by Brent Budowsky
Early this week Tom Steyer, the billionaire Democrat and leading environmentalist and progressive, pledged to donate at least $30 million to elect a Democratic Congress, and doubled down on his commitment to a group called NextGen America, which is intensely focused on registering new voters to revitalize American democracy.
This powerful commitment by Steyer, who deserves great credit for putting his money behind his cause, could well register enough new voters to elect Democrats in tight races and restore control of the House and Senate to Democrats.
Registering new voters and getting them to the polls should be the great mission for every Democrat who fights for America to defeat attacks against our democracy by a Russian strongman and the corruption of our democracy by a president who exploits his office to enhance his wealth, abuses his power to divide our people and violates a cardinal rule of Americanism by treating political opponents like enemies of the state.
Steyer understands the great political truth about American politics in 2018, that no cause is more important to the future of America than registering new voters and getting them to the polls, because this cause elects the leaders with the power to determine the fate of all causes. Tribalism from Trump will be defeated by Americanism from Democrats if those who comprise the vast melting pot of America, a notion the president disrespects and dishonors, are motivated to register and vote for nobler leaders.
While Republicans in many states engage in massive attacks against voting rights, and Republicans in many states engage in aggressive campaigns of voter suppression against poor and minority voters, Steyer and NextGen America are among those coming to the rescue of democracy by walking in the footsteps of the founding fathers, suffragettes and the civil rights giants — including many Republicans in better times — who bettered the nation with the Voting Rights Act that is now under fierce attack.
If Democrats have learned anything from the disastrous victory of Donald Trump in 2016 and the ground shaking victory of Doug Jones in Alabama in 2017, it is this:
It’s the turnout, stupid.
What matters most is not whether Oprah runs for president in 2020, but whether she turns her stirring words and uplifting aspirations into concrete actions backed by real money and personal commitment to champion the causes she passionately supports, and defeat the wrongs she passionately condemns — by registering and mobilizing voters for midterm elections as Steyer is doing.
In a recent column singing the praises of the Hollywood women who have risen to devote their hearts, money and talent to lift the lives of women everywhere, I suggested they help lead a great crusade to register female voters as America prepares to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the constitutional amendment that granted women the right to vote in August 1920.
The growing activism in Hollywood, the visionary commitment of Steyer, the good works of NextGen America and similar groups, the surging black turnout in Alabama and Virginia, the rising clout of women, the passion of young people who are energizing American politics and the powerful movement for fair and decent immigration laws are all part of a national renewal, resistance and mobilization against Trump Republicans in the White House and Congress.
Women, blacks, Hispanics, seniors and young people have it within their voting power to defeat a president who foments national division, exploits racial tension, and demonizes whole groups of Americans while his party makes a mockery of calling itself the party of Lincoln by waging hostile and anti-democratic attacks against their right to vote.
Polls prove and Tom Steyer understands that if those who comprise the majority of the nation register and vote for the America they love, they are destined to prevail. All of the machinations from the White House, the one-party swampland of the Republican Congress and diabolical plots against American democracy from the Kremlin cannot defeat them — if only they vote.