Identity is something that you are constantly earning. It is not just who you are. It is a process that you must be active in. It’s not just parroting your parents or the thoughts of your learned teachers. It is now more than ever about understanding yourself so you can become yourself. ~Joss Whedon
I have a serious question: Who are you?
When you look at yourself, when you think of yourself, when you identify yourself … who are you?
I ask because for the longest time, I was a Republican.
I was – for a very long time – a self-professed, self-identifying member of the GOP.
I remember being a little smug about it. That there I was, a single female lawyer working at a large law firm in Chicago (which was chock full of those crazy liberals, I would say with an eye roll and a haughty laugh) and I was swimming against the current with my political preference.
It was liberating to be different from everyone else. To be … unexpected.
But my professed political party preference was just semantics, really. I had little time for sleep, let alone for being politically involved. I barely watched the news, and certainly didn’t spend time poring over party platforms or vetting candidates.
But I knew I was a Republican, because Democrats were just … Democrats. Nobody in my family was a Democrat (except maybe that one cousin in Colorado, but who knows?) so I certainly wasn’t one of those.
Democrats were just dreamers, and we Republicans lived in the real world doing the real work.
So I just put my head down and worked my 80 hours a week, happy that the GOP was going to give me tax cuts.
Then – pretty much out of the blue – I was offered a great job with reasonable hours, a super smart group of people to work with, and the kind of independence that large law firm lawyers crave. It was at the State Treasurer’s office – and I’d be one of just a few lawyers for the whole office.
I’d help handle … everything. From courtroom strategy to press releases to contract negotiations.
It sounded amazing.
The only catch?
The State Treasurer … was a Democrat.
You’d think that would be a deal-killer – both for me and for the office. But to my surprise, they didn’t even ask me what my political leanings were. In fact, they made a big point of saying that attorneys from both Republican and Democratic administrations still worked there. They actually forbade me from telling them on what side of the aisle I was most comfortable.
And that’s how I came to be surrounded by an impressive group of incredibly smart people with big ideas, and big solutions to big problems.
The ideas they had were bold, but made complete sense to me. And – as I was shocked to learn – their ideas meshed with my ideology completely.
On every single issue, I agreed with the most progressive people in the office.
I was floored.
And that’s when I realized it.
I was a Democrat.
And maybe I had never actually been a Republican.
Or, at least, I hadn’t been a Republican in a really, really, really long time.
But that label? That elephant? It stuck. For years. Decades, even.
It was part of who I thought I was. It was a big part of how I identified myself, like my job and my hometown. The GOP was my home team, so learning that I was actually rooting for the other side was … jarring. But enlightening.
Our political affiliation is a cultural symbol, a team allegiance, and an abbreviation for our identity. For a lot of folks, voting for the Republican isn’t about voting for the issue or policy position.
It’s voting for the Republican just because you’ve always been a Republican and nobody you know would ever vote otherwise.
It’s voting for the Republican because nobody “like you” would ever vote for a Democrat.
But until relatively recently, the Republicans weren’t taking policy positions that so obviously – and so immediately – harmed their own constituents.
Now they are.
And even if it doesn’t seem like it in your neck of the woods (yet), their voters have started to notice.
Just before the 2018 election, my own mother – a woman who has been a conservative Republican for my whole life (and I think her own) – said “Well, you know me. I’ve always been an independent.”
As of November 2018, she’s not a straight ticket voter. At least, not anymore.
I remember talking to my mom during the ACA repeal debate. I told her that if the GOP had their way, we’d not have coverage for pre-existing conditions anymore.
She had a hard time believing me.
“They’d never do that,” she said. Because she believed – as I’m sure many other lifelong Republicans did – that the people she had trusted with her vote and her life for so long would never do something to hurt so many people.
Including her daughter and her grandson.
It’s far easier to believe that the Democrats are somehow spinning reality. Or that the “gotcha media” is twisting facts. (Cue the eye roll.)
I don’t know if seeing the truth about Republican opposition to the ACA made the difference in her newfound “independent voter” status. Maybe yes, maybe no.
But I do know that according to recent Gallup data there are more independent voters (44% in September 2018) than either Democrats (27%) or Republicans (26%). The last time the percentage of independent voters was less than 40% was February 2017 – right after Trump’s inauguration.
Listen, folks. There are probably people in your world that you’ve always considered rock-ribbed Republicans. You think there’s no way they’ll leave the party. You can’t imagine they’ll split their ticket and vote for a Democrat – for any office.
I’m telling you that you just might be wrong.
It takes a long time to accept a change in your identity.
Part of cracking this red-state code is helping people see that people like them are Democrats.
Because we are.
Let’s get to work.
Tuesday: Pumped Up Kicks…
Toms has always been at the forefront of corporate giving and responsibility, but they’re taking things to a whole new level. After the founder received a call from his frantic wife, who was afraid to send their four-year-old to school because of all of the gun violence facing our country, he decided to take action. And he’s helping us take action too.
Go to https://www.toms.com/egv and fill out your information (it takes less than 20 seconds) and Toms will send a postcard to your Congresscritter, asking them to support universal background checks. This is a super simple action that takes very little time – but the more of us that do it, the more impact we’ll have. So go fill out your postcard!
Wednesday: ACA Repeal-By-Edict
So. A whole passel of Red-State Attorneys General took it upon themselves to bring a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the ACA in a Texas District court. They made a whole bunch of silly arguments that don’t really make sense, and then asked for the broadest possible relief: repeal of the ACA.
Sometimes you have to watch what you wish for.
They got exactly what they wanted from a Texas District Court judge who threw out the entire ACA in a bonkers opinion that pretty much everyone thinks is malarkey.
Short term, nothing changes and we all continue on like normal while the litigation continues.
BUT… that means the ACA’s legality will be decided by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Texas, where the district court sits), and then most likely by the U.S. Supreme Court.
But guess what! Those Attorneys General have constituents. And those folks include people like you and me who can lobby our AGs to get us out of the lawsuit. Here are the plaintiff states: TX, WI, AL, AR, AZ, FL, GA, IN, KS, LA, MO, NE, ND, SC, SD, TN, UT, WV. The Governors of Maine and Mississippi are also listed plaintiffs.
Special note for the folks in Wisconsin… your state legislature has passed legislation to make it more difficult for your AG to remove your state from the lawsuit. I’ll be watching to see what happens with court challenges to those legislative limitations on your AG’s power, but if nothing else their actions prove the effectiveness of asking people like you and me to lobby for the very relief your state legislature tried to take away. So let’s get to it!
If you live in Missouri, your AG until January 3 is none other than Josh Hawley. He’s one of the AGs who came up with this hair-brained idea, and it’s up to us to tell him that we don’t appreciate what he did. After January 3, Eric Schmidt will be the AG. And we’ll be telling him the same thing.
For Missouri people, the General Information number for Hawley’s office is 573-751-3321. Ask them to send you to the constituent services office. I did, and was able to leave a message. I’d love them to get a few hundred more today. So let’s make that happen!
Here’s a draft script for you to use:
Hi, my name is ___ and I’m a constituent from [city]. I’m calling because of the Texas v. US case, which the Attorney General made us a plaintiff to. What the AG has asked for as relief in this case is terrible for the citizens of this state. It’s thrown our whole country into a state of disarray, and has made my family’s future less certain. I’m asking that AG ____ remove us from this lawsuit.
Thursday: The Green New Deal
You might have already heard about the “Green New Deal” – a proposal/framework introduced by Congresswoman-elect Ocasio-Cortez. (You can read it here: https://ocasio2018.com/gnd). It’s bold. It’s broad. It’s forward-thinking.
It grapples with our current environmental calamity by giving us a frame of reference – the New Deal – that invokes images of collective hard work to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Brilliant!
It’s not a piece of legislation, per se – it’s a framework. It’s an idea, a concept, an initial plan, a target. But it’s worth reaching out to your Congresscritter to let them know that you like what you’re seeing. That you believe it’s worth supporting in some way, shape, or form. Let them know you’re watching…
Friday: Chat With Angry Uncle Bot
The holidays are here again, and that means many of us will be interacting with family members that don’t share our political views. Does that make you nervous? Before deciding for a second helping of spiked eggnog, try practicing conversation techniques that will improve rather than derail your holiday. Head over to the New York Times to give it a try. I did, and it was enlightening!! https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/11/18/opinion/thanksgiving-family-argue-chat-bot.html
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 www.mhornish.com 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
https://www.patreon.com/smalldeedsdone or via paypal at https://www.paypal.me/smalldeeds
My deepest gratitude in advance.
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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.