Primaries are over! Not all my candidates won, and I’m betting that not all of yours did either. But Minnesota saw an amazing election turnout, and we can now shift the focus from ourselves to our actual opponents. As a newcomer to the senate district DFL, I have been really energized by the excitement and commitment I’ve seen this summer. Here are a few of the ideas that I want to keep top-of-mind from now until election day.

Minnesota is super-duper competitive this year

I think this is one of the first years in recent memory that Minnesota is consistently making national political news. Four out of the eight house districts — the Eighth (around Duluth), the Third (Northwest of the Twin Cities), the First (along Minnesota’s Southern border), and the Second (Southeast of the Twin Cities) — could all feasibly swing either way according the FiveThirtyEight house election model. Our governor’s race, which is rated with a slight advantage for Tim Walz, is a must win for Minnesota Democrats, and the Minnesota House is the 2018 battleground for our state’s political power. I say this to emphasize that while November creeps into view, more people will be getting involved, tuning in, and ready to vote. And every neighbor, friend, or stranger with which I can share my perspective on the Democratic Party represents one more potential vote. What’s more, we have a lot to brag about this year: 2018 has fielded a more diverse and energetic set of candidates than ever before, and they are hitting the pavement and working the grassroots to sell our message.

Democrats are evolving with the times / Republicans are dancing to the same old song

Democrats are the Big Tent Party, which means Republicans will always win on simple messaging, but don’t let that get you down! We can walk and chew gum at the same time! As the folks at the Poor People’s Campaign point out, our society is due for a moral revival. They see a “complex relationship between and across the systemic racism, persistent poverty, the war economy, and its inevitable militarism, and ecological devastation.” And lest you think this is just a response to the venerable #45, this is a call for justice across society that includes the Democratic Party. Wrestling political power away from those who embody our worst instincts is priority number one but pushing for real reform requires empathy and compassion. These are values that Democrats should express in our conversations, debates, and policies and from which our political leaders shouldn’t run away. So, embrace the complexity and explain our values. This, I hope, will show voters we have a real passion for solving America’s problems.

Don’t let the Trump show keep you in the dumps, get involved!

As Howard Zinn notes, “It is the present that haunts a serious spinner of futuristic tales.” Certain days you can almost taste the dumpster-fire fumes emanating from the White House and it seems that the character of our national debate could seamlessly unwind into a dystopic science fiction novel. So, if some days our present feels a bit too unreal, than our answer must be people working in local communities, interacting and coalescing around the change in which they believe.

My involvement with the senate district has changed my perspective on the importance of grassroots, local groups. Not only do they provide a place to stay updated about various elections, but building local relationships pushes you to learn about what is important to other community members and expands your opportunities to get involved in ways that truly represent your ideals. I’ve also come to believe that many local issues affect you more directly than national ones. And yet, even while it can be impossible to tear your gaze from the daily onslaught, our moral revival will surely come from our efforts on the ground: canvassing, organizing, and listening.

Author: Nathan West