November 8, 2016 was one of the worst days of my life. I’m sure many of you feel this way as well. Yet in the aftermath, I was very angry with myself for not seeing this coming. After all, our entire history is based on white supremacy. So I am determined to not overlook the reality of this nation again just because I want a different result.
Therefore, what does it mean if Republicans hold on to both the House and Senate tomorrow. In a very real way, this would be a terrible result, for reasons I hardly have to state. It would lead to definitive evidence to Republicans that white supremacy is the ticket to electoral success, huge attacks on entitlements, more right-wing judges, the likely end of the Mueller investigation without a House committed to following it up, even more open voter suppression, etc. etc.
Now, I don’t think this is going to happen. That’s not so much because of the polling, which was so flawed in 2016, as because of two years of special elections where Democrats have consistently and significantly surpassed polling. That doesn’t mean tomorrow is a wave and we welcome Phil Bredesen and Beto O’Rourke into the Senate. But it’s possible.
On the other hand, it’s totally possible Republicans only lose 15 House seats while gaining 2 Senate seats and all hell breaks loose. What happens then?
The answer is, well, we just keep doing what we are doing. We have to have a long game as well as a short game in saving this nation. Yes, the election is critical. No doubt about that. But either way, we have a lifelong fight against white supremacy and fascism ahead of us, one made far worse by right-wing media and the social networks they can use to create spurious fears among old white people. The struggle for justice is a lifetime struggle. Things could very easily get worse, if not in 2018 than in 2020 or 2022. We face a Republican Party dedicated to destroying everything decent about this nation.
Moreover, voting is only part of our struggle. Even if we win, the structures of oppression remain powerful. The police will still murder black people, fascists will still run through ICE, Native peoples will continue to be oppressed. In many ways, the emphasis on the vote as the be all and end all of politics is a symbol of comfortable white liberalism, for whom it is easy to ignore all the other terrible things happening if the things that affect them daily are not a problem anymore. None of this is to dampen the enthusiasm for voting tomorrow–not at all! Rather, it’s to remember that our struggle must include voting and organizing, marching in the street and donating to candidates, working on issues outside of electoral politics and trying to take over the Democratic Party to make it a force for justice. We have to do all of these things at once.
We would do well to remember the generational struggles of our heroes of the past. Remember that W.E.B. DuBois was born in 1868 and died in 1963. He lived 95 years and was born at the peak of Reconstruction black power and died a few days before the March on Washington. He lived his entire life in an era of incredible oppression. Yet he continued to fight. This could be our future. The only choice is to not be too jubilant or too depressed after tomorrow and keep moving forward. It’s the fight of our lives.