Thinking about: A call to action

It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours. Because for all our outward differences, we all share the same proud title: Citizen.

Ultimately, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try to talk with one in real life. If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Persevere. —President Obama, January 10, 2017

It’s election day today. Some of you—there are elections and ballot measures up for votes in Utah, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, Ohio, and Georgia—may be out voting right now. Thank you!

We’ll be watching from California, but not all of us from the sidelines: A reader recently sent me an email with an inspiring story of one woman, Regina Bateson, who, likewise dismayed about the current political climate, turned her frustration and disappointment into action. She took a leave of absence from her job as a political science professor at MIT to return to her hometown of Roseville to challenge the 4th Congressional District incumbent, Republican Tom McClintock. And no matter what your politics, I thought you might be inspired as I was simply to hear a story of someone willing to take that chance—to put her career on hold to get into public office. To dive in.

Now a bit of context…

this isn’t my district, but I care about all of our representation in the House. And this one is very nearby—and very close to my heart. Not only does Aron work there, but this is the district that includes Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park. And as NPR reported, the incumbent is a denier of human-caused climate change: “[it happens] rather dramatically over the millennium,” he said. “There is a great debate right now over the climate.”

I am so happy that Regina is mounting a challenge.

Apparently, she was looking for a way and took the leap thanks to a crowdfunding site called that lets one test the waters.

Here’s a description from the NPR profile:

Like other sites, Crowdpac (which is nonpartisan), ranks candidates on issues and lets you donate. Unlike others, Crowdpac also lets you explore the idea of running for office, without having to commit.

It’s a simple idea that’s worked to grow marketplaces and competition outside of politics. If you’re thinking about creating a dream juicer, there are plenty of places to go to raise money, like Kickstarter. But if you think you may want to run for office—be a congressperson—until recently there hadn’t been a place online where you could test the waters financially. …

Bateson made a page for herself. It went viral in her district. She got more than $4,000 in the first 24 hours. In just over a month, she hit her goal of $20,000. And emboldened by this strange realization—that people she doesn’t even know are willing to give her campaign money—the former professor decided to leave her job and become Candidate Bateson.

I’m grateful for people like her who are willing to show up like that! And I love the idea of using crowdfunding in the realm of politics. It has been suggested that grassroots organizing can bring more people out to the polls.

Do you know anyone who has been looking for a nudge? 

P.S. Wit & Delight just published a great interview about the importance of getting involved locally. Also, I recently submitted an application to serve on a city council committee. I’m not sure how likely it is that I’ll be selected for this one, but I’m going to keep looking for ways to serve. I want to be sure I’m “lacing up my shoes.” It’s one reason I try to post about politics on here from time to time—even if its sometimes uncomfortable.

[Illustration by Paola Delucca, via Refinery 29 from an article on Crowdpac]


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