The new 116th Congress has been sworn in and we have a Democratic majority in the House. How do these new dynamics change our approach to organizing and activism?
Short answer: It doesn’t.
One of the wake up calls for so many of us was that we were not as engaged and aware of what was going on in Congress or in our state legislatures as we should have been. Having a direct threat like Trump in the White House and full Republican control of Congress got the fires lit and we marched, called, wrote, and started to be clear with our elected representatives as to what we wanted.
With a Democratic House, that does not change. They still need to hear from their constituents. The thing that’s changed is that now that we have control of one of the chambers, we can make MORE asks of our Reps in the House. Under the Republicans, who use the Hastert Rule*, the Democrats had no hope of seeing any legislation go to the floor for a vote. But now, they can introduce and sponsor legislation.
Furthermore, now that they have control of the committees, they have the power to conduct oversight, issue subpoenas, and hold hearings. This is a critical area where we can push the Democrats to get important things done.
Indivisible recently released a video that captures all of this. I encourage you to watch–it’s less than 2 minutes.
Again, now is the time to know what really matters to you. You are a busy person and don’t have all day to spend on activism. But you want to make a difference. Know the issue or issues you want to push on and make sure your Representatives, Senators, and state legislators know the work you want them to do.
* Republicans have long used the Hastert Rule when they control the House. The Hastert Rule says that the GOP will only bring legislation to the floor for a vote if 1) it is legislation drafted by the Republicans and 2) a majority of the Republican caucus supports the legislation.