November 6, 2018

Chris Hayes's interview with Rebecca Traister on Monday's "All In" is worth the listen for those who care about the future of progressive politics. The future is female:

CHRIS HAYES: This is something you've been reporting on and seeing, witnessing firsthand as you've been out on the road. Not just the candidates, but the women volunteers, the people knocking on doors. It is astonishing how powerful that force is, particularly in Democratic politics.

REBECCA TRAISTER: I think you are looking at so many of these women who, as you said, had perhaps been somnambulant, maybe they were regular Democratic voters, a segment of them had been shocked into activism. Again and again, I've been going around the country meeting women who describe their every night, every weekend, every spare hour that's not spent doing their paid jobs, dedicated to working for campaigns or with organizations that are comprising this kind of infrastructure to deal with voter suppression, to deal -- to funnel funds, create new ways of fund-raising, new ways of supporting candidates. There are all kinds of new organizations from "Run for Something," "Sister District," "Spread the Vote". Women are just getting involved in all these different ways trying to address the inequities and broken parts of the system. And a lot of those people are very new to this kind of work.

HAYES: Yeah, the newness is what's interesting to me. What have you been hearing from people that went from being, essentially, maybe more passive participants to sort of committing a huge part of their lives to it?

TRAISTER: Well, a lot of the women who have been passive in the past are white suburban women who, perhaps because of their own proximity to certain kinds of power and privilege, hadn't been shocked into sort of an acknowledgment of the fact that the country's politics were broken. Were sort of shocked by bias and hate and misogyny and racism and xenophobia coming out of the Trump campaign in 2016, and then Hillary Clinton fans or voters and who just assumed she was going to win were shocked out of their apathy at the fact that she lost. And a lot of them have gotten a tremendous civic education in the past two years. They are learning about their local politics. They are engaged in their local politics. They are committed to local candidates. This is not just a banner presidential year politics, which is why their engagement in the midterms can be so crucial. They're coming up with new ideas about how to organize. They are talking to each other in their anger and shock. They have formed new networks and the beginnings of new coalitions. They are learning about some of the history of progressive activism. They are learning about, in some cases, their own racial and class privilege and the way that it has blinkered them in the past. These are conversations I have had with women around the country in the past few weeks who I don't think would have had these kinds of conversations three years ago, five years ago.

HAYES: You know, that point is really interesting because I've been watching interviews with some of the women who are sort of doing this volunteering, particularly in places like orange county or suburban Virginia where you have a volunteer base that is largely white, relatively affluent, upper-middle-class women, it's not just that they're invested. Their actual politics and worldview is changing through the sort of experience of doing the work.

TRAISTER: Absolutely. They are learning things every day. And in many cases, because we have a roster, a historic number of women candidates, women of color candidates, candidates of color, candidates with progressive left politics, a lot of them find themselves in this position of doing work on behalf of black women, women of color running for office. They are turning to leadership, to black women who have been organizing for many years and they are learning from those women. That is a dynamic, for example, in Georgia that's really key. A lot of the women who I went down and talked to around the keyed up and engaged in politics. But in that race they were working for a young white male candidate. Now they are going all-out for Lucy McBath, for Stacey Abrams.

HAYES: And I want to say that Lucy McBath race is the most interesting. We watched that race. That was the big marquee special election match-up, millions of dollars, Karen Hander [versus] Jon Ossoff, Ossoff falls short. She lost her son to gun violence. Running in that same district is neck and neck, and not the candidate that would have been drafted by the Democratic Party political class a year ago. And right now is right poised to maybe win that race.

TRAISTER: But this is a lesson and it should be a lesson for all of us. And I think it's something that so many of these -- this particular group of women that we're talking about, have been learning, which is that new kinds of candidates, candidates who are not traditional candidates, who the Democratic establishment wants to send forward. These kinds of candidates can engage and lead. The people who have been doing this work for decades before us, often women of color, often marginalized people engaged in the trenches long before 2016, people would turn to who are energetic and possible leadership going forward.

HAYES: I have my eyes on that race and many others. Rebecca Traister, thank you so much for being here.

TRAISTER: Thank you.

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