You Don’t Have to Settle For Survival: Break Free

You never fail until you stop trying. ~Albert Einstein

During a day trip to a small village in Asia, a tourist saw something (or somethings) strange.


Right there, in the middle of the village.

These huge, hulking creatures with imposing strength and size were just … standing there.

As he marveled at the sight, he saw that each elephant had a thin rope around one of its massive feet. Each of those thin ropes led to a tiny stake that had been tapped into the ground. Compared to the size of the elephant, the stakes looked like toothpicks.

The tourist walked over to the elephant trainer.

“Why do they have those little ropes around their feet?” the man asked.

“So they don’t run away, of course,” said the trainer.

The man looked back quizzically. “But can’t they just … I don’t know. Break the rope? Or pull it out of the ground?” He looked back toward the elephants.

“Those are pretty small stakes, don’t you think?” he asked.

“Oh sure,” said the trainer. “They could break away if they tried. But we put a rope like that around their foot when they’re calves. When they’re that small they can’t break it or pull the stakes out of the ground. Pretty soon they learn that they can’t get away. And eventually, they just stop trying. But yeah – if they tried, they’d break it – no problem.”

The trainer paused and looked up at the big, hulking creatures.

“They just never do.”

Friends, people in power don’t want you to fully embrace your ability.

They’d like you to forget that you’re not really new at this anymore.

They’d prefer that you not realize that with more than two years of experience building coalitions and advocating for/against policy you’ve grown into quite a powerhouse. Even if – just like the elephants – you don’t see your own growth because it’s been so gradual.

They want you to be blind to your power.

Because they’d really rather you just … get tired.

Get tired of trying. Get tired of pushing.

Get tired of the tough work so you’ll stop doing it, already.

They want us to give up – to be content to stand in the middle of the village and live in the space between the little rope and the little stake. To live within a neat little circle of land.

After all, it’s enough for us to walk.

A little.

It’s enough for us to live.

A little.

But we’re not little anymore.

And we don’t have to settle for survival.

Break the rope.

Let’s get to work.


Tuesday: Open Enrollment

Boy, I am beating this drum, aren’t I? If you haven’t reminded friends and family to enroll, do so today!!

President Obama has a great video message that you can share to help get the word out. You can find it here:

Wednesday: Hat tip to Rogan’s List! Protect the Environment and Demand Your MOC’s Help Your District Go Green

If you’ve not yet bookmarked it already, Rogan’s List ( has incredibly well-researched daily action items. (Amazing!) This week, Rogan details the plight of the sage grouse (as noted in a NYT article, quoted below) and how the Trump administration is stripping land and protections from this species to fuel its insatiable appetite for oil and gas … that the American people want to move away from. From her List:

“’The Trump administration on Thursday detailed its plan to open nine million acres to drilling and mining by stripping away protections for the sage grouse, an imperiled ground-nesting bird that oil companies have long considered an obstacle to some of the richest deposits in the American West.  In one stroke, the action would open more land to drilling than any other step the administration has taken, environmental policy experts said. It drew immediate criticism from environmentalists while energy-industry representatives praised the move, saying that the earlier policy represented an overreach of federal authority. With this single action, the administration is saying: This landscape doesn’t matter. This species doesn’t matter. Oil and gas matter.’   We don’t need this oil, just like we don’t need tons of coal anymore. Green Energy is our future for good climate and jobs. Tell trump to stop giving his oil friends our natural resources and destroying our native species.  Let’s tell our MoCs, too.”

Indeed! This week, please call your MOCs and let them know that you not only disagree with this policy, but that you’re not keen on the U.S. being the laughingstock of the world because of Trump’s love affair with dirty energy sources. Tell them that THEY NEED TO CREATE A PLAN. We need a plan, gosh darnit. Enough already.

Script: Hi! My name is ___ and I’m a constituent at ___. I’m calling because I’ve heard of the Trump administration plan to remove protections for the sage grouse and open up lands for oil and gas drilling. Enough already! If the climate reports from the last few weeks have told us anything, it’s that it’s high time we move away from oil and gas and toward green energy. Why isn’t the administration doing more to boost green energy? What plan does the congress(wo)man have to bring green jobs to our district? What plan does the congress(wo)man have to oppose the administration’s pro-fossil fuel stance? What is he/she doing to help keep our district air and water clean?

Thursday: Don’t Become a Shrinking Violet!

Democrats have a terrible habit of what I’ve started to call a “build it up, burn it down” strategy of campaigning. We build up an infrastructure over the six months leading up to an election, then we burn it down in early November, and then we let it sit for two years.

That’s completely inefficient. And it reinforces this misconception that we only come around when we want people to vote for us.

Right now, as you’re trying to find things to focus on, think about taking on ideas or starting projects that will keep the Democratic brand in front of the people in your district. Whether it’s tabling at a bake sale, or having a community clean up day, or hosting bingo – we need to keep engaging with the communities that we live in.

So sit down with a cup of coffee and a piece of paper and really give some thought to this – I think you’ll be surprised with the kinds of things you think of that will help your community and keep spreading a positive brand message about Democrats.

Friday: Get a Leg Up in Your State

Here in Missouri, quite a few bills have been “pre-filed,” which means we get a good sense for what crazy stuff they are going to push in the upcoming session. We get a nice preview of their horrifying intentions, which means we have a heads’ start on messaging and organizing. Take advantage!

You can look at the Missouri pre-filed bills here. If you already know that a Democratic state legislator has taken the lead on an issue, shoot them and e-mail and let them know that you’re available to help.

Even if you’re not in Missouri, call your local Democratic state legislators (or, if you state legislators are members of the GOP call your favorites) and find out what priorities they have for the session. Let them know that you’re interested in helping. I promise they’ll find something for you to do!

P.S.: Because some of you have asked, yes! I am a copywriter for nonprofits and political causes/candidates. I take a limited number of clients, and with the political cycle ending, I’ll have some openings soon. Visit to learn more.

P.P.S.: If you want to help support this work (and help me “keep the lights on,” so to speak), you can do so via Patreon at or via paypal at
My deepest gratitude in advance.

Why don’t you make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two? I bet they need it.

If you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here. Welcome, friend!

Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every e-mail. (Really! I really do!) We’re in this together.

Have a thought? A small deed to suggest? Share it here!

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