Can we just leave HRC alone? Please?

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Just when she thought she could grieve in peace, along comes yet one more reporter who couldn’t resist taking a photo of Hillary Clinton…staring at her phone. Clinton is sitting alone at a restaurant table, presumably having just finished breakfast, and she’s…staring at her phone.

She’s not surrounded by handlers, adoring fans, the press corps, or Secret Service agents. She’s just doing what a lot of us are probably doing right now: staring at her damn phone. But because she’s Hillary Freakin’ Clinton, it’s apparently newsworthy enough to at least this reporter that she felt the need to not only snap the photo but post it to her verified Twitter account. Because, you know, there just aren’t enough photos of Hillary post-election doing everyday things.

Yes, I realize that, having lived in the public eye for most of her life, Clinton shouldn’t really expect to just disappear into obscurity, no matter how much she might wish to do so. She has both loathed and loved being in the spotlight, and has been willing to sacrifice more than any of us could possibly imagine so that she can perform public service and catapult herself to one of the highest levels of government as Secretary of State.

Most of all, though, she’s willingly sacrificed her dignity a million and one times as our national punching bag. Louis C.K.’s eloquent, brilliant summation of Hillary’s qualifications as president, which he shared on Conan shortly before the election, pretty much nails the role she’s played in the political arena for decades:

Folks, after all of what this fierce, terrifyingly smart woman has endured on our behalf for most of her life, can we just let her be for awhile? Surely she deserves at least that. She’s earned the right to grieve and recover on her own time, on her own terms, whether she wants to do it in the privacy of her home or the privacy of a quiet moment at the breakfast table in some restaurant. No one is doing the nation any favors by projecting her unguarded moments on our collective psyche, as if she still owes us anything. If anything, we owe her a debt we can never really pay back.

Take a break, but don’t forget to come back

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FROM NPR:

We asked how your social media habits changed after the election. More than 150 of you replied — and most are tired, deleting apps, unfriending people, tuning out politics or worried for family ties.

Source: After Divisive Election, Overwhelmed Social Media Users Unfriend, Cut Back : All Tech Considered : NPR


 

NPR recently published the above article about the narrowing of communities, courtesy of the most divisive, negative and emotionally gripping election most Americans have been unfortunate enough to have lived through. Specifically, people are unfriending like mad on Facebook, or otherwise staying away from social media altogether. I spoke with a colleague today who said that she’s been avoiding the social network of late because she “need[s] a break from people.”

I get that. A couple dozen (maybe more?) of my Facebook friends are staunchly pro-Trump or are otherwise deeply conservative, and they share a lot of content that I find personally repugnant, and that’s not even including the “news articles” populating their feeds that are so obviously fake that I question their basic intelligence.

I completely understand the desire to disengage, to retreat into one’s private space to reflect, maybe forget even for just a little while all the disheartening stories and news of the last few weeks. I, for one, realize that I can’t “unhear” that stomach-churning, horrifying Access Hollywood tape from early October, and that was just one example of just how much damage has been wrought by one very angry, self-absorbed and manipulative narcissist. (And now he’s our president. Ugh. There I go again. Where’s the sangria when I need it?)

Still, I hope that very soon, good, conscientious people will return to the communities in which they once thrived and through which they were involved in civic society. We need more people with a commitment and passion for social and economic justice; freedom of speech, religion and of the press; reproductive rights; human rights; and so many other civil liberties that are now being threatened under the impending new administration.

So many people reached out to me privately, either just before or just after the election, lamenting that they didn’t feel they did enough. As any good therapist will tell you, there’s no sense in wishing for what might have been. Instead, channel that disappointment and anger into productive action. Come back to your community, even if your heart is still a little bruised, and your head is still smarting from the pain. Come back to your networks, and double down on your outreach. We still need Joe Biden memes, cat GIFs, puppy videos, holiday baking recipes, and the latest news from Kamp Kardashian. But we also need people to participate as fully informed citizens of a democratic society.

Of course, sharing meaningful, thought-provoking news and essays on social media (obviously, I don’t mean these news articles) should just be the beginning of one’s engagement. I loved the proliferation of “how to be involved” articles in the days after the apocalypse election. Here are two of my favorites:

How to Channel Your Post-Election Anger, Sadness, and Fear Into Action (from Slate.com)

Finish Your Ugly Crying. Here’s What Comes Next. (from NYMag.com)

I’ve already done a couple (after, of course, hanging out in Barcelona for a few days. Business trip, believe it or not!). Namely: becoming a monthly donor to my favorite progressive organizations (that would be the ACLU and Planned Parenthood), and paying for the journalism that sustained me throughout the election. I also have been in touch with my fellow Hillary for America volunteers, and we’re working on our post-2016 strategy. We’re setting our sites on defeating Ted Cruz’s reelection bid in 2018, and for that, we have to start now.

Another “next step?” Figuring out, along with so many other of my progressives-in-arms, who would make a great candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020. Right now, there’s not a very long list, but I’m thinking this particular woman might just deserve a place on it.

 

 

I delivered for HRC

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Justin, the Region 19 GOTV director for North Carolina for the Hillary for America campaign and my supervisor of sorts during my volunteer work there, texted me last night as we were commiserating over our shared grief.

Feel good about doing your part. We won in Cumberland.

I have to admit, I cried when I read that. We may not have been able to win the national election, but I and my fellow volunteers in Cumberland County, North Carolina, delivered for Hillary Clinton. I take comfort in that. I did my part. I left it all on the field. Democracy works.

Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow

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If, tomorrow morning, we end up with the result we didn’t think was possible, give yourself 24 hours to grieve, unload your anger over a pint of ice cream, and/or write furiously in your journal or blog.

Then, pick yourself up from that fetal position on the floor and focus on 2018. If you live in Texas, that means defeating Ted Cruz in his reelection campaign. Volunteer for progressive organizations like Annie’s List that are working to identify and support left-leaning candidates for statewide office. Lean hard on your elected representatives (even — especially — if you didn’t vote for them because they still represent you) and keep them accountable.

Democracy is a contact sport, folks. Play hard.

Scenes from a Campaign

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I didn’t take a lot of photos while I was in North Carolina — too busy! But I made sure to whip out the camera at really key, memorable moments. I’ll never forget the people I worked with, the people I met, and the many experiences I had.

Democracy in my heart

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Today was rough. My first shift was in a rural town outside of Fayetteville, and today I was really thankful I had an SUV. Lots of dirt roads, lots of sand (?!), and on one occasion, a house at the end of a long, sheltered driveway that I couldn’t reach, but I realized this only after I had already driven well into that driveway, which was surrounded on one side by a forest of trees and on the other by a deep, wide ditch. Took me fifteen minutes to back out of there.

Lots of long walks under the afternoon sun down single track dirt roads, only to find that no one was home. (Still worth making the trek, though. You never know what’s behind every door — could be the vote that calls the election.)

People are clearly tired of this election because I had plenty of irritated folks who refused to speak with me once they saw my Hillary shirt. One man yelled at me as I walked down his driveway. (I wasn’t sure how he ended up on my list, which is supposed to consist of Democratic voters and Democratic-leaning independents/unaffiliateds. And no, I did not engage. I just waved goodbye and left.)

I took one more shift later this afternoon that lasted well into the evening. (The campaign office had to call me back to the office. There’s always one more house to visit — it’s hard to stop!) I had to make up for what I felt was a dispiriting afternoon shift. I felt like I had to end the day on a high note.

One of my last houses was on a quiet, poor, and dimly lit street in a working class neighborhood. As I got out of my car, two girls walked up and asked me if I was the landlord. I said no, and they silently kept walking. I imagine not a lot of people — let alone women traveling solo — drive up to their neighborhood after dark in a new, shiny SUV.

The house had a rickety front porch, with floorboards that creaked under every footfall. I normally would not visit a house at night with a dead porchlight, but I liked the warm yellow light peeking from behind the broken Venetian blinds. I heard yelling inside, and then a face at the window.

When people visit neighborhoods like this at night, the residents likely have more to fear of the person at their front door than the person actually at the front door. Their expressions when they see me never fail to amuse me.

I asked for each person on my list — there were five listed as living at that address. The young twentysomething man in a Chicago Bulls shirt mumbled that he was the guy I called last, so I launched into my little speech about getting out the vote. I asked him if we could count on him to vote for Hillary Clinton for president.

You should’ve seen the look on his face. Sort of a “Wait, you’re here at 7:30 at night, and that’s what you want? My vote?”

Well. Yeah.

He nodded with a smile. “Yeah. I’ll vote for Hillary. I ain’t voting for no Trump.”

“Wonderful! What about Roy Cooper for governor? Can we count on your vote for him?”

Bigger smile. “Yeah.”

“And Deborah Ross for U.S. Senate? Can we count on you to vote for her?”

He’s laughing now. “Oh yeah. I only vote Democratic. I’ll vote.”

By then he was joined on the porch by two women, whom I assumed were his sister and mother. They were smiling, too. They chanted that they could never vote for Trump, that they would absolutely make it to the polls on Tuesday, that they will definitely vote.

I reminded them of their polling station, and I was happy to know that they already knew where it was. I handed them the little slip of paper with the polling station hours, which they happily took. They promised they would vote, that they would take time out of what was surely a challenging week, to exercise their right as US citizens.

That’s one of the things that most inspiring to me about this work. It’s not always going to be a party on every front porch. People have been mostly friendly, but not always. It’s clearly been a hard-fought, incredibly negative, and at times brutal campaign, and people are tired. In a battleground state like North Carolina, I can only imagine how many times each resident gets a visit, a phone call, another piece of campaign literature, all in a single day, several times a week.

But I visited both well-to-do and desperately poor people today. I knocked on fancy, polished doors, and doors that were barely hanging on to a hinge. I talked to people with shiny cars parked in their driveway, and people with no cars at all. I talked to people to whom the country has been very generous, and people who clearly have been let down and forgotten by their government, even their city and their neighborhood.

What struck and inspired me as I knocked on all of these doors is that, no matter how much they were given, or how much had been taken away (if they ever had anything), every single person has one vote. No more. No less. Every single person on my list had the right to choose their representatives in government. Wealthy or impoverished, everyone has a right to vote.

I know it sounds super corny, but I really did feel privileged to be asking these folks for that vote on behalf of “my” candidates. I felt especially honored to ask for that vote from people who feel they don’t have a voice, because it reminds me and them that they do.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to destroy this brownie.

Obama’s speech at Fayetteville State

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This was the event I attended at Fayetteville State University yesterday featuring President Obama. The man stood out from the beginning, and quite a few of us had noticed him earlier in the event, although we had no idea he would turn out to be a Trump supporter.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/obama-defends-trump-supporter-video_us_581cebe0e4b0d9ce6fbc0910?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063

A lot of the articles describing the crowd reaction got it completely wrong. People weren’t angry (although I’m sure there were a few here and there who might have been). Most of the people I saw were amused, surprised, maybe a little puzzled, but not angry. We all started chanting “Hillary” as he continued to wave his banner, but the energy was overwhelmingly positive and spirited, not angry. If anything a few of us were laughing because the situation seemed absurd.

It turned out to be a momentary distraction, and within minutes we had refocused our attention on the president’s inspiring speech.