Photo by Austin Schmid on Unsplash
You’ve heard this before. (Including when I interviewed Jason Sattler, aka @LOLGOP, here on Substack in 2020.)
This is the most important election of your lifetime.
Seriously, this is not a drill.
If the Big Lying, cheating, violent, Ultra Maga extremist wing of the Republican Party takes control of Congress in November, it doesn’t matter who the GOP nominee in 2024 is or whether Steve Bannon is in or out of prison.
A Red Wave in 2022 will give “election machinery”-grabbing Republicans everything they need to make sure Donald or Ron or Kristi is declared the winner before all the votes are shredded and the incriminating texts deleted.
This is no time to be demoralized by polls or inflation or the powerful billionaires who are eagerly funding fascism.
It’s time to band together to save democracy. It’s time to think and act smarter. It’s time to defeat the thugs and extremists who want to destroy all that you hold dear.
The good news: @LOLGOP has a plan. And it just might work.
Q&A with @LOLGOP
What is your best advice for Democrats who want to make a difference this year?
I should start off by saying I’m the probably worst person in the world to be giving you advice. Or second worst, after Jared Kushner.
After the 2016 election, I realized that the thing I’d spent most of the last decade doing—making C+ jokes about Republicans on the internet—was not only ineffective. It was probably detrimental, even in the very small sphere of influence I had, about the size of a dorm closet.
Constantly laughing at Republicans creates the false impression that they’re just a joke—and in comedy, nobody actually gets hurt. But people are definitely getting hurt. And the comic veneer of the GOP helps cloak the real damage they’ve done, want to do and will do.
Though I was a columnist at USA TODAY at that time and up until 2021, I realized I was mostly useless. I was not funny enough to be a comic and not comic enough to be a pundit.
As 2022 approached and I figured I’d need a place to vent or my family and dogs might flee, I decided I better give myself a project. And that project just couldn’t be about retweets, likes or clicks. Social media is good for one thing—spreading. What it spreads is mostly whatever those brown lines Charles M. Schulz drew around Pigpen. But it also spreads forms—donation forms, forms to volunteer on campaigns, newsletter signup forms—with probably too much ease.
That has led to candidates raising shitloads of money. Which is cool, except that money too often goes to the wrong places. Let’s look at the classic example.
Amy McGrath raised almost $100 million to lose to Mitch McConnell by like a thousand percent. She probably lost by the same exact percentage that she would have if she spent no money and just issued a press release that said, “Mitch McConnell is a c*nt, and not in a good way.”
That $100 million could have been used to win countless races, whole state legislatures. Multiple state legislatures.
This is personal to me because I actually live in a state where this money could have made a huge difference, where Republicans who poisoned a whole city, in one of the worst acts of environmental racism in recent history, still control both state houses.
So inspired by the “Give Smart” approach pioneered by your pal @BobbyBigWheel and Data for Progress and now institutionalized through the awesome States Project, I decided to launch Blue Walls to make it easy for people to use the limited resources—time, money, goodwill toward humanity—to the best possible use.
That’s the goal: Posts that promote effective actions people can take while sitting on their ass.
I’m not a real activist. I rarely march. I’ve never done any actual organizing. But I do donate, tweet, whine, bray, and retweet. I might even phone bank from my personal device. So since I cannot ask anyone to do anything I won’t, that’s what I’m doing.
So that’s my advice as we face an election that may decide if we ever have any other fair presidential elections again, do all you can. And do it smart, which means in a targeted way that’s consistent with your values. Or, at least, mine.
What specific advice do you have for people who are Blue in a Blue State?
There are going to be a lot of close House races in Blue States if we’re heading into the kind of red wave that usually greets Democratic presidents. There are reasons to believe this year won’t be a normal year. But normally, things are normal.
This is a year where you want to prioritize. I’ve been playing with this list but the most important things we can do for democracy are probably:
Holding at least one house of Congress—the Senate seems far more possible at this point.
Winning at least one statehouse in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Arizona to disrupt the GOP’s evil plan to steal 2024 and every election from now on through state legislatures.
Holding the governorships of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin along with as many county clerkships (and seats on boards of education) as possible.
Supporting abortion rights in general wherever possible is also a huge priority for me.
I’m not suggesting this should be your list. But I suggest making one and focus as much energy as possible on that top three.
What about those who are Blue in a Red State? Or worse, Blue in an unwinnable Red district?
You can always just do nothing. That may be better than doing the wrong thing, I think.
At the very least, don’t give any energy, attention or lift to unwinnable races that will suck up precious money.
Trying to defeat Marjorie Taylor Greene in a district she cannot possibly lose.
Trying to elect “independent” Evan McMullin in Utah, which will elect nothing but Republicans statewide, as Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada faces a winnable but much more important and closer race.
Also forget beating nearly all the people you hate most—including Elise Stefanik, Lauren Boebert or Matt Gaetz.
We, as Democrats, need to learn that the things that make us hate certain Republicans is what makes Republicans love them. Our hate and the attention it brings fuels them.
Mocking Josh Hawley for fleeing from the neo-Nazis he boosted feels good. And it’s right.
But in general, Republicans judge their candidates by how much we hate them. So any hate will do.
But we can’t just blame Republicans.
The thing that pisses me off most right now is Democratic candidates who are attractive in many ways appealing to better angels of very online Dems and raising tons of money for unwinnable races by saying “I WILL DEFEAT MTG IF YOU GIVE ME A G.”
Is it fair to call them scammers? Probably! Maybe not.
They’d like to win. Sure! But they’re spreading false hope.
And that false hope ties into a very real need for Democrats to compete everywhere. But believe me: if you’ve heard of a Republican enough to hate him, his opponent will have all the money needed to win, if winning is a possibility.
There are so many unknown, ignored Republicans who are just as terrible as the ones we know about. Let’s beat them because keeping the GOP out of majorities is the only way to punish the worst of the worst, who generally are in districts so safe they could not lose them if they came out as trans and started dating Hunter Biden.
If people have time to give, what are the most effective ways to give it?
What I’ve read is that knocking doors is the most effective thing you can do besides becoming a billionaire donor. It’s a pandemic and Social Anxiety is my astrological sign so I get avoiding all that. Phone banking is also helpful and far easier.
But just elevating good candidates, good ads and good causes is important. Almost as important as not elevating candidates who cannot win, even if their ads and causes are good.
If people have money to give, where do you suggest they give it?
If you only have one donation to give, help us take back the Michigan Senate and secure our state’s electoral votes. It’s the house most likely to swing to Democrats this year, according to Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball, thanks to fairer maps. And we can win it, cheap.
Otherwise, follow Give Smart and obey. They’re doing the work for us.
What’s your biggest worry about 2022?
Losing the US Senate and then watching Mitch McConnell leave every possible court vacancy open, possibly for eternity.
What’s your biggest hope?
Keeping the US House. I’ve decided to be as unemotional about politics as possible because it’s too disappointing otherwise. Still there’s always a part of me that believes time wounds all heels. People are too smart to let the bad guys win again and again. But that part of me needs to shut up.
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Are there ways to cut campaign funding to GOP candidates that would benefit from a well planned social media push? For example, most Democrats bank with big banks that use the profits they make from our deposits, credit card interest, loan interest & investment accounts to donate generously to Republicans. What if Democrats had a financial protest week? Moving as much Dem money as possible to banks that support Dem candidates & causes (there are several)? This “armchair activism” could potentially cut off significant funding to the GOP while encouraging more investment in Dem candidates.
I agree give smart but I would caution don't write off all longshot candidates because they will likely lose. They can drive up party voter turnout that can affect statewide elections. I saw this first hand in Pennsylvania and in reverse in Virginia with Youngkin. Do a little research into the candidates and their funding.