Column, Politics

Column: Gaining Yards, by Michael Racioppo

In a few Sundays, millions of us will shout out at the television insistantly “Move the Chains” as our football teams – in my case the Giants – advance for a first down on their march down field to hopefully put points on the board. At the risk of flooding the zone with sports metaphors and alienating those who don’t care about football, I think moving the chains describes the advancement of social change through elections very well. I couldn’t help but think of this as I saw Bernie Sanders supporters during the Democratic National Convention. Sanders

They have great energy and believe deeply in a more just society. But many are new to this grueling game with its share of arcane rules. They fail to understand that a Hail Mary pass thrown 60 yards downfield doesn’t get to win the most powerful office in the world. (Well maybe you can if you are an unprincipled reality TV huckster.)

It takes long and somewhat boring work that many people aren’t willing to do or don’t engage in early enough. It is the most necessary element of advancing an agenda. To use another football metaphor, it generally takes “3 yards and a cloud of dust.” Bernie has implored his supporters to take this energy and use it to get involved in local politics – just like he did.

People that supported Bernie (and Hillary) should take the energy that they’ve shown and register voters, make sure races for state legislatures and municipal government have better turnouts, and act like every vote counts all the time because it does.

I have supported Hillary throughout, but now there is added urgency. I am all in for Hillary but if she doesn’t have progressive legislators supporting her agenda across the country, it will likely be stymied in ways that President Obama’s agenda has been frustrated.

In Brooklyn, this means getting involved in participatory budgeting, community boards, petitioning for candidates to get on ballots or joining a political club. If people who were passionate about Bernie’s candidacy don’t stay involved, they will fail to alter the process and perpetuate the problems and issues that fueled the Bernie movement. The rigging can be altered by more experienced hands, so long as they are not co-opted, and we can sail off into a beautiful sunset.

There is some truth in the saying “you get the democracy you deserve” and before we deserve a perfect, or near perfect one, we have to gain some yards and “move the chains!”

If you’re reading this and want to get involved, but aren’t sure how feel free to email me at

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