On Impossible Odds … and Hummingbirds

Quitters don’t write the future. ~Steve Schmidt

But we should always feel like the hummingbird. I may feel insignificant, but I don’t want to be like the other animals watching the planet go down the drain. I’ll be a hummingbird, I’ll do the best I can. ~Wangari Maathai

There is a lot of big stuff going on right now. So I thought we’d talk about the power of (seemingly) small things.

I have two hummingbird feeders, just outside this window.

And right this second, I’m watching an epic battle between four zip-swooshing blurs of jewel green feathers, all wanting the same perch, at the same feeder. It’s entertaining, in a chaotic sort of way.

I am fascinated by these little creatures. I watched a documentary about hummingbirds recently, and one of the passages from it stuck with me: Hummingbirds live at the limit of what’s possible.

That’s one hundred percent accurate.

They are nature’s itty bitty helicopters – the only birds capable of flying backwards(!). They hibernate every night, take a half hour to wake up, need to eat every 15 minutes, travel thousands of miles in one fell swoop, and have wee wings that beat so fast you can hear their whirr and feel their vibration – but not see them in motion.

I treasure them, because they appear so impossible. 

Of course hummingbirds make no mind as to whether they seem impossible or not. They just continue on defying gravity and physics and happily eating up all my sugar water.

They are one of nature’s reminders that everything is outrageously impossible until it’s not – a lesson that we need to remember more, not less, these days.

I was watching the hummingbirds outside my window this past week, as I called a number of Democratic nominees for Ohio’s state legislature. Ohio, like many midwestern red states, is gerrymandered to the hilt.

And so, to a person, the people I spoke with are running in deep, cherry-red districts. My call was to describe the support they’ll be getting from a new program I co-founded (www.BlueOhio.org) that’s dedicated to helping nominees like them, who are running in races that are such long shots they would otherwise get no support.

For any one of them to win their race would be considered conventionally impossible. Anyone looking at a spreadsheet of the Democratic vote share in their district would shake their head and heave a big sigh.

But you’d never know it from the conversations I was having.

I just got the voter phone numbers from the election board, and – there are twice as many independents as Republicans in this district!

I was talking to this Republican at the fair. We had a great conversation. And at the end, she took my card. I’m telling you, people are looking for options.

I just feel it. There’s this energy. I know this is winnable. I know it doesn’t look that way. But there’s something different.

I spent hours on the phone with these folks. Every conversation was inspiring, and humbling as a result. They’re out there pounding the pavement and having the tough conversations – which go better than you’d expect.

They’re doing the work.

They’re testing the assumptions.

They’re testing what’s possible.

You’d think that the least we could do is give them the resources to try their best. But, usually, those in the toughest races get the least support. That has always seemed like a destructive self-fulfilling prophesy to me – after all, progress is always cumulative and quitting before we’ve begun isn’t good strategy.

It reminded me of a part of Steve Schmidt’s newsletter this morning. Quitters don’t write the future.

Friend, we forget that America itself was impossible, once. She was a hair-brained idea that a few people wouldn’t give up on, that against all odds flourished, and that lit a fire of democracy that spread across the world.

But before she was an inevitabilty, America was an impossibility.

Until she wasn’t.

When did we lose the obstinate audacity that makes Americans both laughable and lovable? We flew to the moon. We crossed an ocean to fight tyranny. But now we can’t be convinced to support candidates running in statehouse races – against actual Christian nationalists that endanger our entire democracy – just because we think we’ll lose?

When did we become so timid, so risk-averse, so fearful of failure that we’d refuse to even try?

Or support those who are willing to try on our behalf?

I’m not sure.

But it’s my goal in life to prove that giving it your all – throwing yourself 150% into an effort – is always honorable. It is always beneficial. It is never a waste.

And the candidates I spoke to in the last week are the best example of that ethos. Instead of just watching a rising authoritarian movement take hold, they’re trying.

They know they’re up against seemingly impossible odds. But they’re pushing back against the popular “we can’t” narrative with sheer guts and determination.

Because they know the alternative is a cakewalk election for a Christo-fascist that sponsors bills targeting trans kids and outlawing abortion from conception. That’s unacceptable to them. It should be for us, too.

Believe it or not, these folks running in ruby red districts dotted throughout the country are on the front lines of democracy. They’re fighting literal fascists with what little funding they can get, and a lot of coffee.

I think you can tell they inspire me. Just as much as my hummingbirds, who live at the limit of what’s possible. I suppose these candidates do, too.

And who knows.

Maybe these candidates will show us that what we think is impossible … is possible.

(I think they can. Heck – I think they will.)

Let’s get to work.

*P.S. If you are not a member of the Blue Ohio community – which is different from other orgs because it sends its support first to those that need it the most – you can learn more HERE and join HERE. I can tell you from personal conversations that the nominees will appreciate it … more than you’ll ever know.

Actions for the Week of August 16, 2022

Help Mission for Arizona & Northeast AZ Democrats Reach Out to Native Voters

We’ve talked before about the important work being done by the Northeast AZ Democrats in building relationships with voters across NE AZ, especially with native peoples. Here’s another way to pitch in and help their efforts! From their Mobilize event:

Join us Wednesdays (with Mission for Arizona), Thursdays and Saturdays (with the Bay Area Coalition) for our virtual phone bank to reach out to Navajo, Hopi, and Apache voters to unleash the power of Native votes on November 8th and beyond.

We’ll begin each week in our Zoom meeting, review the week’s script, and then make calls for two hours. You can stay on the Zoom if you’d like help (or company), or you can hop off to make calls on your own.

Why are these calls so important? Northeast Arizona tribal voters can defend Mark Kelly’s Senate seat (and our National Senate majority), and flip statewide offices – including the Governor – this fall! Help us make sure Native Democrats have all the information they need to register for mail-in voting (AEVL), triple their votes, and support Democrats up and down the ballot this fall. The work you do now to empower Native voters will last beyond the next election, and build political power for Native communities.

Link to event: https://www.mobilize.us/mobilize/event/428501/

Join Vote Save America for its Organizing Training Series:

Vote Save America, the organization founded by Pod Save America hosts, is restarting its organizing efforts. They’re hosting some training events in the upcoming weeks. From their Mobilize page:

Are you brand new to volunteering for campaigns? Are you a seasoned veteran but want a refresher or a venue to share your knowledge? We invite everyone to join Vote Save America’s Organizing Training Series. Whether you are calling voters in another state, or talking to a friend, we will prepare you to know what to say in the important moments, and to be a good listener when it matters most, for whatever voter contact tactic you are involved with.

Our first two training series events will take place on August 18th and August 25th. Participants who join will be able to:

  • Share their personal story to voters in different settings
  • Use different voter contact tools
  • Explain and differentiate who campaigns reach out to and why
  • Understand which populations can be overlooked by campaigns, and what we can do about it
  • Make a “hard ask” of their close friends to join the VSA community

Sign up for the event to receive information on how to join the call and our Vote Save America Community.

https://www.mobilize.us/crooked/event/486371/_kx=zdU58pq8BqFvECHXots1DCj1WjlBqMUaL3ZxAu6dGd4%3D.UbWYQp

Wednesdays, Join Field Team 6 and Register Voters in WI:

This is a perennial favorite virtual event. You’ll be reaching out to get people in Wisconsin registered as Democrats, or signed up to vote from home (vote by mail) if they’re already registered.

Making sure people are registered to vote, and that they can vote safely from home, is a super-effective way to make a difference. Field Team 6 will provide all training. The event will be taking place from 6-8p CT/4-6p PT Wednesdays 

https://www.mobilize.us/mobilize/event/449173/

Postcards to swing states (h/t to Jessica Craven!)

Postcards to Swing States is looking for volunteers to help rally Democrats to vote in competitive House races in CA, NY, ILL, OH, MI, NJ, ORE, VA and WA.

You’ll need to provide your own postcards and stamps for this program. They recommend ordering cards from progressivepostcards, an online store that sells postcards with several of their preferred designs for less than most sellers (I’ve used them—they’re great.) But you can order from anywhere that sells appropriate, voting-related cards.

After you sign up, they’ll email you a list of voters and instructions, which will include an October mailing date and three message options.

Sign up here. (And if you’re not already a subscriber to Jessica’s Chop Wood Carry Water action list, you’re missing out! Learn more and sign up here: https://chopwoodcarrywaterdailyactions.substack.com/about)

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

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