BUT THE LONG GAME WILL PRESERVE IT
By Gwen McKinney
Raphael Warnock’s victory closes out the 2022 Midterm Election season. Since the first special election in 2020, he has faced the voters five times in his bid to be Georgia’s first Black U.S. Senator. Georgia’s electoral landscape, in many ways ground-zero for what’s rumbling across the country, cannot be measured in a single election cycle, but affirms the importance of the long game.
Many razor-thin wins from Arizona to Pennsylvania were accompanied by unprecedented turnout and reshuffling of voting demographics and habits—young voters, urban voters, ticket-splitters and crossover suburban women. The net victory is a ground power of activism.
In Michigan where nearly 56 percent of voters supported the reproductive freedom ballot initiative, voters also delivered a trifecta that reelected the governor, attorney general and secretary of state and turned the tables on the GOP-dominated state legislature.
“This election was about people taking their future away from elected officials and politicos and putting it in their own hands,” says Tameka Ramsey, executive director of the Michigan Coalition on Black Civic Participation and convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable of Metro Detroit. “Despite what you hear, people have faith in government. Michiganders know what power looks like and it’s shaped by us.”
This year we launched Moving Messages with civic leaders who are determined to step up and make change. We asked Vanessa Fields, president of the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Organization for Women (Philly NOW), what’s next after the 2022 Midterm Elections.
The five days before the 2022 Midterm Elections Vanessa Fields, a labor and women’s rights organizer in Philadelphia, says a restless blitz of texting, phone banking, canvassing and conferring with GOTV partners reduced her sleep time to four hours per night.
Sleep deprivation was a small price for rejection of a gubernatorial candidate who financed the Capitol insurrection and a made-for-TV doctor whose lackluster performance helped flip a U.S. Senate seat. For the first time in recorded history—dating back to the 1800s—two Pennsylvania Democrats will sit in the U.S. Senate.
“This midterm was not electioneering as usual,” says Fields, president of the nonpartisan Philly NOW (National Organization for Women) and leader of AFSCME District Council 47 Retirees. “If we relied solely on traditional Democratic Party apparatus, a red tsunami would have landed here.”
In Florida where the “red wave” delivered landslide victories to most Republican incumbents, glimmers of hope and optimism still prevail.
“Don’t count out Florida,” insists Salandra Benton, executive director of the Florida Coalition on Black Civic Participation. “Wherever the people live is a battleground,”
Despite the challenges, Black turnout, usually single digits in midterm elections, was 11 percent. Youth voters between 18 to 29 increased by 30 percent.
The Black community showed up and turned out for a historic Midterm Election that defied pundits and predictions, breaking new ground in electoral activism. Meet members of our Sisters Civic Circle, sage advocates on the frontline pushing political empowerment where they live, work and thrive.
Helen Butler, of Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, expresses the importance of being ready and engaged for the upcoming election season.
Salandra Benton, of Florida Coalition on Black Civic Participation, gives her take on the participation of the younger generations this election season.
Vanessa Fields, of Philly NOW, highlights the importance of Black women in leadership.
Shanay Watson-Whittaker, of Michigan Voices, lets us know what happened this election season in Michigan.
Florida remains a bellwether state for the popularity of progressive policies, home to the 2018 ballot initiative that restored rights to 1.4 million formerly incarcerated voters and the 2020 referendum that approved a $15 minimum wage. This election cycle, by a commanding margin, Orange County approved a rent control ordinance. Victories like those are works in progress that can’t be contained or achieved in a single election cycle. Durable change is fueled by sustained advocacy.
The fruits of such victories are embodied in the election of Afro-Latino Maxwell Frost. The 25-year-old will be the youngest member of the House of Representatives and an icon for Gen-Z voters across the country. A survivor of gun violence, he has been active in the March for Our Lives movement.
People power is born—not from party, privilege or personality—but from community organizing that vests power in marginalized, the inspired, the courageous and the growing majority that is turning their aspirations into the policy that we need.