It’s a big mistake to think the long intervals between presidential elections are not every bit as consequential as the one day when we officially reject or retain an incumbent or elect a new president.

This should be clear if we understand politics to be how people living in groups make decisions so that they can live together as a community, as a state, as a nation.

In fact, if we consider January 2021 alone, it looks like there are no off months in politics, let alone off years.

The January 6th insurrection in our nation’s capital, incited by a sitting president, supported by a loose but extensive network that included police officers, military veterans, public officials, white supremacists — and which is being defended, excused or downplayed by 90% of a major party’s political leadership — was a transformational political event that will affect our nation for at least the next two generations. If ordinary citizens do not find effective ways to respond to this assault on our system, it will sooner or later become the norm. [Just yesterday, the military in Myanmar took over in a coup, claiming the recent election, in which 83% of the popular vote went against them, was fraudulent. Where might they have found a role model?

Two days earlier and closer to home, Gov. Mike DeWine signed “Stand Your Ground” legislation into Ohio law, caving into the state’s right wing legislature, and potentially turning any encounter outside your house into a lethal action.

Last week Ohio’s junior Senator, Rob Portman, made himself a lame duck, announcing that he will not run for a third term next year. Portman has been mostly MIA these past four years, fiddling with feeble calls for civility as his party and its unstable leader were setting ablaze many of the laws, institutions, traditions and protocols that make civility possible in a diverse nation of 330 million people.

(Highlighting the profiles in cravenness of Ohio’s top two Republicans reminds us to salute the stand-up vote of area GOP congressman Anthony Gonzalez, one of the fewer than five percent of his party’s House colleagues who voted to impeach Donald Trump for his incitement of insurrection.)

Getting even more local, former Cleveland city council president and state rep Marty Sweeney secured his return to public office by winning a close vote of the Democratic executive committee members  to fill the vacancy on Cuyahoga County council occasioned by Dan Brady’s retirement.

By the way, even as the process by which Sweeney returns to office was publicly savaged, many political observers including several Sweeney detractors, had to acknowledge his mastery of vote-whipping, while his opponent, ward leader and Young Dems president Brandon Heil, was perhaps too busy measuring curtains for an office he had yet to secure.

Also in January, Pernel Jones and Cheryl Stephens were elected by their colleagues president and vice president of county council. It’s fair to say few if any predicted council’s top two positions would both be held by African Americans. Perhaps even more remarkable than this stunner is how few eyebrows appear to have been raised by the feat.

Mano of the folk who opposed the reorganization of county government back in 2009 would have lost their fortunes on a bet that the black people they professed to represent might attain the level of success under the new system exemplified by Jones and Stephens.

This perhaps segues into the reentry into local politics of former state senator Nina Turner.

Turner, you may recall, was vilified as a sellout back in 2009 for being just about the only black elected official who supported the reorganization of county government.

Now, by virtue of her policy chops, celebrity, and fundraising prowess, she is the frontrunner to win the Democratic primary in the expected soon to be announced special election to succeed Marcia Fudge.

And that’s not even half of the area’s January politics.

Shirley Smith, Turner’s former state senate colleague, also declared her entry into the race last month, joining county councilwoman Shontel Brown and former Cleveland councilman Jeff Johnson.

Meanwhile, civic activist Justin Bibb heads a list of candidates who declared their candidacies for local offices. Bibb, 33, has an  impressive  set of career credentials to accompany a sterling academic resume and a policy nerdiness. He’s put together a tight political organization and raised over $200,000, more than enough to establish himself as a serious, credible candidate for Cleveland mayor.

Elsewhere, attorney and ward leader Rebecca Maurer announced her plans to run for council from her base in Slavic Village. In Cleveland Heights, Kahlil Seren tossed his hat into the ring to be Cleveland Heights’ first elected mayor since that suburb abolished its city manager structure.

It’s contests like these that trickle upward to build a base that can support political and social change or entrench the status quo. The choice is up to us.

We have written several pieces about Ohio’s 11th Congressional District, which for fifty years has been centered in Cleveland’s black community. Its political, social, and cultural importance is undeniable. But knowledgeable people tell us that turnout for the upcoming special election is likely to be around 25,000 voters. In a crowded field, the primary winner and likely next successor to Marcia Fudge could garner fewer than 7,500 votes.

If ever there was opportunity to make your voice heard, this would seem to be the time. The new technologies and platforms prospering under social media in the COVID era have made it easier than ever to educate yourself on the issues and the candidates. Just last week I sat in on a “meet and greet coffee klatch” from the comfort of my desk  and listened to a candidate in Cleveland’s Larchmere neighborhood engage with three dozen or so voters from all around town.

Now is the time to engage your family, neighbors, and friends and networks; and turn out the vote. Stacey Abrams lives in Georgia. She isn’t coming to Cleveland to do what we should do for ourselves.

Can I get an amen?

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This post first appeared at The Real Deal Press. Click here to see the original post.