Dissent speaks to a future age. It’s not simply to say, ‘my colleagues are wrong and I would do it this way,’ but the greatest dissents do become court opinions. ~Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time. ~Ruth Bader Ginsburg
I was loading groceries into the car when I got a text from a friend.
Drafting RBG tweet, it said.
And I knew.
My heart fell to my stomach. I spent the long drive home in thought, and in tears. I’ll bet you spent your Friday night in a similar state.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg. RBG. #NotoriusRBG. Mother. Lawyer. Justice. Lioness.
At 87 years old, she played through the pain of cancer (multiple times), chemo, broken ribs. She was a wisp of a thing – barely 100 pounds soaking wet. Her slight frame disguised the steely, determined, resilient woman than lived within.
She was fearless – almost enviably so. She didn’t hide who she was, and she didn’t hide what she believed. She wore sequined shoes, fishnet gloves, jade teardrop earrings and a myriad frilled, fringed, bedazzled collars – each having some underlying significance.
One favorite golden-hued collar she often wore when giving a majority opinion. Another fairly simple white one she considered her favorite. Some collars were flashier than others, certainly.
But she sparkled especially in her dissents – both figuratively and literally. Her shining, metal, tough-as-nails Dissent collar became famous.
Because she wore it … when she disagreed.
Whenever she dissented from the majority opinion, she’d don that now-famous collar – and as the Justices got seated, well before anyone even read the opinion, the entire courtroom would know where she stood. Just by looking at her.
I Dissent. It sounds so formal. Regal, almost. And in the context of a Supreme Court opinion, I suppose it’s a little of both.
But at the end of the day, it’s simply standing your ground – proudly – and then ensuring the world knows where you stand.
Ginsburg understood the power of a well-written and well-reasoned dissent. Those dissents honor the moment they’re written in … but speak to the future. They show the way. Light up the road ahead. Provide a map for the next traveler, to clear their path.
Dissent may be defiance – but it’s grounded in hope. You’d not bother to dissent if you believed your opinion didn’t matter and things could never change. It would be easier to dissent without opinion, or to just go with the flow and vote with the majority.
But to dissent, to speak up publicly, to shake your head “no” and proclaim that this isn’t the right way? Well, that means you believe there’s a reason for you to go to the trouble. That you matter. That things can change and you can be part of it. That you can even lead the way.
She wore her Dissent Collar the day after the 2016 election, taking her stand and showing solidarity in the most feminine of ways. By accessorizing her anger, and telling the world: I dissent to this.
So did we.
We’ve continued with our visible, vocal, effective dissent over the past four years, putting our collective feet down – both literally and figuratively. We’ve used the last four years to explain how the world could be. To light the path. To prepare the road.
It’s not easy living in the minority. But we don’t have to keep enduring the shock-and-awe campaign of crisis. In less than two months we have the best opportunity we’ve had in four years to make our dissent abundantly, electorally, clear.
It breaks my heart that we lost RBG this week. But if we can take anything from her life, it’s that we must dissent when it’s needed. That we must use our voice, especially when our voice is the only power we have left. That we must champion one another with the same spirit she would champion us. That we must ensure every voice is heard, that every vote is counted, and that every freedom is protected.
I hope her life inspires you, as it inspires me. Let that inspiration light our way to November.
May her memory be a blessing.
May her legacy be a revolution.
Let’s get to work.
Actions for the Week of September 22, 2020
Tuesday: Today is National Voter Registration Day!
If ever there was a week in which registering voters felt like an important action…
Today is National Voter Registration Day! If you’re not talking to everyone in your network about the importance of voting and getting registered, that’s one of the most important things for you to do right now. Social Pressure Is Real. So if people see you talking about voting and being a voter, they’ll be more likely to be voters, too.
So head over to your social media channel of choice and share www.Vote.org, which makes it easy to check your registration – and has great information for all fifty states. (Reminder: You should check your registration right now.)
Wednesday: 2020 senate priority races
Jonathan Zucker, first CFO and second CEO of ActBlue and founder of It Starts Today (www.itstarts.today), has assembled an incredibly helpful list of 2020 Senate Priority races, based upon a combination of electoral chances and current support.
If you want to support candidates but are trying to figure out which races you should focus on, this is your resource! Check it out here: https://contribute.itstarts.today/2020_priorities/contribute
Important: if/when you donate via the 2020 Priorities, your donation will go to the nominee. Many of the funds I’ve seen pushed through social media are funding superPACs that can (and will) use the donations they receive for their own funding. That’s a significant difference, so it’s something to watch out for!
Full disclosure that Jonathan and I work together at It Starts Today and It Starts Today-Missouri where we raise funds for Democratic nominees for Congress and state legislature. I can attest to his expertise on these issues – which is why we created this project. I saw so many folks who were looking for direction on what races to prioritize. We developed this resource/series of funds to answer that need and make it easy for you to take action. Hope it’s helpful!
Thursday: Attend an event, phonebank, help flip the senate
Indivisible was made for moments like these. On short notice, they’ve been able to mobilize and amplify efforts nationally. It’s pretty impressive, tbh.
They will be holding an emergency activist call on the day Trump announces his nominee. Register here to be notified when it’s scheduled: https://act.indivisible.org/signup/scotus-emergency-natl-call/
Go to https://savescotus.indivisible.org to find a bunch of different active ways to channel your anger right now.
Find an event (RBG vigil, phonebank, text bank, letter writing, you name it) here: https://indivisible.org/events (right now there are over 600)
As of Tuesday night, McConnell has enough Republican Senators’ votes to confirm whomever Trump nominates. (Literally – like, we don’t even know who the nominee will be yet and they’re already pledging allegiance.)
Let that anger wash over you like fuel. Let’s use that fuel over the next few weeks!
Friday: Flowers for Ruth
Obviously I’ve already highlighted plenty of Indivisible’s actions this week.
But one of the actions their founder, Ezra Levin, mentioned in an interview on Monday night really stuck with me.
Friday, Justice Ginsburg will lie in state. On Friday, Indivisible is asking us to bring flowers to our Senators’ offices, with cards and statements about what she means to us.
For those of you who have children at home that you are (virtual/home) schooling, this is a great project to have them participate in by drawing pictures and writing personal letters. It’s been a really long time since we’ve engaged in such a personal action, and it’s appropriate for this moment. Send me photos please!
WHEW! GO, TEAM! SUPER PROUD OF YOU!
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!
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.