Don’t think of it as losing an election. Think of it as gaining a wakeup call. ~Jon Lovett
“[T]o all of the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.” ~Hillary Rodham Clinton
It was November 9, 2016 – five years ago to the day – when a woman steeled herself, donned a purple suit, and strode onto the stage.
To all the little girls…
I couldn’t watch her concession. My husband told me about it later, in the kind of gentle tones you use to describe someone’s death.
Instead, while Hillary Rodham Clinton made that speech, I was sitting in my car in the grocery store parking lot near my son’s school. I was drinking coffee while tears streamed down my face, and trying to make sense of it all. Am I overreacting? I wondered. As we know now, I was not.
Neither were you.
I’m sure you remember that day just as I do. The scratchy throat, the burning eyes. The confusion and the self-doubt – Did that really happen? Could he really be that bad? (Answer: yes, and yes.)
So, I’m not a big fan of polls.
Often, our brains contort them into confirming what we already believe. And too often, they lull people into inaction. (“Meh. I don’t need to vote. She’s going to win anyway. Didn’t you see the polls?”)
I also think it’s hard to take people’s temperature these days. A sizable chunk of the American population doesn’t really answer polls to begin with. Another sizable chunk is going to lie – not because they think they’re lying, but because they can’t really be honest with themselves.
So, instead of looking at what people say they’re going to do, I prefer to look at what they actually do.
And I did take notice of last week’s elections in Virginia.
I’m sure that since last week you’ve gotten plenty of emails and read plenty of post-mortems about that election. The fact is, the Democrat (Terry McCauliffe) lost to a J.Crew-vested Republican who rallied against a made-up educational doctrine that served as a racist-lite surrogate for parents’ anger.
I heard from a number of you afterwards – who are understandably and justifiably concerned about those results and what they may portend.
And I promised to address that election in today’s post.
But I think the best way to address last week’s election is to look back at an election five years ago – the one that may have engaged you in politics in the first place.
Friend, we didn’t get the result in Virginia that we wanted. But we did get something critical from it. Information … and …
Anyone who works with campaigns will tell you that the most critical resource is time. Every day that goes by is spent wisely or foolishly – but it’s spent, either way.
We learned a lot from Virginia – certainly more than a poll would tell us. Specifically, we learned that we have a lot of work to do.
And we learned that a year in advance of critical midterm elections that will decide so much more than just who controls what chamber.
On this day five years ago, I would have done anything to have altered the outcome of the election the day before.
Now, we’ve been given an entire year to work with. That is a valuable gift. It’s one that I won’t waste.
So rather than reading the latest analysis and tracking the polls, listening to pundits wax on about why they think one demographic or another went this way or that, I’m going to see Virginia for what it is: a message that we need to be doing as much as we can, as fast as we can, in as many places as we can.
I’ll be spending the next year registering voters, supporting candidates, pushing our legislators … and encouraging people like you.
And now, as you reflect on the last five years and remember what this night was like in November 2016, my question for you is simple.
You’ve been given a year.
How are you going to use it?
Let’s get to work.
Actions for the Week of November 9, 2021
Five-Star book recommendation: Laboratories of Autocracy
David Pepper, former Ohio Democratic Party Chair, just released an *amazing* book about the dire situation in our state legislatures. I picked it up after I saw Hillary Clinton’s tweet recommending it, and I can’t tell you how enlightening, validating, and terrifying it is.
It’s also inspiring! – because rather than being just a book that scares the pants off of you and then … just ends, Pepper’s book provides helpful suggestions for what we can do to improve our situation in state legislatures.
And folks, you know how much I love an action list!
Trust that in the coming weeks we’ll be tackling some of the action items. But first, please head over to your local bookstore or retailer and grab a copy for yourself. (You can also pick it up via Bookshop, an online alternative which supports local bookstores, or, of course, Amazon).
Wednesday: Text Families Who Need to Sign Up for the Child Tax Credit (H/T Jessica Craven of Chop Wood Carry Water)
What an excellent, impactful action! The expansion of the Child Tax Credit could halve child poverty in America, but only if we reach the families who need it most. The Leadership Conference is hosting a Child Tax Credit text bank on Wednesday, November 10th at 6pm ET where volunteers will be trained on how to text parents who need to sign up for the CTC. All volunteers will leave the event having made a tangible impact in the lives of women and families across the country.
SIGN UP HERE TO JOIN them on November 10th at 6 p.m. EST, and text parents who need to sign up for the CTC.
Join the Declaration for American Democracy Coalition and Call on Your Senators to Pass the Freedom to Vote Act
The Declaration for American Democracy is an anti-oppression coalition of 230+ organizations working together to make the promise of democracy real for all of us. The Coalition believes our democratic systems, institutions, and leaders must reflect, represent, and respect the diverse, multicultural nation that we are and have always been.
This week during recess, the Coalition is hosting events across the country supporting the Freedom to Vote Act. The Freedom to Vote Act (S. 2747) would make Election Day a federal holiday, set national standards for voting rights, and require disclosure of “dark money” political campaign contributions.
You can find an event at Mobilize here https://www.mobilize.us/dfadcoalition/ But even if there isn’t an event near you, you can – and should – call your Senators and tell them that democracy is truly on the line and that the filibuster should not be used to fight measures that ensure fair voting access.
Then call the White House! The White House comment line is at 1.888.724.8746 and is open on Tuesdays from 11am-3pm eastern. Biden has said that we are facing “the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War.” He’s right and we need him to use every lever of power and influence at his disposal to persuade the Senate to pass the Freedom To Vote Act, including speaking out against the filibuster. When you reach a staff member, tell them your name and that you are a constituent. Then, demand that President Biden do everything in his power to help overcome the filibuster and pass the Freedom to Vote Act.
Your voice is powerful, now it’s time to raise it up to the Oval Office. Call on the Biden-Harris White House to lead this fight to protect the freedom to vote.
Share the Good News!
Passing the infrastructure bill was a big, big deal. Just how big of a deal? Well, if you based your impression on the news media’s reaction, you might not realize that it’s the largest investment in infrastructure in over 50 years.
Did I want it to be even bigger? You betcha.
But let’s stop with the circular firing squad, folks, and celebrate a big win!
We have GOT to start touting the great things that Democrats are doing. We need to talk about infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure until we are blue in the face.
One of the best ways to do that is to share some really great graphics that the AFL-CIO has put together – seemingly for each state.
Awesome, right? If you’re on Twitter, you can find these at your own state’s AFL-CIO’s Twitter feed. I think they do an excellent job of simply setting out exactly what your state stands to gain from this massive investment!
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.