Inspiration, not Fear: The Way Progressives Win

Monday night, I spoke at a New York State Constitutional Convention (proposition 1 on next Tuesday's ballot) town hall held at the Amalgamated Transit Union office on Amboy St.  I knew going in that the thrust of the meeting was opposition to the convention, but I was disappointed that speaker after speaker focused so much on scaring people--literally, telling the audience to go and scare people into voting No.  I'm a firm believer that progressives win when we inspire people to vote with us, not try to scare them into it.

Below is a short video I made with my concluding remarks, a transcript of my entire speech, and audio of the whole thing.

"Hi, my name is Zach Emig, I’m one of the 48 or 49 Democrats running for Congress.  And I want to thank the clubs for having me here, because I’m one of the few candidates openly supporting this convention, and I think it’s good to have a dialogue within Democrats about why.

I’m running as a progressive, and to me the word progressive is a combination of two things: progress and aggressive.  Like, I’m running because I’m aggressive for progress, and I don’t think Albany has moved at the pace that New Yorker’s deserve.

Things that I think we can accomplish in the convention, that I think all of us agree with, would be early voting, reform to voter registration, term limits, end to gerrymandering, a women’s rights amendment.

And I know that the rejoinder to this is, “Yes, well why don’t we just do it the same way, the amendment process, through the Senate, the Assembly and everything.  And if we have a convention, we won’t be guaranteed to get those things.  Can you guarantee them, Zach?”

And I say, “Guarantee?  Well I can guarantee all of you one thing, and that’s that we don’t have those now, after 200 years of state government.”

So, I’m not standing here talking to you because I think I’m going to convince any of you.  I respect all of your views, uh, and I understand where they’re coming from.

But I would say, nine days from now, either the vote will be yes, and we’ll need to be aggressively moving into the delegate stage, or the vote will be no, and then we can wait 20 years for us to come back and talk about getting early voting and a women’s rights amendment and everything like that.

But, I guess, I hear the word fear spoken about a lot here, and about who the delegates will be next year, because we’ll be voting in 2018.  And to me, like, 2018 is perhaps one of the most exciting years for progressives in America.  But also, especially, here in New York.  And I would just point to Staten Island as an example, you know.

Last year, for Congress, it was difficult for the party to find a candidate to run against Donovan.  This year, there’s 8 of us.

Borelli ran unopposed last time. This year we have Dylan Schwartz fighting his heart out in the South Shore.

Like, I am psyched about 2018!  And if the vote turns out Yes for the convention, instead of coming from a place of fear, I would say, “Let’s inspire people!  Let’s inspire people to vote for Democrats!”

Because I think Democrats win when we’re the party of “There’s nothing to fear but fear itself.”

I think we win when we’re the party of “There’s nothing wrong with America that can’t be fixed with what’s right with America.”

And I think we win when we’re the party of “Yes we can!”

Thank you for your time, and get out and vote!"

3 minute audio here.