On Anger, Viral Videos, and the Power of Standing Up

Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. ~Robert Kennedy

Democrats are too measured.

That’s what I said to my husband, as we were walking along our familiar neighborhood path one night a few weeks ago.

When something’s wrong, we should just … say so. And stop hiding how disgusted we are with it. That’s why I think those videos struck a chord with people. Finally we got a backbone, you know?

I was talking about three videos in particular.

The first was a video of Brian Schatz’s Senate speech taking down Missouri Senator Josh Hawley (which got a lot of play in Missouri). “Preposterous!” Schatz exclaimed, describing Hawley’s blockade of Department of Defense nominees unless and until the Secretary of Defense resigns. “That’s not how the world works!”

Schatz was exasperated, and he didn’t hide it.

The second was a video of Missouri State Representative Ian Mackey, an openly gay legislator. On the floor of the Missouri House, Ian asked Rep. Basye, the Republican who was advancing horrible anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, about Bayse’s brother, who is gay. Bayse admitted that his brother was afraid to tell him about his sexual orientation – fearing he would be cut off from contact with Bayse’s children.

“Why do you think he thought that?… I would have been afraid to tell you, too… because of stuff like this,” Ian barely contained his anger. “This [anti-LGBTQ+ legislation] is what consumes your time!?!”

You could have heard a pin drop, as Ian commanded the attention of the floor with a stunning, impassioned, and very personal, rebuke. Ian grew up in Hickory County, Missouri (population 8,279).

“For 18 years, I walked around with ‘nice people’ like you, who took me to ballgames. Who told me how smart I was. And who went to the ballot and voted for crap like this. And I couldn’t wait to get out. I couldn’t wait to move to a part of our state that would reject this stuff in a minute. I couldn’t wait. And thank God I made it. Thank God that I made it out. And I think every day of the kids who are still there who haven’t made it out. Who haven’t escaped from this kind of bigotry. Gentleman, I’m not afraid of you any more. Because you’re gonna lose. You may win this today. But you’re going to lose.”

If you’ve not seen it, it’s truly moving.

And the last video? Michigan State Senator Mallory McMorrow, who, on the floor of the state senate, took apart the ridiculous argument that Democrats are “groomers.” The day prior to the speech, a Republican state senator accused her by name of being a groomer (whatever that is); in response, McMorrow explained that parents like her – “a straight, white, suburban mom” that stands up for equality and civil rights – stand in the way of Republicans who want to further marginalize people.

So, who am I? I am a straight, white, Christian, married, suburban mom who knows that the very notion that learning about slavery or redlining or systemic racism somehow means that children are being taught to feel bad or hate themselves because they are white is absolute nonsense.

I want every child in this state to feel seen, heard, and supported, not marginalized and targeted because they are not straight, white, and Christian.

We cannot let hateful people … deflect from the fact that they are not doing anything to fix the real issues that impact people’s lives.

She detailed her mother’s experience being chastised by their priest for not being at mass every week – even though she missed mass because she was actually serving people at a soup kitchen. McMorrow called out that version of “performative” Christianity, spitting out the words “like putting ‘Christian’ in your Twitter bio.” (I may have clapped at that line.)

Three videos. Addressing three very different issues. Given by three very different speakers. A US Senator. A state senator. A state rep.

But the reaction to each was the same.

You could almost hear the applause as the video views racked up into the millions.

It was as simple, and as difficult, as being honest … and personal … and emotional.

In my day-to-day work, I look at a lot of messaging. So I feel like I can say with some authority that these videos are very, very different from what Democrats normally put out.

The righteous indignation. The anger, barely contained. The exasperation.

Normally, we don’t show it.

We pride ourselves in being rational. Measured. Considerate. Data-driven. All of that is good. We should expect our leaders to behave in a composed manner … during normal times.

We are not living in normal times.

Our hair is on fire. And it should be on fire.

At this point, composure feels more like gaslighting every day.

I get it that fire and brimstone isn’t really Democrats’ comfort zone. We love slogans like “Love Trumps Hate” and cling to the virtue of “When they go low, we go high” … but too often we act like somehow, as if by magic, taking the morally righteous path will guarantee victory. (It doesn’t, and it won’t.)

But even if fire and brimstone isn’t normally our thing, this tumultuous moment must be met with the passion it really deserves.

Measured responses just look indifferent. Uncaring. Aloof.

I can hear it already: “But our policies show how much we care!”

Yes, yes they do. But standing in front of someone with a white paper, telling them that your 10 point action plan will make life better for them doesn’t show them you actually see them.

It doesn’t show them that you feel their anger, their angst, their frustration.

But do you know what does?

Modeling their anger, their angst, and their frustration.

In other words, being real.

And because I think it will make it easier for folks to meet passion with passion, notice that – whether by happenstance or by design – in each of these videos, the speaker was outraged at the treatment of a group of people – not just themselves.

Even in Mallory’s case, where the impetus of the speech is her responding to a state senate colleagues reference to her as a groomer, she is responding on behalf of far more people whose identity, and sometimes very existence, has been attacked. There’s a lot you can relate to in her speech, isn’t there?

Ian was responding on behalf of all LGBTQ+ young people – especially those living in rural communities, who he thinks of every day. You can feel his worry for them, how easily he can tap into that feeling of being trapped by the “nice people” in your hometown.

Or, in Schatz’s speech, he’s speaking to Republican’s refusal to abide by the rules because of some strange belief they’re better than everyone else and can cause these sorts of concessions. Republicans are putting the country at risk for political points, and that is something to be concerned – and angry – about.

Democrats like to complain that we are bad at messaging. “If only we could fix our messaging!” goes the argument.

But I think it’s really quite simple.

When it comes to standing up for other people, and standing up for democracy, losing your composure is not only good.

It’s appropriate. It’s also authentic.

So if you’re fighting for people (or if you’re working with a candidate that is), by god show them! Be passionate. Be animated. Be forceful.

The people who you are standing up for will see it. They will feel it.

And they’ll reward you for seeing them.

Now, let’s get to work.

Actions for the Week of May 24, 2022

Small Deed, Big Heart, Big Impact

Last week I heard from Tori Horton, Small Deeds subscriber and CEO of Reset Your Nest, a professional organizing company with a women-centric social mission. It empowers women (by paying higher wages during “mom-hours”) and offers premium home organizing services for busy households (read: busy women).

Seriously, you should check out their work. –> https://www.resetyournest.com/

Now, before you get distracted and head off to your pantry to make it Pinterest-worthy, check out the family fundraiser Tori shared with me. Reset Your Nest started the fundraiser to help the Peterson family; they’ve had a rough go, with a house fire and long-standing medical issues. If you’ve ever experienced the peace that comes from a clean and organized space you’ll understand why Reset Your Nest is offering their services to help.

Tori asked if I’d be able to help get the word out to support their family fundraiser, and I’m happy to. Here’s the link: gofundme.com/f/reset-your-nest-community-the-peterson-family?qid=6194db33de21a180833a6e2a33460781

While you’re at it, check out Reset Your Nest!

Roe v. Wade: What’s Next? Virtual Panel May 26th

Talking Points Memo is having an online panel on Thursday, addressing the upcoming Supreme Court decision overturning Roe:

According to a leaked draft of a Supreme Court majority opinion, Roe v. Wade is slated to be overturned this summer. How likely is it that this draft will be the final ruling? How did we get here and what does this mean for civil liberties broadly? And how will this affect the day-to-day lives of Americans state by state? We’ll bring together journalists, experts, and practitioners for a robust discussion on possible outcomes.

The suggested contribution for this event is $5. All contributions will go to the TPM journalism fund. Contributions are not tax-deductible.

Sign up here: LINK

Vote Save America: May 24th: What’s Next

This week is the last in the Midterm Madness series hosted by Vote Save America. Even if you can’t join on May 24th, if you sign up you’ll still have access to their recordings. And, if you join them throughout May, you’ll also be first in line to join the Vote Save America Volunteer Community, a digital organizing program where you’ll be connected with your fellow VSA volunteers, receive training and mentorship from our campaign experts, and get the extra motivation we all could use to help cross the finish line strong in November.

Check it out here: https://www.mobilize.us/crooked/event/455060/?referring_vol=5054442&rname=Michele&share_context=event_details&share_medium=copy_link

Sign up for the Deep Canvass Institute


Join the Deep Canvass Institute Family for their May Deep Canvass Training Series: The Deep Canvass Institute is an exciting new national training institute, where you will be trained to have deep canvass conversations that are proven to be 102X more effective than traditional canvassing!

To become a member of the Deep Canvass Institute, you must sign up for all 3 dates: May 25th and 26th 6-9pm ET, and June 1st 6-9pm ET. But honestly, even if you can only sign up for one or two of the sessions, they still sound super valuable:

  • On Wednesday, May 25th 6-9PM ET / 3-6PM PT they will dive into what is deep canvassing, what it has achieved and training on the critical deep canvass skills of building trust and telling your stories!
  • On Thursday, May 26th 6-9PM ET / 3-6PM PT they will dive further into the deep canvassing skills of compassionate curiosity, and assertiveness!
  • Sign up for our Deep Canvass Phone bank and Training on climate change on Wednesday, June 1st 6-9PM ET / 3-6PM PT, where you will receive a full training on how to make deep canvass phone calls, all with deep canvass leaders and staff there to support you as you make your first calls!
  • Completing a phone bank shift is REQUIRED to join the Institute because only after making deep canvass calls can you begin to grow in your skills as a deep canvasser!
  • Once you have completed a phone bank shift, you are invited to join our Deep Canvass Skills Series where we will focus on the core persuasion skills of deep canvassing with the top deep canvass trainers in the country!

Support Senator Warren’s Judicial Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act 

Senator Warren and Representative Jaypal have introduced a bill called the Judicial Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act. I’m a little surprised I haven’t heard more about it, but here are some highlights. It would give Americans confidence that their judges are held to the highest ethical standards and are free from conflicts of interest by:

  • Banning federal judges from owning individual stocks and securities, commercial real estate, trusts, and other investments. (Can I get an AMEN?)
  • Strengthening restrictions on judicial gifts and privately funded travel. (Nods head.)
  • Imposing the existing Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges on the Supreme Court — the only court in the country not currently subject to an ethical code. (Did you know that it doesn’t already? Crazy, right?)
  • Improving disclosure of judicial speeches and case assignments, while mandating the livestreaming of court proceedings and new judicial workplace surveys. (When Kindergarten teachers are subjected to the same livestreaming and survey requirements, this seems reasonable, no?)
  • Requiring Supreme Court Justices to issue written recusal decisions whenever a litigant requests recusal and forcing the Judicial Conference to issue advisory opinions with their recusal recommendations. (Absolutely. Makes sense.)
  • Closing the loophole that allows judges to escape accountability by retiring from the bench, strengthening disciplinary authority for the Judicial Conference, setting up expedited impeachment procedures for federal judges, and allowing the public to file complaints against Supreme Court Justices — like all other federal judges — through a new Supreme Court Complaints Review Committee. (Love it.)
  • Limiting the ability of courts to seal records that contain important information for the protection of public health or safety, often concealed at the urging of massive corporations. (Yup.)

This legislation is a no-brainer in my mind. So it’s a bit befuddling why it’s not got more support – especially from Dems.

Here are the Senators cosponsoring:

Sen. Wyden, Ron [D-OR]*05/10/2022
Sen. Markey, Edward J. [D-MA]*05/10/2022
Sen. Sanders, Bernard [I-VT]*05/10/2022
Sen. Merkley, Jeff [D-OR]*05/10/2022
Sen. Padilla, Alex [D-CA]*05/10/2022
Sen. Smith, Tina [D-MN]*

(citation: https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/senate-bill/4177/cosponsors?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22Judicial+Ethics+and+Anti-Corruption+Act%22%2C%22Judicial%22%2C%22Ethics%22%2C%22and%22%2C%22Anti-Corruption%22%2C%22Act%22%5D%7D&r=2&s=1)

Here are the cosponsors in the House:

Rep. Nadler, Jerrold [D-NY-10]*05/10/2022
Rep. Carson, Andre [D-IN-7]*05/10/2022
Rep. Dean, Madeleine [D-PA-4]*05/10/2022
Rep. Escobar, Veronica [D-TX-16]*05/10/2022
Rep. Garcia, Jesus G. “Chuy” [D-IL-4]*05/10/2022
Rep. Jones, Mondaire [D-NY-17]*05/10/2022
Del. Norton, Eleanor Holmes [D-DC-At Large]*05/10/2022
Rep. Porter, Katie [D-CA-45]*05/10/2022
Rep. Schakowsky, Janice D. [D-IL-9]*05/10/2022
Rep. Levin, Andy [D-MI-9]*05/10/2022
Rep. Cohen, Steve [D-TN-9]*05/10/2022
Rep. Omar, Ilhan [D-MN-5]*05/10/2022
Rep. Garcia, Sylvia R. [D-TX-29]*05/10/2022
Rep. Watson Coleman, Bonnie [D-NJ-12]05/12/2022
Rep. Beyer, Donald S., Jr. [D-VA-8]05/12/2022
Rep. Khanna, Ro [D-CA-17]05/18/2022

(citation: https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/7706/cosponsors?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22Judicial+Ethics+and+Anti-Corruption+Act%22%2C%22Judicial%22%2C%22Ethics%22%2C%22and%22%2C%22Anti-Corruption%22%2C%22Act%22%5D%7D&r=1&s=1)

You know the drill: if your Senator or Rep is not on those lists, let’s give them a call and ask why they are not yet cosponsoring.

If they ARE on the list, let’s give them a call to thank them!


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 email! We’re in this together. Don’t you forget it.

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