Warning: This is a political message. But it’s a good one! And yes, there’s an ask at the end.
As you know, the Republicans have control of Congress. That’s largely because many House Republicans run in states with gerrymandered districts which are drawn to protect Republicans. In other words, a state’s voters might be 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, but because of the way the district lines are drawn, the state’s congressional delegation might be overwhelmingly Republican.
How can that happen? It happens because state legislatures draw the state’s district maps, even for federal elections. And that means state governments controlled by Republicans can draw districts that heavily favor Republicans. This strikes me as unfair and undemocratic.
So what to do about it? How can folks living in Seattle, Portland, LA, New York, or other “blue” parts of the country help flip the control of state legislatures in North Carolina, Virginia, or Pennsylvania? You can support Only If You Run—a fundraising organization that is targeting state legislative races in districts that can flip from Republican to Democrat. And if enough of those state seats flip, then when those states draw district maps following the 2020 census, the maps won’t be gerrymandered anymore; they’ll actually reflect the populations of the states.
I’m excited about this project for a number of reasons. Here are a few:
- First, living out in Seattle, I’ve felt powerless to effect change in places like North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, or other “purple” states. What am I supposed to do? Read up on individual candidates, do local research, and then donate to a small election in the hope that I’ve chosen wisely? Not likely. Only If You Run is committed to doing that work, and doing it well! If you donate, you’ll be confident that your money will go to good candidates in important races that can really make a difference.
- Second, political gerrymandering is terrible. It’s not good when Democrats do it and it’s not good when Republicans do it. Only If You Run does not support pro-Democrat gerrymandering! Rather, they are committed to candidates that oppose any drawing of districts for partisan advantage. So this is not a tit-for-tat or goose/gander organization. They’re actually trying to do good. They’re at the adult table.
- Third, Democrats need a better state bench. Too often, it seems Democrats look to the federal government for tomorrow’s leaders. But so much of what actually affects people’s lives is happening at the state level. Only If You Run encourages people to run locally, to help their communities, and to build a broad base of grassroots support for Democrats. Sure, we can donate millions of dollars to individual federal races. But think of how much more effective that money would be on a smaller level, in state races? Republican fundraisers have been focusing locally for years. We need to catch up.
- Fourth, I like the Only If You Run candidate criteria. (You can read them here.) They are identifying folks in winnable districts, with local support, who have created a small donor base, and who are committed to ending political gerrymandering. These are not outside folks from DC or NYC swooping in to “help” local districts. Instead, Only If You Run is supporting folks who are already doing the work locally—they just need some financial help.
So that’s it. I’m donating today. I invite you to do the same! But first, read more about the organization here. They’ve already got a slate of candidates, which you can read about here. And if you’ve already heard enough and just want to send them some money, you can do that here.