Who knew resisting could be so much fun?
Last Friday, I traveled to Detroit joining four-hundred-some-odd women and men, young and not so young, to talk politics — a subject I equally love and hate. Even as my lifelong passion for politics sits in the penalty box, I was eager to learn more about the movement sweeping across the nation to recruit and train new democrats to enter The Arena. According to its website:
We are in the midst of an unprecedented wave of civic enthusiasm and activism that, if channeled strategically and organized logically, can overwhelm the anti-democratic forces that have captured our country.
But we must take the time to organize our community. That’s what The Arena does.
The Arena launched its inaugural summit in Nashville last December with 450 attendees from 32 states. Before the Detroit event, the movement made a stop in Raleigh, NC last March. Board member Jason Green opened the Detroit event making it very clear that the idea to revitalize/restructure the Democratic base was inspired by the Trump presidency. Co-founders Swati Mylavarapu and Ravi Gupta wasted no time post-election drafting a plan to strategically breathe new life into a party very close to flatlining. Kudos for the vision and quick mobilization of tomorrow’s leaders.
I was given the opportunity to participate on a panel about gender barriers in politics; sort of a third wheel to my friends Miranda Christy and Holly McCall who ran difficult races last year. While I have never run for office, I’ve worked local campaigns and learned a thing or two along the way.
From my vantage point, very simply, women are unfairly judged and treated more harshly by men and women. “Isn’t she a mother?” “What is she wearing?” And as McCall experienced during her run for state representative in Tennessee, “how many times has she been married?” Surprisingly and not so much, both McCall and Christy, a former Nashville school board candidate, were (and still) called names rooted in hatred and sexism. While I’ve endured my fair share of name-calling, it pales in comparison to the attacks on my friends.
Politics, whether a candidate, sitting at the table, or working behind the scenes, is not for the faint of heart. I have enormous respect for the women who step into the arena, run their race, and stay in the game despite the outcome.
So, if you have the fire to lift your community and rebuild our nation:
- RUN for office – never underestimate how much you are needed.
- MANAGE a campaign – campaign strategy and operations need your lens.
- DONATE – I learned the hard way women are not always educated about fundraising.
- VOLUNTEER – make calls, knock doors, and work community events
And, by all means (if it’s philosophically feasible), have your sister’s back!
The night before The Arena Detroit summit, I ran across a tweet by Amy Siskind, founder of The New Agenda, an organization created to bring change to the lives of women and girls:
“Kamala wasn’t courteous
April rolled her eyes
Susan did her job
This tweet illustrates how each woman chose to resist and irrationally judged as a result.
So, where is the next event? Asking for 66 million of my closest friends.