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In Wake of Devastating 2016 Election, State Innovation Exchange (SiX) Calls on Progressives to Focus on State-Based Strategy

November 2016

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, following the results of the 2016 election, State Innovation Exchange (SiX) Executive Director Nick Rathod released the following statement:

“The rise and ultimate success of Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy have shocked most of the country. For those of us who have spent our careers in state politics and advocacy, we know that in fact, this outcome has been in the making for nearly a generation. While the progressive movement has often focused on policymaking and electoral work at the federal level, conservatives have kept a laser-like focus on the states for decades – steadily investing in a complex infrastructure of think tanks, communication hubs, training institutes, and advocacy groups. This advantage has allowed them to build powerful local narratives around the issues of the day, speak to people where they are (instead of from Washington), and build a pipeline of elected leaders who understand how to govern as conservatives. What happened last night is the culmination of patient, methodical movement-building work that has given conservatives control of most of the governing institutions in our country – including, now, the presidency.

“It is time for progressives to think differently about how we strategically engage and govern in this country, and that shift should begin far from Washington – at the state and local level – closest to the people whose lives we seek to improve. Heading into 2017, we know Congress will continue to be mired in gridlock – with Republicans still lacking a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. For the foreseeable future, our nation’s state legislatures will provide one of the only consistent places where advancing progressive policy reforms is possible. And while conservatives enjoy historic levels of control, there is still hope for progressives at the state level. For the past two years, the State Innovation Exchange (SiX) has been working to build progressive power in state capitols across the country. With limited investment, we have seen progress in even the reddest states for policies and ideas like expanding equal pay and modernizing our voting systems. Looking beyond the outcome of the presidential race last night, there were clear signs of hope for progressives on state ballot initiatives throughout the country – with victories for working families around increasing the minimum wage in Arizona and Colorado, providing paid sick days and a minimum wage increase in Washington state, protecting collective bargaining in Virginia, and more.

“We can’t keep making the same mistakes and expect different results. There is hope for progressives – and the critical issues on which we work – even in this darkest hour. But it is not in Washington. It’s where it always has been: in states and municipalities across the nation, where elected officials are shaping laws that will impact our lives and our communities for years to come. That is where SiX has always been focused, and we will continue to work with dedicated leaders of all stripes to rebuild this country around a progressive vision that puts people first.”