What Organizers Need From Lawyers, Part 2: Help Build Deep Democracy

Movements know that it is not enough to just engage in the defensive work outlined in Part 1 of this dispatch; we have to deliver practical material wins, aggregate our victories, and strive for governing power. In this dispatch, we share more findings from two years of conversations with organizers, focusing this time on how lawyers can help organizers build the power we need to construct a multiracial, pluralistic democracy as part of a larger “block and build” strategy. There is certainly plenty of building work to be done at the federal level, but we zero in on the importance of the state and local levels because those terrains serve as laboratories and accelerators for authoritarian experiments.

Organizers have previously advised on what needs to be done to build power: work with the center, build from a position of strength, prepare for blowback after achieving wins, foster broad alignment across a broader ideological spectrum and persist despite feelings of overwhelm and despair. Lawyers have a crucial role to play in this long-term power-building work as well as the fight against authoritarianism. We hope this dispatch will serve as a clarion call for lawyers committed to thwarting an authoritarian advance to invest more in state- and local- level organizing fights.

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