This is a short outline of our strategy and rationale behind it.
- The presidential elections are far away. This country will be damaged (already is), and the urgent task is to minimize the harm. Waiting for the next cycle, with big campaign to align with is impractical. We need to act now.
- Political routes available to us is to impact and inform our local members of Congress. They can seriously slow down the reactionary plans of the current regime.
- Here we have two Democratic senators and one Republican Representative. We will support our Senators, correct their actions as needed, but most of our effort should be directed to target our Representative, Rodney Davis.
- Our Congressional District is safely Republican (last election gave Davis 60% of the vote). However, we believe that his fundamentals are not strong, and that he can be weakened, distracted or forced to deviate from the GOP line.
- The District IL13 consists of 3 Metro areas – Champaign-Urbana, Springfield and Decatur, and a few relatively sparsely populated counties. Outside of the towns, the population tend to be poor. That means heavy dependence of government programs, in particular on the Medicaid expansion, disability benefits, Social Security. Towns themselves tend to be liberal.
- This mix suggests that focussing on the wedge issues, especially those where the economic impact of the “federal overreach” will be very pronounced, might seriously undermine the conservative base support for the GOP incumbent (and candidates).
- Specifically, rolling back the Medicaid expansion will affect 20-25,000 people in the district; Social Security privatization proposals would be hugely unpopular, and looming layoffs in the thousand in the District many hospitals, – all of these issues can and should be exploited to undermine local support for any GOP politician.
- With his re-election campaign still remote, we need to challenge Rep. Davis at each opportunity, forcing him to take stands on the economic issues – those we mentioned, or others yet to emerge. These stands will be very damaging in just a few months from now.
- We should avoid cultural fights, however reactionary the causes advanced by the current regime and the Congress are. We will be losing any battle for the people of “Red America” of Southern Illinois advocating for minority issues, reasonable foreign policy, global challenges. Hence, we need to avoid starting these discussions in this particular fight.
- And we should avoid the temptation to bring Trump and his coterie into the picture. Yes, Trump is an embodiment of vulgarity, yes, Bannon is revolting, and no – we need not discuss them with the downstate voters. Cultural battles take time, and we do not have it. Economic damage will be real enough, and we need to exploit it to stop it.
These simple considerations dictate that we need work local issues, stay focussed and fend off temptation to join national groups or to take on larger targets. We know the place where we live; access to officeholders (or at least their surrogates) is easy; we can be both noisy and nimble.
This does not mean we should stay away from the bigger issues; it is that this particular fight needs focus, mental discipline and strategic thinking. The political landscape will be changing soon; the GOPers understand that and will try to remain uncommitted to any specific as long as they can. Our task is to make sure they cannot do it for too long. Tying them to the current regime, to any changes for the worse, to any disruption is one of the keys to success. Another is not to be drawn into the discussions with outcomes unlikely to affect directly our conservative neighbors, however infuriating the policies of the regime are.
This is a learning phase; we are preparing layout for bigger battles. If we are ready, if we do now our work right, the life will be interesting.
In a good way.