On Wednesday, The Atlantic profiled a Democratic organization known as Future Now. The goal of this group is to build a long-term progressive agenda that can be put into action within a decade — but its primary strategy is not going to be unseating President Donald Trump.
Instead, its goal is to claw back Democratic strength in state legislatures:
"I don't think this is a crisis that was created by Donald Trump, and I don’t think it's solved by beating him. I think that he is a reflection of a really broken politics," one of the co-founders, former State Senator Daniel Squadron of New York, told me. "State legislatures are the most important part of American civic life that's been forgotten, except by the worst elements of politics and vested special interests. We have decided to focus all of our energy on the least glamorous, often most frustrating part of politics."
According to The Atlantic, Future Now encompasses a political action fund, an advocacy group, and a set of model legislation that lawmakers can introduce.
In this way, it seeks to be the liberal answer to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative "bill mill" that many GOP state legislators use to crib policy on everything from immigration policy to energy deregulation.
The past decade saw Democrats lose hundreds of seats in state legislatures, with the GOP cementing a solid hold on legislative chambers in the South and in many critical swing states. That has had profound consequences on everything from abortion access to collective bargaining rights — and because Republican legislatures have tended to enact aggressive gerrymandering and voter suppression, it's hard for voters to push back on these policies.
In the 2018 midterm elections, Democrats made substantial gains, winning full control of the state legislatures of Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, and New York, as well as the state House of Minnesota, and gaining seats elsewhere. In the next few years, Democrats plan to make moves for more — and possibly change the whole topography of local government.