Interlude: After Ossoff

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Traitor Radio is committed to accessibility, which is why you’ll find an episode transcript below this list of local, grassroots and community resources that we promised we’d include in the show notes. This is a living list! To add a group or org doing resistance work and cultural change at the local level, email us: traitor radio at gmail dot com, or holler at us on twitter: @TraitorRadio.


A translucent image of Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff holding a microphone with an American flag in the foreground, and the caption: "Sad, shitty Tuesday."

ANDREA GRIMES: Hello, Traitors! I’m your host, Andrea Grimes. This is a brief interlude which I hope will provide a little bit of hope and maybe just a very tiny amount of yelling and cussing after Tuesday’s deflating special election losses.

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ANDREA: Tuesday night, Democrat Jon Ossoff lost a closely watched race in Georgia’s sixth district, to a Republican named Karen Handel. Handel is a homophobic bigot who thinks LGBTQ people shouldn’t have children, who would rather see people die than get cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood, and who thinks paying people a living wage is a bad idea. So, she’s a bad person.

This election was presented as a post-Trump test that would take the temperature of the progressive resistance to the 45 administration. After his loss, the takes are rolling in about how this is a massive blow to liberal politics, how Democrats may not recover, the sky is falling, and etc. and so on. But Ossoff didn’t lose big — in fact, he did pretty fucking well in a solidly Republican district, bringing a race that he would have been expected to lose by twenty points into the single digits. But I’m not here to talk about the numbers breakdown, or to make a big pronouncement about What Democrats Should Do Next and What Democrats Did Wrong and Bernie Would Have Won, etc. and so on. I’m here to talk about what’s next for people, not political parties. Which is what we do here on Traitor Radio.

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ANDREA: Take it from me, a Texas librul progressive socialist feminazi: Losing elections is shitty, but there are so many other ways to make change. I’m not saying elections don’t matter, or that folks shouldn’t bust ass trying to get bigots out of office. They should! But voters get exhausted and angry and disengaged when they believe that elections are the sole measure of social change. And then they think it doesn’t matter if they vote, and who even cares, and everything is the worst, and < hide in house with Netflix > Add that to deliberate, racist gerrymandering, and you get a circular, self-reinforcing problem. But if you show people that community organizing and cultural change can improve their, and their neighbors’, lives — they perk up. And it has the added benefit of making life less shitty for marginalized folks even if their elected officials don’t give a fuck. Of course we need elected representatives who are invested in social justice; but we need a community that’s invested in social justice, too. We need communities that don’t excuse racism, that don’t tolerate transphobia, that celebrate queer folks, that believe abortion is health care and no human is illegal. We can start building those communities NOW. We don’t need Jon Ossoff, or Bernie Sanders, or Hillary Clinton to give us permission to build those communities. That’s why marches and rallies and community meetings are so vital — they don’t have to be about elections. They can be about people.

It’s part of why I started @TraitorRadio. We can’t win every election all the time, but we can be better to each other in the meantime. I’m at the cynical point where I actually think extra-governmental community support and cultural change is the only way forward. We have an unpetitionable government, and districts aren’t drawn for the people, but the party — the GOP, in this case. So if your candidate loses, and they will, turn to your friends, your family and your neighbors and ask: What can we do outside the system? Or, what can you do to actually disrupt the system? For example: join up with and donate your money to the national bail-out movement. Led by Black activists, this project raises funds to get people out of jail and home to their children, their partners, their communities. (You don’t have to Google it right this second — I’ll put a link to the bail-out website, and to some other movement-building resources, in the show notes.)    

Candidates and political campaigns don’t build cultural change. They react to cultural change. That’s why it’s so important to invest our time and our money in local, grassroots groups and direct services organizations that work FROM their communities and FOR their communities — not just for a candidate or a party.

We can’t wait for elections — and then the legislative process, and then the court system — to do cultural change for us. Those are important and necessary things! But they follow community demand. We have to build our demand at the grassroots level. When you work with your community to get people invested in dismantling their privilege, you create political demand for that down the line. It can’t simply all rest on one sad fucking shitty Tuesday.

Resistance and cultural change is every day, all day.

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Stay tuned to Traitor Radio for ways you can make your community a more just, equitable place — meet people you never thought you’d meet, and learn how to leverage your privilege not just with lawmakers, but with your friends and loved ones. Change starts in your backyard. Let’s do this.

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