Electoral politics require mobilization, organization and opportunity.
As of Nov. 7, former Vice President Joe Biden is the president-elect of the United States. Biden’s campaign defied expectations in several traditionally conservative states that ended up going blue.
Georgia was the most surprising among these. Joe Biden, a Democrat. won over 10,000 more votes than Donald Trump in a state that hasn’t gone blue in a presidential race since 1992.
It was also the first Southern state to vote for a Democratic candidate in a presidential election since 1996.
The American South has been defined by conservative politics and the Republican Party for the last 20 years. The only Democratic candidates to garner widespread support below the Mason-Dixon line have been those who had been governors in those states. Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton have been exceptions to the Republican rule that’s been in effect since Nixon’s “Southern strategy.”
The coordinated political behavior exhibited throughout history in the South is what makes Georgia’s deviation so important. The election results in Texas, North Carolina and Georgia are just the beginning of a major transitional period in American politics. Blue cracks are starting to appear on the edges of the Southern wall.
Shifting demographic trends show the South growing in diversity. Hispanic, Black and Asian-American communities have been rapidly expanding across several major Southern states.
New community leaders and Democratic candidates have revitalized political networks that have been seemingly dormant for decades.
Yet, despite the blue shift in Georgia, most other Southern states still voted overwhelmingly in Trump’s favor.
Trump won Louisiana by a margin of 58.5% to Biden’s 39.8%, a difference of about 400,000 votes — a significant margin by all accounts, and one of the highest turnouts in Louisiana election history, with close to 70% of eligible voters casting their ballots overall.
Large-scale political organization and mobilization is what turned the tables in Georgia. Shifting demographics made the race in Georgia especially close, but with a modified approach, Louisiana could see its very own blue wave soon.
Former State Representative Stacey Abrams was the catalyst and inspiration for Georgia’s increasingly Democratic politics. Louisiana needs its own Stacey Abrams, but only a few people are equipped for the role.
Gov. John Bel Edwards is primed for that position. However, he has shown an unwillingness to take on the role as the Democratic Party leader in Louisiana. Edwards’ politics are not in line with the national party platform, especially when it comes to the subject of abortion — an issue that has defined his statewide popularity.
Edwards has never shown a propensity toward helping other Democrats establish a large-scale framework. His decision to avoid establishing a statewide political network during his campaign for office was a wasted opportunity and reflective of the Louisiana Democratic organization as a whole.
The state party must reprioritize and organize.
Democrats can win in Louisiana. The most realistic path for progressive politics in Louisiana in the last decade has been through concession, organization and opportunistic politics. Bel Edwards and Mary Landrieu both won state elections during the same timeframe the state voted red in a presidential election.
But not much has changed for us. Louisiana’s demographics are not shifting at the same rates as those in key battleground states like Georgia or Texas, meaning Democrats in our state have to play smart politics.
Running honest and respectable candidates with policy proposals their constituents support isn’t always enough — but it’s a good start.
Local organizations are essential to effectively mobilize voting blocs that are otherwise often repressed or underrepresented due to historically low participation rates.
A new generation of community activists and organizers is being born through the civil unrest that issues like COVID-19, police brutality, the election and the rest of 2020 have brought to the forefront of the public’s mind.
To hopeful Southern progressives: there is a road to a new South that is defined by and celebrated for its diversity, ingenuity and integrated culture. That road will be paved by hands-on work at the community level combined with an effective organization on the state level.
To everyone else: please don’t give up on us. The oppressed and impoverished who are living under political systems not meant to serve them deserve a chance to break out. and progress is only possible through a concerted effort of dedicated individuals.
Cory Koch is a 21-year-old political science senior from Alexandria.