Taking it from the streets to the ballot box

Protesters are seen outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday, May 3, 2022 after the leak of a draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito preparing for the court to overturn Roe v. Wade later this year.
Greg Nash
Protesters are seen outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday, May 3, 2022 after the leak of a draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito preparing for the court to overturn Roe v. Wade later this year.

This past weekend in cities big and small, in red states and blue, we saw tens of thousands of protesters taking to the streets, outraged by the leaked Supreme Court draft ruling that would overturn Roe v. Wadecriminalize abortion and strip us of our rights and freedoms. The images from the protests across the country all looked the same: a broad coalition of people of all ages, races, genders, and backgrounds coming together to say we are not going to sit idly by as Republicans look to roll back decades’ worth of progress. It was a powerful reminder that we are the majority. And a majority who will not allow ourselves to be ruled — and our basic freedoms oppressed — by the minority.

For organizations like mine, and for those who want to ensure our rights and freedoms are expanded and not taken away, our mission is to ensure that the energy, passion, and enthusiasm we saw in the streets last weekend will translate into votes in November. 

Because it is now evident to everyone that if the Supreme Court strikes down Roe, it will not be the action of just five justices, but rather the entire Republican Party. And it will crystalize what has been clear to many of us for some time: today’s Republican Party is more extreme, out-of-touch, and dangerously MAGA-supersized than ever before. 

And the MAGA party will not stop at overturning Roewhich we know will have an outsized impact on poor, Black, brown, rural, and trans communities. They are already making noise about overturning laws around contraception, marriage equality and even interracial marriage. They are banning books and targeting LGBTQ+ kids. They want to end the guarantee of Social Security and Medicare and raise taxes on half of all Americans. And they are attacking the foundation our democracy was built on: free and fair elections. 

The MAGA party Donald Trump spawned is pushing its radical vision of America all over Congress, our courts, our schools, and our bodies. And they don’t want to turn the clock back two years to when Trump was president; they want to turn the clock back generations.

“Don’t compare me to the Almighty. Compare me to the alternative” has long been one of President Biden’s favorite sayings. To win in November, we need to implement this strategy. Democrats need to make this election a choice. A choice of whether we are going to continue to move forward or instead go back to some of the darkest times in our nation’s history. 

We saw in the streets this weekend — and in polling since the leaked Supreme Court opinion — that the majority of people do not want to go back. They reject this extreme MAGA ideology. 

Yes, history is not on the side of Democrats this November. Nearly every modern president’s party has lost seats in the first midterm elections. But history doesn’t have to repeat itself. Eighty-one million people, the most in history, turned out to reject this very ideology two years ago. It can happen again. 

Americans who believe in the freedom to vote and reproductive freedom are squarely in the majority. The MAGA party has overplayed its hand, and we need to remind voters of this every day between now and Election Day. We need to take the outrage resulting from Republicans’ stripping away our rights and freedoms and channel it into votes. In pundit speak, we need to “close the enthusiasm gap.” If the protests are any indication, we have the power to do just that.

We also need to have a laser-like focus on turning out people who voted for the first time in 2018 or 2020 but may not this year without a push. These “surge voters” were key to winning back the House in 2018 and the White House and Senate in 2020. These voters tend to be younger, more active online, and less political. They came out to reject Trump and the MAGA mindset twice before, and they are likely to be the margin of victory needed in key Senate and House races. We must meet them where they are and make sure they understand the critical choice we face in this election. 

Republicans, who were already measuring the drapes in the Speaker’s office, were counting on voter enthusiasm being on their side in November. But the leaked Supreme Court ruling has changed the game. It awakened a sleeping majority in this country and exposed everyone to the extremism of the MAGA incarnation of the Republican Party. 

If we do the work, we can take the winning coalition in the streets this weekend to the ballot box. And if we do, for the third election in a row, we will defeat this extreme ideology. 

Epting is the executive director of MoveOn, one of the largest political advocacy organizations in the country, with millions of members. 

Tags Biden Donald Trump leaked SCOTUS ruling Roe v. Wade supreme court abortion ruling

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