Why Advocacy and Elections Matter

by Joe Fuld (He/Him)

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Advocacy and Elections: Love, Marriage, and Health Care

Advocacy and elections matter.  If you have not read the opinions from last week’s Supreme Court rulings, you should check them out. You can read summaries of the opinions on marriage equality here, and excerpts on the Affordable Care Act ruling here. The opinions are amazing and the words of the majority opinion make me proud, but also sadden me, because there’s still a lot more work to be done and our opponents aren’t going to stop anytime soon.

Both the decision on marriage and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would not have been predicted just a few years ago.

Those who executed legal advocacy strategies around these issues should be commended for their foresight—we know that justice can move slowly, but voters and our country need a push sometimes. If the ACA or gay marriage was left to voters as a referendum, I am sad to say they may not have been passed in my lifetime. The same could have been said for other civil rights advances. I have not always loved the decisions of the Supreme Court, but today I am proud of the system we have and how well it can work.

I’m also reminded of why elections matter so much. We have three justices who made these decisions who are over the age of 75. It is likely that the next president will appoint all three new justices. It will be hard for these advances to be rolled back completely. But make no mistake, as with Roe, the opposition will try to undo these decisions, and with three conservative justices they may succeed.
So what can we, as progressives, learn from the Thursday and Friday decisions? Keep fighting, both through advocacy and elections.

There is still a lot of work to do, for equal pay, immigration, criminal justice reform, climate change, abortion, the right to organize, voting rights for DC, death with dignity, and non-discrimination. Don’t think for a moment that the fight for progressive values is over. We need to keep fighting, both in the courts and through elections.

The presidency still matters. Obama had a profound impact on marriage, and his support of marriage equality helped to push public opinion in the right direction. Similarly, the ACA made a big difference in people’s lives, and while I would still like a single-payer system it’s an important start that wouldn’t have been possible without presidential backing.

Be happy we don’t have ballot measures in 50 states. We lost a lot of battles in the past few years and yes (we won some too) but ballot measures are a poor way to make decisions about civil rights issues.

Be passionate about change, do not give up the fight, and be thankful for the amazing, smart, and talented people who cared as deeply about these issues as you do and laid the ground-work for these changes. And of course, know that there are still amazing people out there fighting for our values everyday. Advocacy and elections matter, and they’ll help to ensure that you can love who you want, get the health care you need, and keep fighting for progress.