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Monday, April 24, 2017

A dispatch from the Resistance

by digby

Michelle Goldberg went down to the 6th district in Georgia to observe the Ossoff primary campaign. What she found was pretty interesting.  Remember, this is a district that hasn't voted Democratic since 1979.

[I]t’s not just Democratic spin to say that a remarkable political transformation is happening in Georgia’s 6th District: an affluent, highly educated suburb of Atlanta. Nearly overnight, progressive organizing has become the center of social life for thousands of previously disengaged people in the area. Whether or not the movement is enough to swing this election, Republicans may never again be able to win local offices here without a fight. And the intense activity in the 6th District is a sign of how the anti-Trump resistance is building a new, locally rooted progressive infrastructure nationwide.


Meanwhile, a tightly networked progressive movement has sprung up in the district with little help from national Democrats. Last year Elizabeth Murphy, a 35-year-old mother of three, wanted to get involved in politics to help stop Trump but said it was hard to figure out how. Progressive groups, she said, were “nonexistent here in Cobb County. There was no infrastructure.” That all changed once Trump was elected, horrifying many 6th District women. “Since Nov. 9, the fire and the energy has come into this area like I’ve never seen before,” Murphy said. Before the election, a typical Democratic Party meeting would draw 25 or 30 people. “They now have 400 to 500 people attending in one county. It’s incredible.” (Ossoff ultimately won 41 percent in the parts of Cobb that fall in the district, 8 points higher than the Democrat did this past fall and 1 point better than Clinton’s total.)

As Ossoff readily acknowledges, women are leading the progressive renaissance that made his near-victory possible. “This is a story about women in this community,” he said in his election night speech. “Those strong and determined women who have picked us all up, who are carrying us forward, who are going to carry us to victory tonight or in June.” Women lead the local Indivisible chapter. In March, two women formed a women’s group, called Pave It Blue, devoted to running progressive candidates in local races—contests where, in the past, Republicans often ran unopposed. A private, invite-only Facebook group called Liberal Moms of Roswell and Cobb, or LMRC, has swelled to 1,700 members. You see LMRC magnets on cars and minivans all over town, and its members have developed a ritual: When they come across an LMRC decal on a parked car, they turn it upside-down, so when the driver returns, she’ll know a friend was there.

A first-time candidate and LMRC member named Christine Triebsch ran for the state Senate seat vacated by one of the Republican candidates in Tuesday’s congressional election. Like Ossoff, she came in first and will proceed to a runoff.

This surge of progressive activity marks a social sea change in an area when many Democrats said they once kept their political sympathies quiet, assuming they were alone among their conservative neighbors. “I felt like I was a closeted Democrat,” said Rebecca Sandberg, 43, who I met on Monday as she stood with a cluster of other women holding Ossoff signs near a busy intersection. “The label ‘liberal’ always seemed like a bad thing. And now I’m realizing, the more we have this community, that it’s actually a good thing. Being surrounded by all of these ladies in this area—and men, too—has really empowered me to be more involved.” She’d joined Pave It Blue and become a precinct captain for the Ossoff campaign.

These newly minted progressive activists are drawing on the organizing skills they’ve learned in the PTA and the ties they’ve forged to each other as parents. I was introduced to Saravanan by Tricia Madden, 39, who helped coordinate LMRC volunteers for Ossoff; they knew each other because their kids went to preschool together. “The woman that’s in charge of the school auction and the PTA knows the room mom, [who] is also the woman that’s in charge of the homeowners association,” said Madden. “Those are also the people who are going to volunteer. This is years and years of built-up relationships. You can’t replicate that.”

I don't know where these mostly middle aged and older women fit in the ideological mosaic of the Democratic party. I'm sure we'll find out and it will likely be cause for much handwringing and disagreement. This is, after all, the Democratic party. But whether or not all these women pass the progressive litmus tests, there is no denying that this is authentic grassroots organizing. And it has sprung out of a very large faction of the public for whom this last election was an affront to their very beings.

That pig in the White House is so insulting to millions of women that they simply can't live with themselves if they don't do something to fight back. This movement isn't sexy but then doing the grunt work to get things done rarely is. These people are serious and they aren't waiting to be led by anyone.