For many progressive millennials, the election of Donald Trump was both a wake-up call and a call to action. In the week since Trump has taken office, millions have taken to the streets to protest his presidency. Hoping to turn that energy into sustainable action, one new political group is telling progressive millennials it's not enough to simply cast ballots, you have to be on them. It's a message that reportedly seems to be striking a chord with many. In the week since Trump was sworn into office, more than 1,200 millennials have signed up to run for office with Run For Something, the political recruitment and support organization claimed Friday.
While the loss of the White House certainly served as a major blow to Democrats, it wasn't the party's only setback. In the 2016 election, Democrats also failed to make major gains in the House or wrestle back control of the Senate from Republicans. Moreover, the party has faced losses in local races as well, according to Mother Jones, which reported Democrats lost 935 state legislative seats during President Barack Obama's eight years in office. Part of the problem, according to Run For Something, is that in some local races, Democratic candidates don't even run, leaving Republican candidates unopposed.
Founded by Amanda Litman, the former email director for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, and Ross Morales Rocket, an experienced progressive political operative, Run For Something is hoping to recruit (and support) progressives under the age of 35 into running for office in down-ballot races (think state legislatures, mayorships, and city councils) across the United States. While the group is focused on local elections, it hopes to build a more inclusive Democratic bench in an effort to strengthen and broaden what Run For Something calls the "talent pipeline" that leads up to seats in the House and Senate.
"The progressive movement has a systemic problem that has failed to create a diverse talent pipeline," the political nonprofit writes in a statement outlining its strategic plan for potential candidates and donors. "We don't have young people ready to move up in politics and we don't have a bench that looks the people we aim to represent."
While the Litman and Morales Rocket acknowledge that running for office can be a daunting and intimidating task, they stress its importance in building sustained political action. "The truth is, the president isn't the most important person in our democracy – the citizen is," the duo said in a statement for Run For Something. "The institutions will outlast Trump, and if we don't do the work now of building a pipeline of future leaders, we won't be able to right his wrongs and move our country forward."
Even if you're not 100 percent sure your future involves running for elected office, Run For Something is urging any progressive millennial even remotely interested in getting more involved in politics to sign up to talk with them about what the process is like, what training is available, what race they could run in, and how they can help with seed money and networking.
While the process of growing the Democratic Party's talent pool will take time, Run For Something is hoping to use the energy of recent anti-Trump protests to encourage frustrated voters into taking matters into their own hands by becoming first-time candidates.