If the last two years of political turmoil have proven anything, it’s that people like me working for good government policy and technology efficiency can only do so much — that the character of the people elected to office matters just as much.
The mid-term election on November 6th comes at a time of two solid years of news, emotion, and protest fatigue. On all sides and for many different reasons, disaffected minorities (sometimes the majority!) feel like our voices aren’t being heard or respected. But this November, you can help by starting us back on the road to accountability and better government by VOTING, helping others vote, and supporting better candidates. Here’s how.
The easiest way to support a candidate with the least amount of effort is to give them money. And they’re going to need it to be competitive!
Do your homework, pick a few races/candidates who align with your values, and donate. And do it quickly — the faster your money gets to them the faster it can make an impact. A donation on Halloween, while nice, won’t be nearly as effective as one this week.
Register and VOTE:
This ought to go without saying, but the one thing you must do is vote. The deadlines and process vary widely by state, but Vote.gov has an excellent and easy way to get started. Registration deadlines are coming soon, so do this now to be sure you’re covered.
Secondarily, election day is always on the first Tuesday in November — so have a plan for the day. Will you vote in the morning or after work? Can you get the kids to school early or pick them up early? What if the weather is bad...etc. Think about these things and have a plan. Most employers will let people take some time to vote, so leverage that too.
Encourage and Support Others:
Remind your family and help them get registered and vote as well. That cousin you know who is chronically disorganized? Help them get registered? Grandma doesn’t have a car anymore? Offer to take her to the polls with you. Will your spouse be away on travel during election day? Remind them to vote early or by absentee.
As a community, we are stronger when we support and encourage each other — and that counts for a lot at the ballot box!
You can also download the Vote With Me app, which will help you remind folks in your own contact list to vote!
There are tons of ways you can help campaigns and candidates by volunteering your time and it’s one of the best ways to make a major impact in races.
Some quick examples:
- Support campaign offices with snacks and water
- Staff a staging location or field office front desk to help people help the campaign
- Call voters from phone banks
- Go out and knock on some doors
- Recruit other volunteers to help and magnify your impact
If you’ve never done this before, it can be intimidating. But I’m here to tell you, there’s nothing more fun than making new friends and doing the good work of encouraging folks to vote for a candidate you support. Sitting at folding tables calling through lists of voters with a campaign cell phone and chatting with your friends is easy and effective. Using your minivan to drive around volunteers to canvass voters and remind them to vote is astoundingly fun and effective. Jumping in a rental car with total strangers and road-tripping to a swing state have been some of the best campaign memories of my time in politics!
Note: If you’re going to do this, you need to be sure your time is free over the weekend and day of the election — so exercise early voting if possible to free up the entire day or build in time for yourself to vote on Tuesday.
Connect with any of the candidates you support by signing up for their email lists and telling them you want to volunteer. Or if you’re really excited, go to one of their offices in-person and tell them to sign you up. They can put you to work right away for a little or as much time as you’d like to help.
Beyond that, the Democrats and the Obama coalition have formed a nationwide volunteer network you can sign up for that will use your address to help you get connected to both local candidates as well as tell you how you can help for candidates in other places too. Sign up for Team Blue if you don’t already have a good way to get plugged-in to volunteer.
Why Your Country and Your Community Need You Now
Those all good methods of how to get active on putting our country back on the right track. Now, here’s a few good reasons why we need your help and various great candidates I encourage you to consider supporting.
In Oklahoma, the state is experiencing record levels of debt, poor education funding, and healthcare issues under 8 years of Republican mismanagement.
Governor Fallin simply refused to expand Medicaid since 2011 and left millions of dollars on the table that the federal government already paid for to insure and help an estimated 80,000 low-income Oklahomans seek medical care. She’s also presided over unprecedented levels of education fall-out, teachers leaving the state for better pay, and abysmal classroom environments that led to widespread teacher protests and walk-outs last year.
Further, the citizens of the state overwhelmingly passed State Question 788 to adopt medical marijuana, but the state board of health and Republican leadership have resisted and restricted the implementation of the measure.
Drew Edmondson will tackle these items on Day 1 in office. He’s got a great track record as the former Attorney General for the state and will make a fine governor who can hopefully make course-correct both the state budget and education and healthcare sectors.
In District 2, Markwayne Mullin is in hot water because he vowed to only serve three terms as a member of the House of Representatives. He’s since broken that promise and is running again this year. He also has problems remembering who he works for if you recall his 2017 statement that it’s “bull crap” that Oklahomans pay his salary.
Jason Nichols, the mayor of Tahlequah on the other hand, is a breath of fresh air to represent South and Eastern Oklahoma in congress. He’s Cherokee, strong on tribal sovereignty, supports expanding Medicaid, and is for bi-partisan approaches to common sense gun control reforms such as universal background checks.
If you need more information about the candidates or state questions in Oklahoma, check out the Voter Information Guide published by the League of Women Voters.
Nationally -Republicans Proven Incapable of Governing
If you’ve been paying attention at all, then you know that the Republicans in congress have abdicated their duty to act as an independent branch of government and serve as a check and balance against the the Executive Branch. They also often forget who they work for and seem to cater to lobbyists and the 1% who fund their campaigns hand over fist. That can change as quickly as January if either or both of the houses of congress are turned over to opposition party control and returned to divided-government.
Since it’s easy to get lost in the new cycle and never ending heyday of our national reality-TV show, here are some reminders why we need to give nearly every Republican in congress their walking papers in November:
- Leader McConnell politically blackmailed President Obama and CIA Director Brennan once we had hard evidence that the Russians were attacking our election process and social media in late 2016. He chose politics and party over country and let a foreign nation-state walk all over our sovereign election process. This act alone disqualifies him from both elected office and any sort of leadership position in government
- The Republicans have tried over 70 times to repeal and eradicate the Affordable Care Act — without any serious plan to replace it. Their motivation would put insurance companies back in the driver’s seat of American heathcare (more than they already are) and start rolling back protections on pre-existing conditions and coverage for millions of America. A democratic congress might just be able to put together much needed improvements over and above the reforms the ACA brought
- Chairman Devin Nunes of the House Intelligence Committee conveniently wrapped-up the House investigation into Russian interference and ruled that there wasn’t anything to see there. This, despite the Senate reaching the opposite conclusion and it being very apparent to anyone studying this that it’s the most major digital attack on our country we’ve ever experienced. He too has chosen politics and falling in line behind Trump over actually protecting our country and our election process
- The Senate has failed to oversee or even realistically investigate unprecedented overreach and interference by the President at the Department of Justice and FBI, including the firing of Sally Yates, Jim Comey, and Andrew McCabe — despite Yates warning the White House that a sitting National Security Advisor was a blackmail risk and had lied to the Vice-President
- Chairman Chuck Grassley presided over a three-ring circus of the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh. Partisan from the beginning and despite all the GOP’s noise, this nomination obscured a staggering amount of official papers and background details on the nominee, which included his partisan roles in both the impeachment proceeding of President Clinton and his input to President Bush’s official torture memorandums — astonishingly relevant and critical information. And at multiple points, information was marked “Committee Confidential” (meaning the public shouldn’t see it) so many times that democrats ended up blatantly releasing it so the American public could see the information. Mishandling allegations of sexual misconduct, ignoring the nominee perjuring himself during the hearing, and refusing to call other named witnesses are just a few on the hallmarks of the way this man handled the committee and proven himself unworthy of the privilege in the next congress
- The GOP has no trouble accepting Russian money from the National Rifle Association to stymie gun control efforts
- Congress has taken no action regarding the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution or taken a hard look at the President, his finances, or how he influences or could be influenced by lobbyists and foreign heads of state due to his vast financial dealings — including in Russia. And with current reporting of years of tax fraud and abuse by his companies and family, it’s even more important to get to the bottom of these claims and ensure that we don’t have a corrupt citizen using the office of the presidency for personal gain
Now, that’s all mostly politics. On more substantive matters that actually affect people and our standing in the world, they haven’t fared any better:
- The GOP has taken no serious steps to secure our election systems from foreign interference, in fact they’ve regressed by removing the role of Cyber Security Coordinator
- The GOP has offered no improvements to the current state of healthcare
- The GOP has done nothing to combat the threat of gun violence in our schools — even in bipartisan, common sense ways such as allowing the CDC to simply study it
- The GOP sat idle while FEMA and the Administration fumbled the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, resulting in an estimated 3,000 deaths
- The GOP has done nothing to oversee or enforce the law in the deportation and immigration crisis the Trump administration has inflicted on the country, including unconstitutional travel bans targeting Muslims and separating hundreds of children from their families at the border
- The GOP allowed Trump to pull out of the Iran deal and arguably working against the gains that had been made to prevent them from obtaining nuclear weapons (meanwhile the rest of the participants remain committed to it)
- The GOP allowed Trump to pull out of the Paris Climate agreement (meanwhile the rest of the participants remain committed to it)
- The GOP, formerly touting fiscally conservative policies has exploded the federal deficit to reach around $1 TRILLION dollars by the end of the year
This leads me to key races and candidates I hope you’ll consider supporting to turn this trend around:
Texas Senate: Beto O’Rourke
Congressman O’Rourke from El Paso, is running against Ted Cruz, who is abysmal even by Texas standards. In his debate he performed essentially as a list evangelical talking points and offered no substance to do anything to unify the country nor support healthcare, education, or immigration reform. Beto on the other hand is engaging and appealing to a broad swatch of independently minded folks and out of all the senate candidates this cycle is the most refreshing I’ve seen since Barack Obama.
Arizona Senate: Kristin Sinema
Congresswoman Sinema of Tuscon is running for Jeff Flake’s seat since he decided to tag-out rather than continue prolonging the nation’s agony by being a rubber stamp for Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump.
Florida Senate: Bill Nelson
Senator Nelson is running against Rick Scott. These two have plenty of track record to go around if you want to compare policies. Bill has been reliably supportive of democratic policies while Rick Scott has done everything possible to overturn healthcare, discriminate against LGBTQ Americans, and while he signed basic reforms to combat gun violence, he remains an A+ rated member by the NRA despite both Pulse and Parkland massacres occurring in his state.
Tennessee Senate: Phil Bredeson
Former Governor Phil Bredeson is widely respected and a capable statewide officer with a proven track record. He’s up against Freedom Caucus diva Marsha Blackburn who does abysmal things like vote against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.
FL-18: Lauren Baer
Lauren is a former State Department colleague, spouse to a beautiful wife, a mother, and she also has an ailing mother who understands how deeply the Affordable Care Act impacts ordinary people’s lives. She’s running for congress to do a better job on healthcare and will be a strong advocate for LGBTQ equality in a state which suffered the worst attack ever on our community.
Harley Rouda is running against Dana Rohrbacher for the CA-48 seat. Dana needs to go because he’s pretty clearly compromised or even colluding with the Russians and has done his fair share to obscure just how bad the ongoing attack on our democracy has been.
Andrew Janz, former Deputy District Attorney for Fresno County is running against Devin Nunes. As you may have read above, Congressman Nunes has abdicated his constitutional duty by rubber-stamping Donald Trump’s agenda and working to mitigate, cover-up, and fail to follow-up on both Russia’s attack on our democracy as well as the President, his family’s, and his campaign’s involvement in those attacks.
Virginia State Senator Jennifer Wexton is challenging Barbara Comstock for the VA-10 seat. Comstock has been largely a party-line Republican, refusing to buck the trends of executive branch overreach. The VA-10 seat represents a very purple district of Virginia and will be much better served as a vote for accountability in the next congress under Congresswoman Wexton.
TX-31: MJ Hegar
Rather than bore you policy points about how MJ is awesome and quite a badass, she’s responsible for this video that speaks for itself:
And if those aren’t enough to get FIRED UP and READY TO GO for 2018, we have a whole list of Obama Alumni candidates running for office.
This team was one of the best I’ve ever worked with and if the former president has endorsed them, you can be sure they’ll make excellent public servants.
“All we need are decent, honest, hard-working people who are accountable and who have America’s best interests at heart. And they’ll step up and they’ll join our government, and they will make things better if they have support.” -Barack Obama
And that sums up our folks: people who believe government can be a force for good in the lives of average Americans. If you wish to donate directly to Obama Alumni candidates, you can do so via the 44Fund.
Washington, DC, Local:
In Washington, the City Council has defied the will of 55% of the majority of voters by overturning Initiative 77 to give tipped restaurant workers a living wage. Chairman Mendelson, Anita Bonds, and David Grosso should all be held accountable for catering to lobbyist and the restaurant association instead of the will of the people.
America’s Congress Should Reflect Her Citizenry
The final thought I’ll leave you with is this: our politics have long been dominated by a middle-aged, white, male voting block who protects their establishment ferociously (see: Brett Kavanaugh). It’s time for that to change. So in the absence of any difference over policy or party, I urge you to choose the challenger, the woman, the LGBTQ individual, the person of color, the veteran, the immigrant, the non-Christian, — the underrepresented candidate instead of the incumbent status quo.
Our congress is only 20% women though the country is 51% female. It’s also only 19% people of color and 1% LGBT versus being around 40% and 10% (estimated) of the country. And Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico aren’t even represented in Congress at all!
It’s time to start correcting these problems and moving ourselves toward a better and more well-represented government. Thank you for doing your part as a good citizen interested in good government and good people to represent you. We have a lot of work to do and it will be exhausting. But as the greatest president of my lifetime said once upon a time: Yes, We Can.
Finally, if your campaign, non-profit, or state or local government needs help with technology to amplify these messages, reach your constituents or voters, secure your infrastructure (especially your voting and email systems!), or streamline your digital portfolio, check out my company, 580 Strategies, and let us know how we can help you work toward better government that serves all Americans.