Reject Trump / GOP Politics!

This is 100% possible. Don’t believe me? Ask Doug Jones or Rebecca Dallet or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Reminder: Trump isn’t up in 2018. This is the REPUBLICAN way of governing. Trump will want to take all the heat because he knows 2020 is a lightyear away, but don’t fall for it. We need to hold accountable every Republican for the Tax Scam, and kids in cages, and attacks on the poor and middle class, and every divisive, racist, homophobic policy that is ruining lives and hollowing out the soul of our country.

As David Mixner recently wrote: “Failing on November 6 (just four months away) will mean that free elections in 2020 may be unlikely and our democracy could end. That is not hyperbole. We don’t get a rerun after that date.”

Step 4: Help Each Other Stay Inspired and Engaged

The cliché is true: this is a marathon. Our opponents have a long game (read this) and clear incentives (see also: billions just given away to the ultra-rich and corporations). We need to stay inspired and not get burnt out.

We’re in this together, my friends. We need to support one another to get through this dark moment together. Our country and world are better with every protest organized, every dollar donated, and, most importantly, every vote cast.

As Harvey Milk used to say “You gotta give them hope.” So, find your source of inspiration, stay focused on what matters, and keep pushing forward. When we do this, we will bring about historic victories on November 6th that will be talked about for generations to come.

Chris Cormier Maggiano, President and Founder of Cormier & Company, serves as a political strategist and donor advisor.

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