2021 The Road Ahead

A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.                 

Mahatma Gandhi

And so we did. And still must do. The road ahead.


The Secret History of The Shadow Campaign that Saved The Election

For more than a year, a loosely organized coalition of operatives scrambled to shore up America’s institutions as they came under simultaneous attack from a remorseless pandemic and an autocratically inclined President. Though much of this activity took place on the left, it was separate from the Biden campaign and crossed ideological lines, with crucial contributions by nonpartisan and conservative actors.

A series of actions had been unfolding behind the scenes, one that curtailed protests and coordinated the resistance from CEOs . Hundreds of major business leaders, many of whom had backed Trumps candidacy and supported his policies, called on him to concede. The handshake between business and labor was just one component of a vast, cross-partisan campaign to protect the election–an extraordinary shadow effort dedicated not to winning the vote but to ensuring it would be free and fair, credible and uncorrupted.

The organizations involved included, but were not limited to The Voter Protection Project with both Republicans and Democrats on its board and Protect Democracy, a bipartisan election-crisis task force. They joined forces with the Fight Back Table, a coalition of “resistance” organizations who then formed the Democracy Defense Coalition. The architect of this shadow organization was Mike Podhorzer, originally the senior advisor to the president of the AFL-CIO. Among Democratic insiders, he’s known as the wizard behind some of the biggest advances in political technology in recent decades.

This alliance also included the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National Vote at Home Institute, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, The Voter Participation Center, All Voting Is Local, Catalist, The National Council on Election Integrity, Movement For Black Lives, The Voting Rights Lab and IntoAction, We the People Michigan, Detroit Will Breathe, More than 150 liberal groups, from the Women’s March to Indivisible to the Sierra Club to Color of Change, from Democrats.com to the Democratic Socialists of America, joined the “Protect the Results” coalition.

This detailed and complex series of coordinated actions and responses show just how close we came to having this election overturned. “There’s an impulse for some to say voters decided and democracy won. But it’s a mistake to think that this election cycle was a show of strength for democracy. It shows how vulnerable democracy is.”

Democrats Win the Senate
With The Victories by Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock

Stacey Abrams and Lauren Groh-Wargo created Fair Fight 10 years ago with a mission to organize people, help realize gains in their lives, win local races to build statewide competitiveness and hold power accountable. In addition, they intended to transform Georgia into a battleground state. Years of planning, testing, innovating, sustained investment and organizing yielded record-breaking results. More details in the Respond section.

President Trump Incites an Armed Insurrection Against Congress

Trump refused to concede, and conjured fantasies of widespread fraud with no proof. He began by claiming the “mail in” ballots were fraudulent. He then tried to stop the election he’d lost with lawsuits and conspiracy theories. Lastly he tried to put pressure on state and local officials to change the vote. On January 6 he summoned his army of supporters to the Washington DC on the day the Congress was in the process of counting electoral votes. Trump urged his supporters to ‘fight much harder’ against ‘bad people’ and ‘show strength’ at the Capitol.

Nearly every day since insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol, the list of those charged in the attack has grown longer. As of March 1, 2021, three hundred people have been charged from more than 40 states. The insurrection attempt ended with five people dead, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer.

A majority of House Republicans, as well as six Senators, voted to try to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s win in Arizona

Immediately following the coup attempt, six Republican senators — Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Cindy Hyde-Smith, John Kennedy, Roger Marshall, and Tommy Tuberville — and a stunning 121 House Republicans voted, fruitlessly, to contest the Arizona results. Their attempts failed, 93–6 in the Senate and 303–121 in the House. These 147 Republicans voted to overturn election results. Response to these actions included editorials asking for their resignations, in addition to the withdrawal of political donations from specific American corporations. Ways to respond to this below.

Donald Trump Acquitted In Second Impeachment Trial

The Senate voted 57-43 today to acquit former President Trump of inciting an insurrection at the Capitol on Jan, 6. Trump’s second impeachment trial lasted five days with both House managers and defense lawyers presenting evidence and arguments to support their positions. Republican leaders are sharply divided on Trumps role and influence in the G.O.P going forward.

In Statehouses, Stolen-Election Myth Fuels a G.O.P. Drive to Rewrite Rules

     Led by loyalists who embrace former President Donald J. Trump’s baseless claims of a stolen election, Republicans in state legislatures nationwide are mounting extraordinary efforts to change the rules of voting and representation — and enhance their own political clout. “The typical response by a losing party in a functioning democracy is that they alter their platform to make it more appealing, Here the response is to try to keep people from voting. It’s dangerously antidemocratic.”

As the Georgia House of Representative was passing legislation intent on suppressing the vote last month, Rep. Bee Nguyen explained how their Republicans were using this false narrative: “We are legislating on lies … lies, misinformation and conspiracy theories that have gone unchecked by many members of this body, who stayed silent, who signed on to the Texas lawsuit or who encouraged sham hearings in our General Assembly,” she said. “Members of this body aided and abetted a deliberate misinformation campaign to sow seeds of doubt among Georgia voters with absolutely no facts or evidence.”

Social Media Accountability

The public is passively consuming inaccuracies and falsehoods through various social media platforms. In addition, social media’s algorithms wind up amplifying extremist content. 

Congressman Tom Malinowski (NJ-7) and Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18) introduced the Protecting Americans from Dangerous Algorithms Act, legislation to hold large social media platforms accountable for their algorithmic amplification of harmful, radicalizing content that leads to offline violence.

“Social media companies have been playing whack-a-mole trying to take down QAnon conspiracies and other extremist content, but they aren’t changing the design of a social network that is built to amplify extremism,”

The Status of State Governments Today

A trifecta means one party controls the executive branch and both chambers of the legislative branch. A divided government describes a situation in which one party controls the executive branch while another party controls one or both houses of the legislative branch. There are currently 38 trifectas: 15 Democratic and 23 Republican. As a result of the 2020 elections, Republicans increased their trifecta total with a net gain of two trifectas.

23 Republican Trifectas: Alabama, Arizona*, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia*, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire*, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming

15 Democratic Trifectas: California*, Colorado*, Connecticut*, Delaware*, Hawaii*, Illinois*, Maine*, Nevada*, New Jersey*, New Mexico*, New York*, Oregon*, Rhode Island*, Virginia*, Washington*

12 Divided Governments: Alaska, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland*, Massachusetts*, Michigan*, Minnesota*, North Carolina, Pennsylvania*, Vermont*, Wisconsin*

* The states that voted for Biden

As of January 29, 2021, Republicans controlled 54.27% of all state legislative seats nationally, while Democrats held 44.86%. Republicans held a majority in 61 chambers, and Democrats held the majority in 37 chambers. One chamber (Alaska House) remained uncertain

Redistricting and Control of the U.S. Congress

Redistricting occurs every 10 years after the U.S. Census completes its decennial count of the national population. Because the number of U.S. House of Representatives seats allocated to each state is driven largely by population, some states whose population declined will likely lose seats to others that have seen growth. This year, Texas and Florida are among the states expected to gain seats, while New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania are among those that will likely lose seats. Each state uses the census data to draw congressional districts, as well as new state legislative districts

In most states, the legislature produces the maps, with the governor often having veto power. Voters in several states, including Colorado, Michigan, New York and Virginia, approved the creation of redistricting commissions designed to lessen partisanship, though they have varying degrees of autonomy.

After Democrats failed to make major gains in November at the statehouse level, Republicans will have sole power to draw the lines for 181 seats in the 435-seat U.S. House, compared with only 49 for Democrats. Some experts say Republicans could use redistricting alone to flip the half-dozen House seats needed to regain control of the chamber from Democrats in the 2022 congressional elections.

Last week, Census officials said states would not receive detailed figures until September. As a result, the two states that hold legislative elections in 2021, Virginia and New Jersey, will use their old maps. Meanwhile, around half of U.S. states have legal deadlines calling for new maps to be completed in 2021, which could be impossible given the delay; experts say many states will likely ask courts for extensions.

The biggest fights could emerge in four populous Southern states where Republican control over redistricting could yield big gains in Congress – Texas, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina.

The Redistricting Landscape 2021-22

Political changes and reforms

For the next round of redistricting, the good news is that single-party control has decreased due to a combination of reforms and elections that have resulted in divided government. In total, six states have adopted redistricting reforms that will be used in the upcoming redistricting cycle, including Virginia in November 2020. Meanwhile, several other states where maps are still drawn by legislatures and that saw egregious gerrymandering last cycle now have divided governments. Lawmakers in these states must now compromise or forfeit their map drawing authority to the courts — where the likelihood of fair maps is much higher.

Legal changes

The legal landscape, by contrast, is more ominous this time around. Map drawing in 2021–22 will take place with a legal framework weakened by two major Supreme Court rulings. Shelby County v. Holder gutted core protections of the Voting Rights Act. Rucho v. Common Cause closed the door to federal court challenges to partisan gerrymanders. Yet, the last decade saw new jurisprudential fronts open with wins against partisan gerrymandering in two state courts. 

Demographic and population changes 

The South in particular has grown rapidly and become both much more racially and politically diverse since 2011. Similarly, some regions have seen population decreases or significant demographic changes and could also see battles over adjustments to maps. 

The Assault on Voting 2021

Over objections from Democrats last month, Georgia House Republicans passed a sweeping elections bill that would enact more restrictions on absentee voting and cut back on weekend early voting hours favored by larger counties, among other changes. The bill now heads to the Georgia Senate, which is considering its own omnibus measure that would end no-excuse absentee voting, among other changes.

The Supreme Court has decided takes up a court fight Tuesday, March 2, over voting rights in the battleground state of Arizona, and the outcome may affect how the nation’s courts resolve clashes over election laws in dozens of other states.

Two Arizona laws are at issue in the virtual oral arguments before the justices. One requires election officials to reject ballots cast in the wrong precincts. The other concerns voting by mail and provides that only the voter, a family member or a caregiver can collect and deliver a completed ballot.

But Arizona Democrats said the state has a history of switching polling places more often in minority neighborhoods and putting the polls in places intended to cause mistakes. Minorities move more often and are less likely to own homes, resulting in the need to change polling places, Democrats said.

Arizona far outpaces other states in discarding out-of-precinct ballots, rejecting 11 times more than the next-highest state. And minority voters are more likely to need help turning in their ballots, the challengers said. In many states where the practice is legal, community activists offer ballot collection to encourage voting.

Respond Opinions

Just Help People

Biden has an extraordinary opportunity to change the relationship between the people and their government.If he succeeds, he will not only deprive authoritarian populists like Trump of energy, he will give Democrats a chance to win over voters who’ve lost faith in them, and he will give voice to millions more that the American political system has silenced. “The best thing we can do right now to reduce levels of anger and frustration on both sides of the aisle is to give people the things they need to live better lives,” In other words, what Democrats need to do is simple: Just help people, and do it fast.

How to Turn A Red State Blue
The steps toward victory are straightforward: understand your weaknesses, organize with your allies, shore up your political infrastructure and focus on the long game

Stacey Abrams and Lauren Groh-Wargo

Take Action

  • Create a clear message. Too often, Democrats try to ensure that their communications include everyone and everything, turning a legitimate message into an unclear or overstuffed manifesto. Each state Democratic Party should create a narrative about where it is and where it is headed that voters can believe.
  • In contrast, Republicans offer clear messages their voters can adhere to (God, guns and anti-government, to name three).
  • Never forget, however, that creating a political identity for state Democrats is not a national operation. Each state is starting from a different place, and for the message to have meaning and credibility, it must reflect the reality of where you are today.

Organizing is the soul of this work

  • Building progressive governing power requires organizing.
  • At its most basic, organizing is talking to people about important issues, plus moving them to take collective action.
  • First, you need a resonant issue to organize around. Then you need a concrete goal to organize toward. Good community organizers are crucial for connecting needs and dreams to resources and policy changes. While organizations are optimal, individuals can and do work independently to great effect.
  • In our efforts in Georgia, we have always embraced the philosophy that we operate as part of an ecosystem of state and local organizers who focus on a range of sometimes conflicting narratives.A push for environmental legislation to restrict the use of fossil fuels must engage the thousands of union workers employed by industries reliant on those energy sources.
  • Sustained engagement with all of the component parts of a Democratic coalition means that while those you disappoint may be angry with a particular action, they won’t abandon the mission.

Breathe Life Into The State Party

  • If you want to build a battleground state, a strong state party is a necessity. 
  • Cultivating a new political dynamic in state politics often puts you at loggerheads with the political operatives and professional consultants who have dominated Democratic politics. Bringing in new voices and changing the traditional conversation about how to win does more than defy the status quo.

Play The Long Game

  • Make steady gains in local races and state legislative races
  • For 10 years, we carried around charts of Georgia’s demographic and registration projections, as well as one that showed shrinking margins of victory for Republicans in races for the Senate, the governorship and the presidency over time.
  • To win in the 21st century, Democrats must cultivate and hire people of color in the central areas of communications, fund-raising, research, operations and management. Diversity in staffing is more than a nice nod to our multicultural party. Our success is built on diverse coalitions, and Democrats must have culturally competent staff members.
  • Our approach was rooted in the demographic numbers and in the moral clarity provided by an authentic, multiracial, multiethnic, multigenerational and truly statewide coalition. This work takes time and investment, as we have said, in an electoral strategy that makes progress over time.
  • More important, we understood that the transformation of what had become a solidly red state was a continuing campaignand must not be centered on one election or one leader.
  • Recent Democratic wins in Georgia and Arizona reflect growth in support from white voters but also, critically, increased turnout and support from Black, Latino, Asian-American and Native American communities.

Surround yourself with smart people.

Lead strategists are vital to building a battleground state. They see the big picture and get you up to scale. You can’t build a battleground state with just grassroots organizing or relying on a competent state legislative caucus. Each of these pieces has to be driven by someone who sees the full playing field.

The Untapped and Underrepresented 

  • For Georgia and much of the Sun Belt, the primary opportunity is in a growing cohort of people of color who see Democratic policies as their path to prosperity. For other states, a resurgence of labor unions or an increase in youth participation may be the key to adding new voices and voters. 
  • By identifying an untapped or underrepresented voter pool, states can redefine their path to victory. To do so, each state must recognize that losing better is a crucial part of engineering a battleground state. 
  • Over time, with a larger, comprehensive strategy in place, smart investments, sustained effort and a commitment to organizing and civic engagement across communities — and again, a tolerance for setbacks — we can create a new generation of competitive states, from sea to shining sea.

Respond Steps

  1. Become informed and involved with the most recent Federal, State and Local legislation addressing the issues of:

Climate Change

Covid 19 : Testing, Immunization, Economic Recovery

Criminal Justice Reform

Disinformation Campaigns


Economic Recovery & Small Businesses

Food Insecurity and Food Deserts

Gun Control

Health Care

Housing – affordable, zoning laws, redlining, homelessness


Income Inequality – including minimum wage

LGBT Rights

Nursing Home & Long Care Facility Reform

Racial Injustice

Social Media Accountability

Voting – logistics, assaults, early voting, redistricting and gerrymandering

2. Hold these and other officials who support the former president’s baseless claims of widespread fraud accountable. Challenge the misinformation campaigns around you through public meetings, newspapers and debates.

Disinformation Campaigns

Four New York representatives were among the 147 Republicans who voted to overturn the election results, despite the lack of evidence for President Trump’s baseless claims of widespread fraud: Nicole Malliotakis, who represents Staten Island and part of South Brooklyn; Lee Zeldin from Long Island; Elise M. Stefanik, who represents the North Country; and Chris Jacobs from the Buffalo area. (Both of the state’s senators are Democrats who voted to certify the election results.)

Hold officials accountable . Notify all officials who supported the former president’s baseless claims of widespread fraud with some or all of the following points:

  • You voted against certifying the election even though the claims of fraud had been rejected by state officials of both parties, as well as by dozens of judges across the country.
  • It showed that you support  conspiracy theories surrounding the 2020 Presidential Election. In addition, you have now aligned yourself with the extremist groups that support white supremacy and antisemitism.
  • You swore to uphold the Constitution, and then attempted to usurp this Democracy.
  • We need a  (Representative or Senator ) who respects the voting process and the will of all the people you represent.
  • I demand your resignation. 

Get your local, state and federal representatives to go on record stating they supported election results. Interview candidates who are running for public office on all levels and see if they are participating in the disinformation campaign perpetuated by the former president. This will be the new path for the Conservative Republicans around us. They started with stating that the Black Lives Matter movement was an effort to defund the police. They have used this strategy before and will continue to do so.

3. Become informed and participate in state legislative and governor races. I’ve included most of the states below. See how the candidates support the policies that are important to you. Attend virtual meetings. Voice your concerns. Save your state representatives’ phone numbers, addresses, and emails in your contact list for easy access.

The Timetable for State Elections 

Executive Branch Elections

2021–   2 states are electing governors
The 2 Democratic Governors of New Jersey  and Virginia

2022 –  36 states and three territories are electing governors

The 17 Republican Governors of Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Wyoming, Northern Mariana Islands
4 Retiring and term limited Republican Governors of Arizona, Arkansas, Maryland and Nebraska

14 Democratic Governors of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Wisconsin, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands
4 Retiring and term limited Democrat Governors of Hawaii, Oregon, Pennsylvania & Rhode Island 

Legislative Branch Elections

Most state senators are elected to four-year terms and state representatives are elected to two-year terms.

2021 2 states will hold  legislative chamber elections: 
New Jersey State Senate and Assembly Elections
Virginia House of Delegates Elections

2022 –  88 of the country’s 99 state legislative chambers will hold elections.

Both state legislative houses are up for re-election in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska (they only have one chamber), Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Elections for just the State House of Representatives: Kansas, South Carolina

4. Become informed and participate in local political campaigns. See how the candidates support the policies that are important to you. Attend virtual meetings. Voice your concerns. Save your local representatives’ phone numbers, addresses, and emails in your contact list for easy access.

Local Elections 

Council Members 
City Planning Board
Trustee – Village Planning Board 
County Commissioners
City Council Members
Borough Presidents

5. Each state legislature is now engaged in voting legislation. In addition, each state will be using the census data to draw congressional districts, as well as new state legislative districts. Redistricting translates into more seats in Congress, and control of State Houses. Get involved. Attend virtual meetings. Voice your concerns.  

6.  Support your Congressional Representatives. Stay informed on the most recent Federal legislation like the Covid 19 Stimulus Bill, HR1 – For The People Act which will  expand voting rights, change campaign finance laws to reduce the influence of money in politics, limit partisan gerrymandering, and create new ethics rules for federal officeholders, S51 supporting statehood for  Washington DC. More bills will be in upcoming posts. Save your Congressional representatives’ phone numbers, addresses, and emails in your contact list for easy access. 

7. Join a local civic group and/or an online advocacy community. 

Once again I am profiling a local civic association in New York. The Bay Shore Babylon Women’s Huddle has worked on multiple fronts of advocacy. They hold monthly zoom meetings and use their mailing list to post agenda items, meeting minutes and items of interest/action throughout the month. Their members (individually and collectively) have participated in activities  with organizations such as  New Hour For Women & Children,  Parole Justice Campaign Day of Action, Indivisible, New York Civic Engagement Table (NYCET) and Advocacy Institute (AI).   They’ve joined in zoom/phone/texting events in support of federal legislation – S1 (For the People Act),  S51 (Washington DC statehood) and state legislation “Invest in Our New York Act”, and “The New York Health Act”.
     Their current focus is on the federal, state, and local re-districting of Long Island. The Huddle has teamed up and joined with various civic groups across Long Island to expand their outreach. They are currently working with the Sayville Citizens for Political Activation. This group has been organizing and leading the challenge to the recently redistricted maps of the Town of Islip. These maps sliced up formerly contiguous communities. 
Another outreach has been identifying and interviewing new candidates for local positions in government. In addition, they  have created multi-media educational materials on how to identify misinformation and falsehoods that they plan to share with schools, libraries and community centers.


Indivisible continues to be in the forefront of effective and sustained advocacy and involvement in all federal, state and local policies . Find your local group.   Help where you can, when you can. 

Next Multiple Posts: 

Local and Statewide Legislation and Elections with a focus on New York and New Jersey.

Remember to:

Go local.
Help People

“Do your little bit of good where you are;
its those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

Desmond Tutu

About Debra29

I am a retired public school teacher who believes that a strong democracy rests on the shoulders of its citizens. This blog was created as a central resource of civic engagement. Together, we can make a difference. Follow me on Twitter: Determined@2AlterTheCourse
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