On November 8, 2016, Brand Strategist Miriam Stone woke up feeling energized. The election of Hillary Clinton loomed large, as did the upcoming birth of Miriam’s second daughter; her girls would grow up under America’s first female President. But the day after the devastating blow of Trump’s victory, Miriam’s thoughts were of her grandmother, a Hillary supporter and lifelong political activist.
“She would have shrugged and said ‘Ok, well, time to keep fighting,’” Miriam remarks. “Political action was part of my grandmother’s daily life—it didn’t matter who was in power.” But Miriam and her husband, Josh Krafchin, an entrepreneur and developer, lived in the decidedly blue city of Oakland. How could they make a difference?
Meanwhile in Amherst, Massachusetts, writer and teacher Ethan Todras-Whitehill was researching swing districts. With Republicans in control of the House and the Senate, Ethan understood that Democrats needed to work towards flipping the House during the 2018 mid-term elections. But finding solid information about swing districts was challenging.
Days after the election, Ethan and Josh, longtime best friends, had a call to discuss developing a solution: a tool that would connect people in blue cities to their nearest swing district. As the concept started taking shape, Miriam was quickly looped in. “Ethan had the initial idea, he was the most politically savvy of the three of us,” she explains. “Josh is the technical guy, the one who was really about bringing the vision to life. I was the branding, marketing and messaging person figuring out the story we should tell and how to tell it.”
Eight days after the election, Miriam sent an email with the subject heading “Turn your election grief into action,” seeking volunteers from among the many writers and creatives in her network. Leveraging personal connections, a team was quickly assembled. On January 19, 2017—the day before Trump’s inauguration—SwingLeft.org was live and viral. Within three weeks, they had 17,000 volunteer applications and over 300,000 people signed up, awaiting next steps.
Taking Back the House
SwingLeft.org helps you find your nearest swing district and participate in campaigns and activities that work towards taking back the House. But why is this important? “Republicans control all three branches of government [currently], and it feels like Trump’s really unchecked,” Miriam cautions. “But we don’t have to wait three years for him to leave; flipping the House is the first thing we can do to put a check on him.”
In districts where Republicans won seats by small margins, it’s possible for a Democrat to be elected into the seat, allowing for greater accountability of an administration that seems increasingly out of control. Miriam references the Republican tax bill as an example, stating, “They pushed it through, but it wasn’t something that most Americans wanted. If the Democrats controlled the House, that would have been a lot harder.”
Like Flippable, Indivisible and several other organizations powered by the Resistance, Swing Left represents tangible activism that gives people easy ways to effectively donate their time and money. And with last fall’s Democratic successes in Virginia and Alabama, it seems that a blue wave is slowly rising. Still, Miriam is cautious. “If anything, the Trump election taught us that all core wisdom we thought we knew is out the window,” she declares.
Regardless of outcome, Swing Left is an example of what can happen when communities mobilize into action. Miriam remains a Senior Advisor on Swing Left’s Leadership team, inspired by her activist grandmother and the pursuit of a brighter future for her two girls. “We just have to fight like hell and hope for the best,” she asserts.
Swing Left hopes to flip the House via:
- Voter Contact. Learn about districts, connect with local organizers, aid with voter registration in the months and weeks leading up to the mid-term elections.
- Fundraising for Candidates. Donate to District Funds, which are given to the eventual Democratic winner of the primary.
- Cultural Mobilization. Change the cultural narrative to get voters as excited about mid-term elections as they are about presidential elections.
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