Currently, there are 49 currently elected members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). That is the largest number in the group’s history, even with senior Rep. John Conyers, Jr. stepping down because of accusations from the #MeToo movement. Half of them are up for re-election in 2018.

In the organizational intensity focused on the upcoming midterm elections in November (and even before, in the various primaries), it is an important point to remember that before we expend most or all of our collective energies on seeking to elect new non-Trump representatives to Congress, that we first must have an operational strategy to keep those 49 already elected (incumbents) in office, including a proper replacement for Rep. Conyers in November’s special election in Detroit. This is particularly the case with California’s own Rep. Maxine Waters.

President Trump has told his small body of followers in the state to target Rep. Waters ( one of our very best in office) for a primary defeat in the June 5 election. Clearly, that won’t happen, but we cannot be blaise about that improbability and not show up on primary election day in numbers that count. We cannot ever take anything for granted in USA politics. Congresswoman Waters must be re-elected!

In the state itself, there are currently 11 elected as state government officials (nine assemblymen, two state senators), along with three African American members of the L.A. City Council, and one member of the LAUSD. Some complain that’s not hardly enough representation. Whether it is or isn’t, not maintaining it at least at that level (moving backwards) would not benefit the Black community at all. We may need more, but we first must maintain what we have.

That means we must do some serious political activism and organization for at least the next six months. Complaining without working to change the situation gets no respect; criticizing others for our lack of progress or declining status is useless. Other ethnic groups in California are moving forward. Are we?

There is a solid chance that the next governor of the state will be either an Asian American, a Latino/a American or a regular Caucasian American. Where is the Black candidate in the mix? Sure, we’ve had a Black Lieutenant Governor, several Speakers of the State Assembly, and numerous other state offices. We have, however, never had a State Senate Pro Tempore, nor have we had a Black state governor. Comparatively speaking, we seem to be falling behind.

Political decision-making for group interests is crucial for group success in this state and in this country. We cannot always depend on others to speak for us, nor vote in our favor. In order to be heard consistently and push for changes we need, we must send those who recognize and respect our experiences into positions of influence and significance. We otherwise consign ourselves to outsider complainant status.

In politics, those who always only complain are neither respected nor guaranteed help or support.

We must get out and do some things politically to help ourselves, and we must do that now! “There is no progress without struggle.”

Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.