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The voices we need to propel the Blue Wave to victory

Democratic candidate for Georgia Gov. Stacey Abrams greets

Democratic candidate for Georgia Gov. Stacey Abrams greets a crowd in Atlanta. Credit: AP / John Bazemore

With just over a month until this year’s midterms, political pundits are amping up their debate and analysis on political races’ front-runners, voter turnout and the much-cited blue wave. Indeed, the blue wave is real, and it will likely make history in November — but only if we all vote. Every vote matters.

Recent polling data on support for Democratic candidates indicate that voters are increasingly fired up about electing progressive candidates. For example, last year in Virginia, we saw electoral wins up and down the ticket with the help of 366,000 young voters and thousands of first-time voters who recently had their right to vote restored. And we’ve seen similar victories all across the country in special elections and primaries since then.

But the blue wave is not just about winning elections — it’s about creating change that makes a difference for communities: enacting better-paying jobs, expanding access to affordable health care, and expanded civil rights that every American deserves.

Case in point: due to the electoral wins in Virginia, state legislators were able to expand Medicaid. As a result, 400,000 low-income Virginians will have the health care they need and deserve. And imagine what they could do if Democrats controlled the Virginia state house, which was decided by just one vote.

Gubernatorial candidates Andrew Gillum, Stacey Abrams, David Garcia and Paulette Jordan clinched their primary wins in Florida, Georgia, Arizona and Idaho by offering progressive policy proposals. And in these Republican-controlled states, they are running in competitive general election races on important issues. And voters are listening.

From feelings of despair after Trump’s election to motivated resolve just days after his inauguration, millions of Americans have shown how hungry they are for new progressive political leadership, and as the leader of a national program that helps progressive candidates win their races, I’ve been privileged to witness these candidates’ campaigns gain momentum. But it’s going to take every voter from every walk of life to make the blue wave a reality. That includes first-time voters, formerly incarcerated people, young people, and racial and ethnic minorities that hold the power to transform our country’s future.

I’m proud to say that I work for a progressive organization that reaches out to those communities with campaigns that empower them to make their voices heard at the ballot box. And after years of pushing for transformative political change, I’m heartened to see so many diverse progressive candidates poised to make history.

But ultimately, it’s voters who can make that happen. This year’s progressive candidates are campaigning on the change we said we need — and it’s time for us to step up, vote and encourage our own neighbors to do the same. Let’s do the work to create that blue wave — and make history this November.

Lizet Ocampo is the political director for People for the American Way. She wrote this for