It’s been just about two weeks, now, since many of us Marched for Science, and just about a week since even more people filled up the same streets with the People’s Climate March. We’ve had a little good news since then — Congress reached a deal to fund the government through September, which mostly leaves research funding unchanged and actually boosts the NIH budget. But that ray of sunshine is pretty faint — the EPA still saw a funding cut, just not a catastrophic one – and it’s already clouded over with the passage, by the House of Representatives, of a healthcare plan that would gut the provisions and protections of the Affordable Care Act, and the Trump Administration’s contemplation of a withdrawal from the Paris Accord plan to fight climate change. We’re in a marathon, not a sprint, and this feels like the point — usually about mile 6 of 26, for me — where the excitement of a big race gives way to the realization of just how long it’s going to be. What’s your plan for the long term?
Keeping in touch with your Members of Congress is important, but at the end of the day, the best prospect to change the priorities of the Federal government is going to get some new Members of Congress. The health care repeal vote and historically low presidential approval have made that more do-able than ever, but now is the time to start planning. If you’re in a district represented by a Republican, get on board with their opponent’s campaign right now, and prepare for the work of getting out the vote in a non-presidential election year. If your reps are Democrats, check out SwingLeft to pick a vulnerable Republican close by and find out how you can help defeat them. You can also pitch in to one or more of SwingLeft’s District Funds to support opposition candidates. The general midterm election is 550 days away on November 6, 2018, but make sure you’re ready for primaries beforehand, and for special elections in Montana’s 4th district on May 25, and in Georgia’s 6th, on June 20.
The only route to restoring a functioning government any time soon is through the ballot box. Pick a lane and pace yourself, and we’ll get there yet.