A lot is riding on the Georgia 6th District special election for both political parties, but no matter the outcome, there is an opportunity for massive political change.
Say Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff doesn't win the Georgia 6th District special election, what could happen?
It would certainly be a disappointment for the Democratic Party, but not an insurmountable setback. If President Donald Trump winning the 2016 presidential election didn't finish off the Democrats, Ossoff's loss of a long-held Republican seat in the House certainly won't. Georgia's 6th District is not one of the 23 Republican-held areas that was won by Hillary Clinton last year, and Democrats will certainly still push for legislative seats no matter the outcome of the runoff.
However, if Ossoff loses, it could be yet another indicator to Democratic leaders that they need to reach even further across the aisle and far back into their own constituency if they are going to gain control of Congress and the nation. The party is a diverse one, but it's not always welcoming to new ideas, and the Democratic establishment has been hostile to revolutionary voices in the past.
Ossoff walks very much down the liberal middle, and this has inspired support, but keep in mind that Bernie Sanders marched to beat of the progressive far-left, and he achieved much more.
Say Ossoff wins the special election on Tuesday, what could happen?
It could put the fear of God in Republicans and wind in the sails of the stagnant Democratic elite. If Ossoff wins against Republican rival Karen Handel he could, to quote Tim Fernholz of Quartz, "put the brakes on the entire Republican legislative agenda promoted by US President Donald Trump." He could force the GOP to re-evaluate their backing of Trump policies that would have widespread consequences on their constituents.
To Democrats, a win for Ossoff means another crucial seat in the House, and that focusing their massive resources into historically red districts is not the waste it's unfortunately sometimes thought to be. To Republicans, it would signal that the shadow Trump casts over the conservative agenda could be the party's undoing. As political science professor at Georgia State University Jeffrey Lazarus points out, it could cost them "that niche of white professionals who consider themselves Republicans but are repulsed by this particular GOP-backed president and enough in the political middle to consider voting Democrat or a different party."
Ossoff's youth is another factor that others have labeled either a flaw or an inspiration. Doug Bock Clark of Mother Jones called the young congressional hopeful "the first real battle between millenials and Trump," and Ossoff's age certainly places him at the forefront of a generation who will be impacted the most by the policies of this administration.
If he wins, Ossoff could encourage other young Americans to seek office. Even if Ossoff loses, he's already gotten far enough to push some of his generation to consider their own role in the future of their country. He has become the easy rebuttal to the stereotype of millennial apathy.
The entire nation is watching the Georgia 6th District special election with bated breath, and each side of Washington favors one outcome over the other, but there is the strong potential for much-needed change no matter the results.
Win or lose, political upstart Ossoff could be the catalyst for an important turning point in American politics. It's not so much about who Ossof is as an individual or a politician, at least not yet, but about what he symbolizes. His youth, his earlier near-win, and the political context he has emerged from is a perfect recipe for change.
If the left acts on this effectively, it could mark the beginning of something big.