Portrait of a Campaign Season

Et ignotas animum dimittit in artes

IT WAS December 2016 and the mood was dismal. The manifestation of the devils of our nature loomed. This devil, one of our own design, was allowed by the evil of some and the passivity of most. Fear and shock prevailed. Yet something stirred. The stakes felt higher than before. The mood changed – not hopeful – but resolute. We would not go gently, no matter what, and we wouldn’t watch our friends suffer while we sat silent.

It was about this time that I met Lisa Parshley, a political neophyte with sincerity and something in her eyes that told me she was the real deal. We spoke for an hour or so at that first meeting, covering her background, history, politics… but I only needed about ten minutes to know that I wanted to help her win. Her spirit – to overcome obstacles, persevere, to be kind yet firm  – it was what our city needed.

As we built her campaign and the team formed and grew, other campaigns formed around us and we quickly saw that Lisa wasn’t running on an island. Progressives were standing up, stepping up, and ready to support each other and win (or lose) together. We knew that the money might not be on our side, but we knew we had people. We had each other, and love and respect.

We began having coordinated campaign meetings where we would commiserate, plan, and give support and solidarity. We shared data and volunteers and coordinated our field operations. We knew where every campaign was, had been, and where they were going next.  It’s been said it was the first coordinated campaign of its kind here at this level.

Across the board, we had opponents who practiced the politics of old: dismiss, distort, distract, dismay. Dismiss the facts and say whatever you want because a lie repeated enough times becomes truth. Distort your image to fit whatever you think you need to be on that day. Distract people from your lack of real solutions by making grand promises. Dismay people into resignation to mediocrity.

Together we forged a new path. We created a new politics: embrace, enlighten, engage, empower. Embrace each other across our differences and promote fellowship among people across affinities. Enlighten and educate people  – promote smart choices, not emotional ones. Engage people, bringing them into the process from goal-setting to design to action to revision. Empower people to take leadership and hold electeds and executives accountable.

Let me be clear. This isn’t a rant on how I feel politics should be. This is a recounting of what we did. We took the resistance and organized it and mobilized it, and it’s going to lead us to victory. We may not win them all tonight – we could – but we’ll definitely win some, and then we’ll keep building. I’m allowing myself hope for the first time in a long time because of this amazing community of advocates and activists who aren’t going to stop pushing.

Into the future I go, conscious of an invisible grace pervading and making light my limbs.

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