Good Things Can Still Happen
Big wins in Wisconsin and Chicago show the possibilities—and the limits—of electoral politics.
Last night, Brandon Johnson, “a progressive organizer backed by teachers union,” in the totally neutral words of the Associated Press, beat “moderate” candidate Paul Vallas to become the next mayor of Chicago. About a hundred miles north, Wisconsin voters successfully, brutally rejected former conservative state Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly in favor of liberal Judge Janet Protasiewicz, turning out in record numbers to fundamentally shift the state judiciary’s balance of power toward liberals and setting up a rollback of the state’s abortion ban, passed with the blessing of the court in June 2022, as well as tackling its insanely gerrymandered electoral maps.
It is easy, these days, to be completely disenchanted with the nature of electoral politics in America. In many parts of the country, even gains like a mayoral race or a Supreme Court flip are almost entirely out of reach. But Johnson’s victory in Chicago and Wisconsin’s triumph didn’t happen in a vacuum, and there are plenty of positives to take away from some of the minutiae of these races. There are also upsides to take away from just how mad the shittiest people are about both races.
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