You're Never Alone

People think being alone makes you lonely, but I don’t think that’s true. Being surrounded by the wrong people is the loneliest thing in the world. ~Kim Culbertson

A few weeks ago, I attended a state party committee meeting.

They’re always fun affairs, frankly, because it’s a chance to see folks I haven’t seen in a while. It’s a quarterly reunion of sorts, and I’ve come to look forward to them.

In my conversations with people at these party meetings, I’ve learned so much about the state in which I live and the people that call it home. I’ve heard stories about small towns. Others about big cities. About candidates and supporters and party leaders. I’ve heard complaints (many of those, actually), lots of ideas and plenty of accolades.

But as I got ready for this most recent reunion, I got an email from a woman who lives in rural Missouri.

Let me tell you something about Democrats who live in rural Missouri – or any other rural area, for that matter.

They’re dedicated. Tough. Unflappable. Because it’s hard having beliefs that are so different from everyone else around you. It takes some grit to stand your ground.

And it can be a little lonely.

When she goes to the store for horse feed, she hears Trumpian comments. Guffaws about Democrats. Bald-faced lies. Fox News talking points. She can’t talk to her friends and neighbors – people she has known for years – about anything remotely related to politics. She’s isolated, out in the middle of nowhere with her land and her horses and her self-respect.

She’s not actually alone, of course. (She’s got us, and an internet connection, and that makes things a little easier.)

But it sure as hell feels that way.

And I got an email from her that day, and thought about all of the people like her who are peppered throughout our state. Who might feel … unseen. Who are among the crowd, but not of the crowd.

It got me wondering. How could I make her feel … less alone? How could I help her feel connected to people all across the state who feel what she feels, and think what she thinks?

And so I had this idea. It was borne from a suggestion someone had that an organization I work with (called It Starts Today) start a photo essay featuring the “Democrats of Missouri” – a flavor of Humans of New York. The idea was – is – to photograph Democrats from one side of the state to the other – to show people like her you’re not alone. You’re one of millions of people across the state, from all different backgrounds and beliefs, who count themselves among the Democrats.

And, I thought, what better place to find a bunch of Democrats than a state party committee meeting?

And so I took my camera, and a scratch pad of paper, and set off in a crowd of chatty Democrats at the state party meeting to learn people’s stories and find out why on earth they are Democrats.

And oh, my. You guys, I’m so glad I did.

Some of their stories brought me to the brink of tears.

The woman who lost her Medicaid coverage when her son was a baby because of the governor’s draconian cuts. The man who calls St. Louis a northern city that faces south … who as a kid couldn’t wait to get old enough to give back to the party of voting rights, housing rights, and civil rights. The man who lost his healthcare because he got a $1/hour raise. The woman who called her father an FDR Democrat, and lives her life according to her faith – which calls her to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and heal the sick. The female duo who hoisted themselves into politics after the 2016 election and are now local celebrities for their amazing signature gathering abilities.

We spend so much time talking about our candidates’ stories.

We need to be talking more about our own.

Because there’s so much depth there, folks. There is so much texture and meaning to the stories that I heard that day. Honestly, I can’t wait to hear more of them.

Because we all need to feel seen. We all need to be heard. We all need to know that we matter. That we’re a vote, of course. But we’re more than that.

You‘re more than that.

You’re a voice. You’re an inspiration to the people around you. You have the potential to do so many amazing things, no matter where you live, or who you’re surrounded by.

You’re connected by heartstrings to people all over the country who want to lift all of us up. And by god, working together that’s what we’ll do.

Don’t keep your story to yourself, friend. I, for one, want to hear it.

Let’s get to work.


Actions for the Week of February 11, 2020

Tuesday:  Hey, Senators: Let’s LOWER DRUG PRICES!

Did you know that the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Act (H.R. 3), a bipartisan piece of legislation meant to dramatically lower the cost of prescription drugs, has been passed through the House and is awaiting action in the Senate? (Learn more about H.R. 3 here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/3?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22elijah+cummings+lower+drug+costs%22%5D%7D&s=1&r=1)

Chances are good that your republican-leaning family/neighbors don’t know that either. I know my mom didn’t.

So two things you should do here. First, talk about it. We have legislation that will lower drug prices that’s dying a slow death because of Mitch McConnell. There’s so much going on right now that these policy issues aren’t getting through.

Second, contact your Senators and remind them that they work for us, and this legislation will go a long way to reining in drug prices. WHY ON EARTH would they oppose this kind of legislation? If they’re up for re-election (I’m looking at you folks in Colorado and Maine!) hammer this one HARD.

Script: Hi, my name is ____ and I’m calling from ____. I want to know what the Senator’s position is on the Elijah Cummings Lower Drug Costs Act. Mitch McConnell hasn’t done anything with it – it’s not even been assigned to a committee! But the Senator has said s/he wants to lower drug costs. Why is this bill being held back? Why is the Senator sitting on her/his hands when this bill is ready to move?

Wednesday: POSTCARDS TO WISCONSIN 

If you’re a postcard writer and you’re looking for a new initiative, look no further than Indivisible Chicago‘s Postcards To Wisconsin project.

A few ways this is different from Postcards to Voters. First – they send you the postcards. Yep! Straight to your door. They send the postcards, addresses, and instructions. You supply the stamps and penmanship.

Second, these postcards go to Wisconsin voters before the April 7 primary as a general GOTV (not campaign/candidate specific). Their goal is to send 500,000 postcards to voters to encourage them to go out and vote. As we all know, once you vote once, you’re more likely to vote again… and again… and again…

It’s simple to help with this GOTV project, and because you don’t have to send the postcards until March 20-26, you’ve got oodles of time to write.

Learn more and order your postcards here: https://www.postcards2wi.com/getpostcards 

Thursday: GLOBAL CLIMATE SKILL-UPS  

Sign up for these online courses provided by 350.org about climate change and what you can do to have an impact. Through activities and multimedia, the trainings teach skills to use when it comes to grassroots organizing and networking. “Courses include: intro and advanced campaigning, causes of climate change, how to have climate change conversations, movements, divestment, and much more!”

350.org has also done a good job making the courses accessible. Not only are they completely free, but they can be run on all sorts of devices (phones, tablets, computers, etc.) and via high-speed or small bandwidth. That’s SUPER important and something not nearly enough organizations are considering! Head here to sign up: https://trainings.350.org/online-skill-ups/?_ga=2.4707831.595066820.1581388049-1346405710.1581388049

Friday:  MARCH FOR OUR LIVES 

Friday, February 14th marks the second anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

To honor the lives lost and support the national March For Our Lives movement, join or support a chapter near you: https://marchforourlives.com/chapters/. If there is not a chapter near you, you can sign up to start one at https://marchforourlives.com/start-a-chapter/

On Friday, please call your Senators and tell them you want universal background checks. S.42, the Background Check Expansion Act, is in the Senate; it has 41 cosponsors (all of them Democrats and Independent). Check to see if your Senators are supporting the bill here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/42/cosponsors?q={%22search%22:[%22s42%22]}&s=1&r=1&overview=closed&searchResultViewType=expanded&KWICView=false

Background checks are a no-brainer. 97% of Americans want background checks, for God’s sake!

So again, contact your Senators. If they’re already co-sponsors of the legislation, say thanks! If they aren’t, ask WHY NOT (especially the Democrats).

Script: Hi, my name is ___ and I’m calling from ___. I’m calling to ask why the Senator is not a cosponsor of S.42, the Background Check Expansion Act. Today is the anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting. We owe it to our kids, and the Senator owes it to his/her constituents, to do what we can to pass common sense gun legislation. It doesn’t get more common sense than background checks – and 97% of Americans support them. Why doesn’t the Senator?

WHEW! GO TEAM!

P.S.: 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!

P.P.S.: If you want to help support this work 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.

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. Don’t you forget it.

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