We have not lived up to the ideals of our democracy. Ever. But there is a beacon that leads us in the direction of justice. Principles that inform our path through history and by which we find our bearings when we get off course.
America is built on the idea of inclusion in a just society. We thrive as new people and cultures add their colors, design, warp and weft, to our tapestry. The Americans with Disabilities act aided citizens with disabilities to more fully participate in families, in the workplace, and in the political arena. The expansion of women’s rights and LGBT rights have all grown our understanding of human worth and dignity
Now our elected officials want to build walls, to isolate us – not only from the world but also from one another. The rights of the most vulnerable are being eroded one law, one amendment, on step at a time. Those who gained protections are losing them. When I was little I was taught that the United States was a melting pot. Later I loved an essay by Norah Roberts who imagined us as a tossed salad. Republicans play into our fears and construct the myth of ‘the other’. They persuade us to distrust immigrants, to disrespect a woman’s right to make reproductive decisions, to openly and sometimes viciously discriminate against the LGBT community, and encourage racism as usual and acceptable, disregarding the sanctity of black lives and brown lives and native American lives. They fan the flames of distrust and fear. So much so that I cringe when I hear a crowd chanting “USA! USA!” What I hear is: “Us not them! Us not them!”
It’s time to change the conversation. We don’t need to be in dialogue with those who would destroy our values and vision of a nation whose arc is ‘bent toward justice’.
It’s time to stop compromising about the lives and deaths of our fellow citizens.
It’s time to get up, gird up, and put on our big girl panties.
We cannot afford to wait and see how things ‘play out’.
We are the majority and we need to assert our power. Even if it is for the first time.
Vote now. Get involved now. Be the change now.
This is not the time to make nice. It’s time to make policy.
As angry as I am/have been/probably will be again I can’t leave my last blog hanging out there for a week without making a point of the good stuff. There is much to encourage us about the race for the 6th in Georgia. I see things every day since that give me hope to power on.
Women are on fire! It was amazing to work with and see so many energetic, committed women putting themselves out there every day and every evening for months. We have realized that politics cannot be a spectator sport. Voting is great, putting up a sign is important, giving matters – but it is not enough. And we worked our ‘osses’ off!
We got woke. We became aware of voting issues and committed to work on the issues of racist voter suppression, gerrymandering, and election hacking. We got informed about the efficacy of paper ballots, ballot trails, and the need for election overhaul. Now we’re going to do something about it. We: long time activists like myself, and those who now join us, worked together, made connections, and saw it through.
We took Michelle Obama’s words to heart: when they go low, we go high. We encouraged one another every day in face-to-face confrontation with the opposition ‘going very low’ to ‘go high’. We defined and continue to define ourselves by what we value .
To paraphrase Hamilton: We are not a Moment, We are a Movement.
I may feel too angry right now to write a blog but there is much to say. I am not even sure what to keep in and what to leave out. It all started on Tuesday night when, after a hard fought race, Jon Ossoff lost to Karen Handel in the Georgia 6th District race.
I have lots of thoughts about it- the whys and hows of it – and I am sure the race will be dissected ad infinitum by the press and the DNC, both publically and privately. However, we who ran the race – and it was we, not just Jon – may think differently about it and have not been consulted at all.
That’s the problem with the DNC today. As a national party they have lost touch with the local electorate. They have been hands-off in most of the South in local elections for years. Maybe not on national elections but certainly on local ones.
In this election they ran ads that were not approved by the campaign and that had a negative impact. They did not coordinate phone banking so that people around the nation were calling (that’s fine) but without an inkling of the intensive effort by volunteers here in Atlanta. A little coordination would have been helpful. As it was, the DNC’s efforts were clumsy. They participated in making this election a national mandate in a race that is truly local.
If the DNC deigns to involve itself I suggest they follow the lead of the locals. It is not their job to take over nor, I might add, are they very good at it. The arrogance of the national party works against local Democratic interests.
Finally, the question needs to be asked: what motivated 12,000 volunteers (the majority women) to put in countless hours over the past several months? Do you or do you not want to tap into our energy and fire? If so, are you willing to listen to us or would you rather pour over your computer generated data.
We are not an algorithm.
After the Women’s March I came back to Georgia and became a part of the Huddle network. A Huddle is a group of people who participated in the march – either in D.C. or locally – and who want to continue to stand, act, move, make a difference. We are the resistance.
Our most recent effort is to elect Jon Ossoff to the 6th District. Hundreds and hundreds of women have shown up and worked their “osses” off. We have canvassed, phone banked, written personal letters and postcards to voters, and rallied on street corners trying to get out the vote. We showed up at Board of Election meetings and got early voting times and locations expanded. We showed up in courtrooms and for hearings before the Georgia Legislature.
We showed up.
The race is very close. I teeter between the real hope that Jon will be elected as a harbinger of change from our current ‘leadership’ and political direction. And in the deepest night I am afraid he will be defeated and the direction of our nation will continue to careen in the direction it is headed.
But even in those moments I realize that what cannot be stopped is a million women who refuse to give in or give up. A million women who continue to engage the system with intention and energy. Making change doesn’t depend on this one election. It depends on every action of each one of us in all times and all places. No matter what happens tomorrow we have made our connections, found our strength, and will resist with every breath we take.