If you knew me better, you would know that I hate being wrong. I despise it. Do everything I can to avoid it. Which is to say, that, for once, I hope I’m wrong. For this one time (and only this one time), I hope I spend tomorrow hearing all about the stupidity of my forthcoming election prediction. I don’t think Jon Ossoff is going to win the Georgia 6th seat, and I also think we (as Democrats) will be ok.
As I’m typing this, the election still hasn’t been decided. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I have seen that the early returns aren’t looking good.) Yet, Ossoff could still ride that wave of support and donations into a surprise victory. Even before the disheartening returns, though, I wasn’t convinced. Georgia is a tough state and this is a tough seat. Ossoff is young and inexperienced (#sorrynotsorry). Don’t get me wrong, I like him. I think it is good that he’s running and even better that he’s doing so well. (Hell, I even donated money to his campaign.) Even moreso, I think we need to start running more candidates like Ossoff. Young, exciting, determined. These are adjectives that should be helping to guide our search for the new blood of the Democratic party. We’ve been old and white and predictable for long enough. (And yes, Bernie fits into that last category. Don’t even get me started on his comments on Ossoff.)
But, regardless of tonight;s outcome, Ossoff is not the savior of the Democratic party. This one seat is not going to turn the House blue. (And it’ll be back for grabs on 2018.) It is not going to destroy the Trump Administration. Honestly, I’m not even sure it is any sort of predictor in terms of 2018. Special elections are, as the title suggests, special. Georgia 6 is currently a dastardly concoction of factors that will certainly not be present in most any of the 2018 house races. 2018 races are not going to be incumbent-free. 2018 races are not going to have the eyes of the entire country on them. 2018 races are going to be held in states with completely different political landscapes.
I live in a House swing district. The district next door is also a swing district. The local Democratic group is already strategizing on the best ways to flip them blue. Ossoff’s race only impacts those plans if we let them. Having a candidate with this much unexpected success and who raised this much money is the gift in the form of a guide book. What worked for Ossoff this time can be extrapolated. State and local organizers have an example that they can take and make their own. Maybe the fundraising structure would work great in New Hampshire. Or the door-knocking strategy could be implemented in Pennsylvania. An Ossoff victory will not be a determined moment of deliverance, nor will his defeat spell failure for the foreseeable future. (Unless we use it as an excuse to be disheartened and disgruntled.)
Elections are important. We’re learning that now more than ever under the erratic reign of our egotistical ruler. But, they come back around. I’m not saying this because I want to offer some bullshit cliché to make you feel better. I’m not saying it to minimize how hard people worked and how disappointed they must feel. I’m saying it because it is true. I’m saying it because Democrats have seemingly been looking at these special elections as a referendum on Trump. As if victory in these elections could be a surefire sign that he’s terrible/abhorrent/unacceptable and we will be assured victory in 2018. Whatever Trump’s downfall looks like, I promise that it will not be what we expect and it will certainly not be unanimous. (Look at polling around Nixon/Watergate.) And, in terms of his abhorrence, if we’re looking for a sign to authorize our anger, then we’ve already lost anyway.