The Power of the Grassroots Movement

postcard to help get out the vote for the Tom Suozzi elections

The Power of the Grassroots Movement

The Power of the Grassroots Movement 320 240 Kim Beck

Last month Tom Suozzi won a hard fought special election in NY House District 3 to replace George Santos in Congress. This was a big deal because Santos is credibly accused of conspiracy, credit card fraud, wire fraud, identity theft and falsification of records. If we are to ensure we have a functioning government, he clearly should not be a member of Congress and has no business representing the people of NY 3. It is also a huge win for House Democrats, as it brings them one seat closer to taking back the House of Representatives. One could argue that it is also good for the country overall because Democrats take governing seriously and will work to pass legislation that will help the country. The current GOP-controlled House is a performative evil-clown show, and with the fewest bill enacted so far, is on track to be the least productive one since the Great Depression.

But there’s another reason why this election matters. Despite the media failing to highlight it, (or choosing to ignore it), the role of the Grassroots efforts was recognized. By the candidate throughout his campaign and in his victory speech. By Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg on MSNBC on the night of the election. By the leaders of the coordinated campaign that is working to take back the House for Democrats through New York.

Grassroots groups have been organizing since November 2016 when Donald Trump was elected President. All across the country, people (mostly women) began to gather and organize. To galvanize against what was sure to be a tumultuous four years or more. For the Downtown Nasty Women, what started as a form of therapy and community to process how our country could elect a grifting, unqualified, and dangerous man over a competent, experienced, and compassionate woman turned into finding ways to take action against the extreme policies that threatened the future of America and the entire world. When others (mostly men) who were less engaged spoke of the checks and balances in our government, we kept meeting and strategizing. When there was disbelief that things could get as bad as the doomsdayers predicted, we assessed the potential outcomes and consequences of inaction. We put our regular lives on hold and made a lasting commitment to fight against the cruel and undemocratic rhetoric and policies that had become an existential threat to our freedoms. We marched, protested, wrote letters and postcards to our lawmakers, demanded change, educated ourselves, became elected officials, and fundraised. We organized. Provided support and encouragement for each other. Grew in numbers. Persisted. And all across the country, in red and blue states, in cities and suburbs, the Grassroots movement was becoming a force.

Grassroots groups were given a seat at Tom Suozzi’s campaign table. Before he even widely announced his election, he met with Grassroots leaders to talk about the race. His campaign recognized the impact that activists had in previous elections and brought them into the tent. Consulted with them. He showed up at phone banks to thank the volunteers, call them out to thank them personally by name. Because he knew they mattered and that they would make a difference in a tough election in a district that leans Republican. Volunteers wrote more than 200,000 Get Out the Vote postcards, knocked on over 150,000 doors and made over 2 million phone calls to voters. Grassroots groups joined together, including women’s clubs, Democratic clubs, postcard groups and more.

Democratic leaders, candidates, and politicians may finally be starting to realize that the Grassroots must be recognized as an integral part of the equation. We have been helping candidates who share our democratic values to win, and in tough districts, or little known special elections, they can’t do it without us.

Even the Biden 2024 re-election team is catching on. Heather Booth, one of the most well-known Grassroots activists and organizers, was hired to be the Progressive Outreach Director for the 2024 Biden Campaign. And the campaign is having regular updates with volunteers to keep them updated on messaging and strategy.

But this is not about recognition. That’s not why we’ve been doing this for the last eight years. It is simply foolish for these campaigns and leaders to ignore the impact of the Grassroots. We have experience, organization skills, an army of volunteers, and the energy that has allowed us to keep fighting, non-stop, to protect our democracy, our country, our planet and our freedoms. We are idealists. We are realists. We are leaders. We are volunteers. We know how to organize, inspire, mobilize, and do the work. And we are determined.

And that in itself is a powerful thing.