How do we stop Trump? Vote like black women

The fastest way to get a tongue lashing from my black Southern Baptist grandmother was to utter three simple words: I didn’t vote.

My mother’s mother, Anna Mae Crawford, was born in 1919, 46 years before passage of the 1965 Civil Rights Act which gave black people the right vote and 89 years before Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaO'Rourke receives invite to visit Iowa from Democratic Party in Des Moines Overnight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Mattis defends border deployment during visit to troops | Bolton aide exits WH after clash with first lady | House blocks Yemen war resolution | Report warns of erosion in US military superiority Mattis defends border deployment, likens it to 1916 effort against Pancho Villa MORE became the first black person elected president. It was also 97 years before Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpMeet the lawyer Democrats call when it's recount time Avenatti denies domestic violence allegations: 'I have never struck a woman' Trump names handbag designer as ambassador to South Africa MORE, running a platform of nationalism and xenophobia, became our 45th president.

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Grandma knew what generations of black women have known to be true: There is tremendous power in voting, even though politicians more committed to protecting the rich and powerful instead of all the people sometimes win.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Trump, who told supporters, “You know what I am? I’m a nationalist, okay?” doesn’t just protect the wealthy; he also thrives on pitting us against each other. His recent declaration that he would issue an executive order to repeal birthright citizenship that is embedded in the 14th Amendment is one of several “October surprises” designed to inflame the Republican base ahead of the midterm elections.

As a black, gay, progressive activist who heard his grandmother talk about her personal experiences with racism before I was born, I wasn’t convinced by the media’s proclamations of a new, “post-racial” America after Obama was elected. But I believed we had made more progress than we apparently have.

The divider in chief is a wound that we, the American people, brought upon ourselves, and we’re likely stuck with him until November 2020. But we can hit the brakes on at least some of the damage he’s causing.

How can we pull the country back from the brink of a Trump-created disaster? Instead of just thanking them for being the most reliable Democratic constituency, we should vote like black women.

Since the 1990s, they have shown up and shown out at the polls driven by pocketbook issues such as liveable wages and affordable college over the flashy personalities of candidates, prompting Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom PerezThomas Edward PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE to tweet, “Black women are the backbone of the Democratic Party.”

According to exit polling from CNN, more than 90 percent of African-American females voted for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMeet the lawyer Democrats call when it's recount time Overnight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Mattis defends border deployment during visit to troops | Bolton aide exits WH after clash with first lady | House blocks Yemen war resolution | Report warns of erosion in US military superiority Exit polls show more women breaking with Republicans MORE in 2016. In 2017, they powered crucial Democratic victories in the Alabama Senate race and the Virginia governor’s race.

Though they have higher turnout rates than almost every other demographic, they alone can’t save us from Trump’s Republican Party. The rest of us—men of all races: white, Asian, and Latina women; and especially the 46 percent of people who did not vote in 2016 — need to do our parts.

If we do that, candidates who are running on bold progressive populist platforms will be elected, and we’ll begin to have political representation that looks like America. This is crucial, because we can’t truly have government of and by the people unless all the people are represented. It would mean that we could focus on crafting solutions like Medicare for All that would ensure that everyone can see a doctor when they need to.

We could put an end to the failed decades-long War on Drugs that has made America one of the most incarcerated countries on the planet. We could prioritize public education funding and boost teacher salaries so they can survive without having to work second or third jobs.

Progressives are optimistic about the possibility of a blue wave in next week’s elections that could see Democrats regain control of the House and possibly the Senate. But we need more than hope to make the dream of ending GOP control of Congress a reality.

My grandmother believed so strongly in the power of voting that only one thing could stop her from exercising that right that so many fought so hard for. She passed away shortly after voting for President Obama’s reelection by absentee ballot in 2012. If she could make that strong of a commitment to vote even as her body was failing, so can we.

Michael Crawford is the Campaign Director of MoveOn.