IDC Defeat Two Years On: Inspiration For What We Must Do Now

On the two year anniversary of the IDC defeat let’s be inspired to keep doing the work. We are less than two months out from the most consequential general election of our lifetime — one where we must defeat a fascist president, flip the U.S. senate and gain more seats at the state level.

Three days out from the June 2020 New York Democratic Primary, this piece from the Gotham Gazette reminded me what I accomplished as part of Empire State Indivisible, True Blue NY, the Indivisible movement and today it reminds me what we need to keep on doing for the urgent 2020 general election and beyond.

I lived every moment of the IDC fight. In 2017 helping to organize empty seat town halls in uptown Manhattan, Jackson Heights, Park Slope, and Staten Island. Talking to constituents who were already scared of Trump and discovering they had Trump democrats in their district as their elected leaders.

We persisted. More town halls + canvassing and calling to educate and engage constituents. Organizing a group of volunteers from across our city and state to be a political force — to talk about the IDC problem, the issues and policy impacted, and eventually about IDC challenger candidates.

All of this at the same time, that as co-leader of Empire State Indivisible, I was organizing to hold our federal elected leaders to account and make sure they were doing everything possible to stop this president.

2018 started with a press conference at city hall and a rally with IDC challengers in Brooklyn. Then on a cold spring day, a kick-off for IDC challenger candidate Jessica Ramos in Astoria. And on a steamy July weekend in deep Queens getting thousands of petition signatures for another IDC challenger candidate John Liu — while getting yelled at and chased.

Part of my role at Empire State Indivisible was to recruit and organize volunteers for Sunday canvasses in the Bronx for IDC challenger candidate Alessandra Biaggi. I had to convince volunteers to take the nearly hour long weekend subway ride to canvass in heat, humidity, and rain. Motivate them to keep at it — to build the momentum and a movement. The volunteers were committed — a commitment I have seen repeated many times since. To get the New York State Senate majority in autumn 2018; for Tiffany Cabán in the 2019 Queens District Attorney race; and for presidential, congressional and state candidates in the primary earlier this year.

From canvasses in the Bronx, I remember the conversations with voters — they were scared of Trump, their neighbors being taken away, luxury developers pricing them out. At doors we were invited in, offered cool drinks, and thanked — because no one else including their IDC Senator had bothered to talk to them.

By late August I had people I didn’t know texting, calling and emailing me asking to help. When Zephyr Teachout joined us in the Bronx one Sunday and Leah Greenberg of Indivisible the following Sunday we had more volunteers than minivan lists.

The state primary on September 13th was an incredibly special night. It was everything great about Empire State Indivisible, True Blue NY, the Indivisible movement, our democracy and the power of New Yorkers. That night will be a long chapter in a book I will someday write. But right now we must think of our right now.

After the IDC defeat we helped elect a democratic senate majority. In 2019 we started advocating for long stalled bills to finally pass in Albany including reproductive rights, voter access, criminal justice reform, congestion pricing, tenant protections, climate change action. But it was also in 2019 when we discovered that a true blue senate alone could not get it done. This is why must continue to do the work to elect and re-elect progressive leaders to the New York State legislature

In 2020, we must also do the work at the presidential and U.S. senate level. This is overwhelming, especially in a year where we are struggling to survive, stretched in so many directions, and have limited electoral tactics.

But I know we can do it. The IDC defeat two years ago today, that came from the hard work and perseverance of so many committed people, proves it.

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