It's over! Joe Biden is President-Elect, and Kamala Harris is not only the first female VP, but she’s also the first African American and South Asian female VP. After days of watching the ballot tracking via map masters like Steve Kornacki and doom scrolling through Twitter, we finally received the results. Something that’s certain is major victories in swing states like Arizona played a big role.
This week, we're joined by Reginald Bolding to talk about his work in Arizona's battle state on What We Don't Know; Swing States. Bolding came on to discuss his career as co-executive director of Our Voice, Our Vote, or OVOV, an Arizona membership-based organization whose mission is to mobilize new voters and elect officials that work towards progressive policies.
It's (OVOV) primarily focused on making sure that our (multi-racial) community has a seat at the table, and they can flex their muscle." Bolding explains, "We are engaged in electoral work and making sure that we are fighting to put people in office that represent the values that our communities care about."
Watch this short video about Reginald's approach to education
Bolding has been a member of the Arizona House Of Representatives since 2015, and he recently defeated Republican Tatiana Pena on the 3rd to remain in his seat in the 27th district, where he's currently the minority whip.
Representatives like Reginald are essential to the democratic party, particularly in a swing state like Arizona. A Whip is like a hype man/woman for significant issues or, as the U.S States Senate defines them, an assistant to the floor leaders elected by their party conferences. The majority and minority whips are responsible for mobilizing voters.
But What Is a Swing State?
The very idea of winning a state by its declared political party became notable during the Civil War. The republican party took over the midwest while Northern states voted for Lincoln. The term 'Swing State' is relatively common today, however, it didn't stick until the infamous 2000 election between Gore and Bush. The fight over Florida's battleground state made history for Gore's challenge of Bush's slim victory. It was reminding us all that every vote indeed does count. America is known for its blue and red political divisions of Republican and Democrat since the 1850s.
This CNN clip clears up some myths about the Swing States
Other minor parties that pop up every few elections are The Libertarian, Green, and Constitutional parties. The Libertarian Party was formed in 1971. The Green Party started in the 80s and tended to be more left by focusing on environmental concerns and social justice. Still, it's labeled nonpartisan and the Constitutional party, founded in 2010, which leans conservative with pro-life and anti-immigration views. Still, Americans are used to having it always come down to the Elephant or the Donkey come election day.
The majority of all 50 states in America have an overwhelming preference for being more liberal or conservative. Without looking at a color-coded map, many of us could name a "red state" like South Carolina and a "blue state" such as New York, but there's a reason why 13 American states classify as battleground states. These states, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin, are commonly known as swing states. They have no explicit declaration of red or blue. Some refer to these states where presidential candidates focus on winning over every four years as purple states.
According to History News, three central components make up a swing state:
This 2020 election was all about flipping states and senate seats for many voters and community leaders. With the help of various organizations and fundraisers, moderate states eventually swayed either red or blue. Many organizations work to shift key states one way or the other. SwingLeft.org is a well-known group that works towards turning states democratic. Adopt A State attracts religious voters who support Trump and campaigns like the Big 5 Battleground Fund and Bolding's organization, Our Voice Our Vote.
What Is Our Voice Our Vote Doing?
Last week, we talked to Mondale Robinson about how reaching black communities by presenting them with tools to address black men's concerns is essential. That is similar to how Bolding and his organization work to swing Arizona. Our Voice Our Vote is a unique group that works to turn Arizona to the left. It is a black-led organization that focuses on issues that motivate youth, such as quality schooling, equal housing, criminal justice reform, and environmental policies.
"They may be young, but they're definitely leaders," Bolding explains of his young members, "Their families who have never been civically engaged or voting or participating, they're now fired up because their child is now working (as) part of a movement."
According to Bolding, 70-80% of OVOV hires are young individuals who have not previously felt inspired or involved in the political process. With this, OVOV focus on educating a new generation of informed and engaged voters. Bolding and his team have had their work cut out for them, and Arizona, it's 11 electoral votes.
Arizona has consistently been a red state, having last gone to the Democrats in 1996, pushing Bill Clinton to the win. McCain later won over Obama in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012 but still, only by small margins. Arizona is a state with flexible political allegiance. It's roughly 50/50 across the board, not just for the presidency but senate and governor election. Trump's win in 2016 was only by 3.5%, making the fight for Arizona an important one in this past election.
While things can change by the time you read this, as of November 4th, it looked clear that Arizona flipped blue with Biden over 51% and Trump trailing shortly behind under 47%.
As one of the few countries that still use the electoral college, we remain reliant on swing states in its unpredictable power and cliffhanger style surprise as we wait for those shades of purple to turn blue or red. Leaders like Reginal Bolding are significant in key states as they look to this year and years to come.
Bolding reflects on his excitement for the future in 2022 with the opportunity of a democratic governor.
That is foundational and change-making, especially when we want to make policies." He says, "On the criminal justice front itself, while we will still have a chamber of the legislature, we still need the governor's signature. To be able to change who is in the governor's office, that is one of the most impactful races that we are focused on that we know will make a huge difference."
To learn more about Reginald Bolding's grassroots organization, visit https://www.ourvoiceourvote.us/
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