For Democrats across America, there was a lot to cheer about in this Tuesday’s elections. Democratic Party candidates won big in a number of competitive races—including deep-red Kentucky, where Gov. Andy Beshear clobbered his Trump-backed opponent and in Virginia, where Democrats won control of the House of Delegates while maintaining their majority in the state Senate. And, almost 17 months after the conservative-dominated U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, candidates and ballot measures backing reproductive rights scored victories in a number of states with constituencies spanning the political spectrum. For example, by a strong majority voters in MAGA-controlled Ohio enshrined the right to abortion in their state constitution—a harbinger of things likely to come in other states, regardless of their political makeup. Americans, it is clear, still believe in individual freedom and personal choice. But in Washington state’s 4th Congressional District—where MAGA has run rampant and controls most city councils, school boards, county commissions, police and sheriff departments, community organizations, housing boards and more—Tuesday’s election was devastating. This election MAGA seized even more seats on our local school boards. This partisan takeover is causing long-term and possibly irreparable damage to our children due to MAGA policies of book banning, curriculum based on “God’s law,” erasing and shaming of LGBT+ people, defunding of school systems in favor of charter schools, animosity and suspicion towards teachers and a push to dismantle the U.S. Department of Education.
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Despite this we see an opportunity. There has always been a chink in MAGA’s armor: truth. For too long Democrats in Central Washington have operated in the background for fear of retribution from MAGA zealots. Attacks by MAGA are well known, horrific and terrifying. As a result, Democrats here have restricted political campaigning—canvassing, text messaging, phone banking, post card mailings and conversations—to known Democrats. That represents under 30 percent of registered voters. The remaining 70 percent of voters hear only the bellowing and unending repetition of MAGA lies. But in two places in Central Washington the Democrats were not silent. They were loud, demanding and shouting the truth. And in these two places Democrats excelled! In Richland the fight over the school board started long before this election. Three MAGA school board members broke rules by holding a closed door session in the absence of their two other colleagues and the public to make policy on mask mandates—an undemocratic action which shook the city, resulting in a Democrat-led recall election. In Tuesday’s election, all three recalled MAGA candidates, were replaced with three non-MAGA members who embrace democratic values. In the small town of Sunnyside, a group of six residents decided that the status quo would not do and they set out to wrest MAGA’s grip from the City Council and School Board. In the boldest local campaign in memory they took their town by storm. Democrats were everywhere all the time and held numerous candidate forums to increase accessibility of voters. The four running for City Council won their seats and one of the two running for School Board won theirs. The work that these groups and individuals did made us more certain that increasing visibility and voice is the best strategy. Rural Americans United’s strategy for Central Washington of increasing the visibility and voice of Democrats and moderates has been shown by others to be the best approach. With energized, active voters we can assert our individual rights and our belief in a truly democratic system that is fair to everyone.