El Paso Massacre and the Leaders We Need and Deserve

In the wake of deadly semi-automatic mass shootings last week in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, we have a choice once again, individually and as a nation, to respond with compassion, strategy and courage, or with fear, denial and cowardice.

As the week progressed, I saw plenty of swirl among pundits and politicians and wondered how we can rise above this, and who can lead us to real solutions. Then, yesterday, that leader emerged.

In a swift and strategic response to these tragic events, Elizabeth Warren has released a sweeping plan to reduce gun deaths by 80% in our nation. Her plan acknowledges this as a public health crisis and reminds us that we have past success we can build upon, such as increasing road safety.

I am curious to see how the next week of news cycle will unfold. Will we start reporting on real plans and have real dialogue? Or will there be more verbal sleight of hand, particularly by conservative pundits who have been going out of their way to manufacture a connection, or oddly explain that there is not a connection, between democrats and the Dayton shooter?  They are doing this out of fear and denial to deflect blame, because of the clear connection between Trump’s rhetoric and policies to the El Paso killer.

This summer I had the pleasure of hearing Warren speak in Chicago. She impressed me with her clarity of vision, commitment to structural/real change, and her contagious energy. I was even moved to tears a few times by dawning appreciation that she is a regular person who was drawn to politics late in her life for all of the right reasons, to fight for us and our futures. I was sitting with someone who knows Warren personally, so I asked her what she thought about her. She said, “I have seen her socially through the years, at small dinner parties and big social gatherings, and I will tell you this, Elizabeth Warren is always the smartest person in the room.” This struck me forcibly because the woman I was talking to is incredibly smart herself.

Since seeing Warren in Chicago, I have been observing Warren’s performance in the debates, rising poll numbers, and commentary on her “monster” ground game in swing states like Nevada. But at this moment, what impresses me most is her positive and strategic leadership in response to the shootings. She is offering a solid path to solving real problems. Isn’t that what we want and deserve from our leaders? And if we want to solve hard problems, don’t we want to be led by the smartest person in the room?

Tidbits and follow-ups:

Inspiration is all around us. Act now state by state!

Pumpkin-Senior-Voter

This weekend men and women “Marched to the Polls” to raise awareness for the fast approaching  mid-term elections, November 6.

Even at a local fundraiser for a nonprofit arts association, I was inspired to see a high school senior who integrated a “Vote” message into her dance routine on stage. (See picture above)

In many states it is not too late to register to vote or to request absentee ballots. Check out this terrific article summarizing voting timetables by state.

This is it! Call your friends and family over the next week to encourage them to make sure they have not been purged from the voting rolls, that they are registered, know their polling place, and vote early if possible.

Do you need more inspiration to make change? Check out this brilliant song by Lynzy Lab lifted up by Jimmy Kimmel after it got traction online. Leaders need to recognize the needs and issues of all Americans. Raise your voice on November 6!

Vote.org – register to vote, check your registration
Ballotready.org – check out candidates up and down your ballot

I already protested that guy! Voting can stop the merry-go-round

Until the presidential election in 2016, I was not involved in activism. Even now I would not call myself an activist, because my efforts are inadequate and inconsistent as I try to balance with other life obligations.

But there was a moment in college when I was moved toward activism, if only for a moment…

In the 1980s, back when rape was called “date-rape” in college settings, my privileged university was happy to look the other way. Fraternity houses were given a mere slap on the wrist, a letter of condemnation, when it occurred in their houses. And it was occurring with disturbing frequency.

I participated with fellow students, primarily women, in a series of demonstrations  themed, “Take Back the Night.” These were night vigils during which we walked with candles and signs in support of the young women on campus who were victimized. We were only slightly successful at the time, moderately impacting the administration’s stance.

One experience at a frat party helped me relate. My girlfriend’s guy friend and his pals  invited us to look at a loft they constructed in their rooms. We kindly, and perhaps naively,  followed them through the halls to see the loft. From the doorway I said that it looked cool and one of them suggested I sit down to try the couch underneath. I crossed the room to the loft and as soon as I sat down was surprised to find he had closely followed my footsteps and plopped himself directly beside me while his friend closed the door while ushering my girlfriend farther down the hall. He lunged toward me and draped his arms around me. Luckily I had not been drinking and had swifter reflexes than him, so I was able to slide low to escape his circling embrace and get up and out of the room before he got off the couch. It was ridiculous. I had only just met him 15 minutes earlier.

So of course when I heard the allegations by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford I believed her, understanding how quickly these things can happen. And after watching her credible testimony and Brett Kavanaugh’s incredible tirade, it was clear to me how true her allegations were.

It also occurred to me that I already protested this guy. Kavanaugh was a senior in college while I was a freshman, so we were contemporaries though at different schools. Essentially, he was the partying privileged frat boy I was raising awareness about, pleading to the administration for real consequences for these young men’s actions. (I’m tired and don’t have time to protest things that should have been addressed years ago. Get me off this merry-go-round!)

But it doesn’t matter to Republicans. If it did, they would not have elected Trump, a self-admitted molester of women. Nor, if women and decency mattered to them, would they have shoved through Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing without a full investigation and despite his ludicrous behavior. Abuse against women is a mere side effect of being drunk with power, and they need power to advance their agenda, right? My Republican friends think they are adhering to core values, because they feel the end justifies the means. The problem is that there is no end. There is simply a continuing downward slide of morals and debasing departures from laws and norms that protect us and our democracy.

In my many years of voting, I have voted both Republican and Democratic in general elections depending on the character and service record of the candidates. I eagerly tune into the national conventions of both major parties, hopeful to be inspired and see the best of humanity emerge. On the national stage in recent years Republicans (not just Trump) have continued to disappoint and now seriously alarm me. What they tolerate  in pursuit of power is indeed, dare I say it, deplorable. I hope for party reform out of both parties, but right now mostly I hope we have checks on power.

The days of staying open-minded to both parties are over for the time being. We cannot equivocate and pretend there is parity between the parties. For this election, we need to understand that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. We simply cannot have all three arms of federal government, and 30+ state houses ruled by Republican majority. It is rotting our country’s moral core to be so out of balance. So for this election, voting Democratic is the patriotic thing to do to reset the dial and recover some checks and balances.

If you are Republican, relax, this does not mean that everything will turn Democratic overnight. Of the 14 heavily gerrymandered states, 12 states are gerrymandered in favor of Republicans, while only 2 of them are gerrymandered in favor of Democrats. Despite talk of a blue wave, it will be extremely difficult for Democrats to win in most places despite a hefty voter turnout. Democrats need to hope for a landslide of voter turnout in order to squeak a win.

But you can make a difference in making a small but important shift toward a balance in the force.

Vote. Encourage and empower at least two other people to vote. Do you have a friend who has moved and needs to request an absentee ballot? They need to act now, possibly by today or tomorrow, in order to request an absentee ballot, depending on locality. Call your friends today and remind them to register, request ballots, and vote!!! Also double-check your registration to make sure you have not been purged from the voter rolls.

Go to Vote.org. Also check out BallotReady.org to learn more about all candidates on your local ballots.

Robo calls are Real Genius. But let’s vote for real people and a real deal

Biss-Wallace

Quick Reminders:  Vote March 20 in Illinois Primary. Go to the nonpartisan BallotReady.org to learn about candidates up and down the ballot and find your polling place. Write-in candidate Cameron “Cam” Davis for vacancy in the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Cook County who needs 8,075  write-in votes. Highly recommended by knowledge good people, so spread the word! Also, please consider Daniel Biss for Governor; high integrity, real lawmaking experience, clear vision for Illinois turnaround!

….Today, as I made calls to get out the vote for Daniel Biss, I was ready to have a real conversation with folks (and I had some), but mostly they were not answering their phones. People are busy, out and about, on Saturdays.  I left messages, which became fairly routine, and after a while I realized that a robocall would have saved my time. But those calls are expensive and less responsive to questions (though I have received auto-dials in the past that allow you to press 1 to reach a real person and ask questions, which is a nice compromise).

My favorite auto-response was Verizon ring time service which played cool music while I waited for the person to pick up his phone. We could really get this robo world figured out to our advantage. Remember Real Genius where the students audio taped the professor and eventually the professor had an audio tape giving the lecture? Hmmm. But we cannot lose our personal touch either.

I support Daniel Biss because he knows public policy IS personal.  And though I felt akin to the newspaper boys pulling wagons in Mr Smith Goes to Washington, being drowned out by big press beholden to the state’s power-brokers, I hope that the personal touch and tiny exchanges will add up to make a difference. After all, every vote counts, especially yours! Go make your voice heard and maybe somebody will listen to you!

 

Wow! Daniel Biss for Governor!

Daniel Biss just keeps growing, and so does his support base. He has a real chance of winning the Democratic primary and if he does, polls show he will beat Bruce Rauner. See the latest  gubernatorial debate on March 2, 2018.

Tonight Daniel Biss addressed questions from a crowded house full of people asking him about how to solve Illinois’ financial and economic woes, creating efficiencies in government, supporting teacher’s pensions, fixing our judicial system, prison reform, redistricting, and even how he intends to work with legislative heavy weight Mike Madigan. The depth and thoughtfulness of Daniel’s answers were fantastic and forthright.

Daniel is leading us into “what is possible”, not settling for what is business as usual in Illinois politics. The lasting impressions were that he is a leader who knows how government works. He listens and he learns. Not only has he contributed to many advancements already, he also admits to mistakes and grows because of them.

His leading democratic opponent seems to have peaked in support despite spending over $60 million in personal funding and blanketing the airwaves and stuffing mailboxes with ads. Meanwhile Biss keeps attracting more endorsements and followers.

This guy is for real. I saw him speak in a home setting almost a year ago, impressive then, but unstoppable now. He not only articulates a clear vision for solving our problems– by restructuring our tax base, school funding, and fiscal accountability–he also has the gall to suggest that we need to be a part of the solution, and I found myself leaning in!

This is the moment,  in this primary, that we get the candidates we deserve. We can simply elect someone better than Bruce Rauner, a low bar, or we can elect Daniel Biss, a leader who knows how to use the levers of government to restore our competitive edge, our integrity, and our faith in self-government.

Please join me in supporting Daniel Biss. Donate, Volunteer, Vote.

 

 

Time is marching along, and so should we…SAVE THE DATES

Do you feel like 2018 is moving fast? Let’s Mark Our Calendars for cool and important dates…

February 28PeristList.org has a bunch of events scheduled tomorrow in Illinois/Chicago. The Attorney General forum is tempting.

March 1 – Eleven Minutes of Silence for eleven million undocumented immigrants. As noted in a prior blog, I want to be in the kind of nation that people yearn to live in. Many cities, including Chicago, are hosting an event this day. Wear black. See details here.

Now in theaters: Black Panther. This (almost) all-black cast delivers stunning performances in this Marvel action movie that mixes moral dilemmas with hints of rebellious humor. This is a game changer, a cultural event. People came out in droves and waited in long lines (even after pre-purchasing their tickets), in order to get good seats. I plan to see it again. P.S. Alex Jones is wrong about parallels to Trumpism, he apparently did not stay for the end-credit scenes or capture the essence of a false and unworthy leader.

March 4 – Meet Daniel Biss, Illinois Gubernatorial candidate this Sunday in Oak Park.  Let me know if you are interested and I will send you the formal invite ($100 per guest, this is a fundraiser). He is our Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; high integrity and for the people. My husband loves this one-minute clip, Biss’s take on the Opioid crisis.

March 4 – Voter Registration deadline online in IllinoisLast day for voters to register to vote through the State Board of Elections website. Ask your friends, neighbors, mail carrier and sales clerks if they are registered to vote! Need help registering?

March 5 – Early Voting in Cook County, IL begins (ends March 19). Check out this nonpartisan resource BallotReady.org to read about every single candidate on the ballot! The CEO of this organization is committed to expanding this site across the country. If your location is not included yet, it will be eventually.

March 8 – International Women’s Day. Last year I invited a group of friends to join me for a tour at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum in Chicago. It felt great honoring a woman of such import and positive impact. This year I suggest we play a game of “count the female statues in your town”…send your results to my comment box! Anyone with over 3 gets special mention. Also see Facts You Should Know about the state of women around the world.

March 20 – Primary Election Day in Illinois. Check out your state and county for details. Explore this cool new resource, BallotReady.org  which will help you find voting locations as well as information about all candidates on the ballot.

March 24 – March for our Lives – Support the youth-inspired movement for sensible gun laws that was born out of reaction to the Parkland, FL school shooting. In Chicago this starts at 11 am, location TBD. Marches are scheduled all over the United States, so search for your city. The primary march is in DC.

April 14 – March for Science – Our family enjoyed this march last year, clever signs, friendly people.

April 22 – Earth Day: End Plastic Pollution. Likely there will be local marches and activities. Stay tuned.

Pick one or many events from this list and let’s have fun as active citizens this month and beyond!

Women’s March Chicago: Big, Beautiful Historic, Sober, Determined

womensmarchchicago-vote-triumphant (2)

How was the Women’s March today? Depends on who you ask.

“Big!” Says my sixteen year old son. “Lots and lots of people.” Considering he is over six feet tall I suppose he had a good view of the crowd and the pink hats. He also was not at the Women’s March last year and so his biggest march was Earth Day with roughly 45,000 people. Today’s crowd was more like 300,000.

“Beautiful!” said the police commander when my friend asked him how it went. Peaceful and pleasant almost to a fault. Right before the march an organizer said, “Remember to be respectful of each other and public property.” And we were.

“Historic”, said our friend who also was impressed that it marks the anniversary of the birth of a Movement.

“Sober and mature” I thought, compared to last year’s marches which swelled beyond expectations. Last year in D.C. everything felt electric as people rushed with outrage and urgency to defend Americans and the nation’s ideals.  Now both their heads and their hearts are in the game. People know better how to proceed, how to pace themselves, how to win the long game to restore this country.

I saw ‘Dan Biss for Governor” signs. Meanwhile, JB Pritzker wound his way through the crowd near us , accessible to folks for chat and pics. Lisa Madigan gave one of the most inspiring and focused speeches. Basically she said,  “1. You can do anything (you already do, like build businesses, teach, volunteer), 2. You are powerful, 3. We are more powerful together. 4. Get out there to vote and run for office.” Powerful message we can think on, and act on!

My recommended 2018 To Do list:

  1. Register to vote
  2. Ask everyone you know to register to vote–friends, neighbors, sales clerks, the mailman, (I remind telemarketers who call my home)
  3. Stay alert for rallies, marches and other organized activity in your area. See PersistList.org for happenings in Chicago and/or sign up for your favorite causes who will send you alerts.
  4. Stay informed about candidates as we approach elections. Go to ballotready.org for information about candidates up and down the ballot, and triangulate news sources for good information.
  5. Let’s all get in formation and march to the polls for 2018!