“Hey, we won! You won! We all won, thanks to you!” Congresswoman Karen Bass exclaimed at the Town Hall at the Imam Community Center on Motor Avenue in Los Angeles. The place was filled to capacity on Sunday November 18 at noon. The crowd was even more diverse than the winning slate of California Democrats that had swept to victory, with the last house race being called for Gil Cisneros just the night before in the 39th District.
Bass was greeted like a rock star, with a standing ovation and minutes of cheering and applause from the hundreds of people who turned out.
Bass, who has served in Congress since 2011, had addressed the same hall after the presidential election of 2016 with one solid message: organize. Her gathering on Sunday was proof that the strategy worked.
The creation of Sea Change in 2017, a non-profit dedicated to spreading Democratic values and getting out the vote made the difference. It brought volunteers on board quickly to canvass the districts in California that were having congressional elections in 2018, with the goal of electing new faces. The success in California is historic.
“I knew that the only way we could turn this thing around was to organize, and we did it.” The crowd applauded with visible enthusiasm. “They really thought we couldn’t get the House back until 2021. And we are going to have it back in January of 2019.”
Bass offered the list of Democratic victories throughout California and the nation, focusing in on ‘flipping’ Orange County. “When I was a kid, growing up in Los Angeles, we didn’t go to visit San Diego, because we knew we did not want to go through Orange County.” The once notoriously racist part of Southern California was a travel risk not worth chancing. “We called it ‘going behind the ‘Orange Curtain’ and it meant that we did not go to Disneyland. We did not go the Knott’s Berry Farm; Knott’s Berry Farm had a bookstore that carried literature from the [white supremacist] John Birch Society. So we knew, that was not where we would feel welcome.”
With the election complete, it was time to talk about legislation. The focus on what her priorities for the upcoming session of Congress drew in her two most consistent legislative goals; improve things for women and children.
“We are going to remain focused on justice reform, and the family separations at the border are at the top of my list. I see this as state-sanctioned child abuse, and it cannot be tolerated in any way.”
Bass also cited upcoming outreach efforts to solicit more input from constituents in regard to flight noise. Her work with the Federal Aviation Administration in connection with Los Angeles International Airport’s Metroplex Project has been an important liaison for Culver City’s Quiet Skies efforts.
Questions from the crowd touched on everything from justice reform, help for the homeless, educational policy and climate change. Bass and her staff took notes, offered answers, and listened.
Running slightly over it’s closing time of 2 pm, the event was a punctuation point at the end of a long stretch of intense community involvement. If that turns out to be a comma or a period will define impact of the next election.