Help Wanted: There are many Wendys out there -- are you one?
Seeking courageous individuals to run for elected office. Looking to significantly expand our team of elected officials at all levels, from city councils to state legislative bodies, and beyond. Qualified candidates must be willing to take strong stances on issues of social, economic, reproductive, gender, and educational justice. Travel varies, and the position may require standing for long periods of time, or becoming the subject of memes. Equal Opportunity Employer.
In the wake of Wendy Davis' marathon filibuster in Texas this week, the internet overflowed with the undeniable inspiration that comes from watching history unfold. However, in the midst of facebook cheering and sharing virtual high-fives, a serious question is brewing: How can we encourage more people to say "I want to do that" -- or better yet, "I can do that" -- when they see what is possible through electing the right candidates? How can we increase awareness among potential candidates about the resources available to support their campaigns?
Many organizations exist for the sole purpose of increasing the number of candidates from traditionally underrepresented groups at the local, state, and national levels. For instance, Women's Leadership Works and Emily's List both cite the vast underrepresentation of women in public office across the country, and are devoted to training, financing, and electing women candidates.
The Victory Fund offers campaign organization, financing, and planning to openly LGBT candidates, and the Center for Progressive Leadership focuses on developing political "leaders from communities which have traditionally lacked access to political power, including women, people of color, and GLBT individuals."
Need more inspiration? Wendy Davis is not alone in confronting increasingly absurd legislative efforts aimed at maintaining the status quo and the will of dominant institutions:
- Senator Elizabeth Warren continues calling out the power imbalances between corporations and the people, last week demanding that students receive the same interest rates on loans as banks.
- U.S. Representative Maxine Waters spoke out against the Supreme Court's troubling decision to strike provisions of the Voting Rights Act this week, and is also leading the charge to investigate Bank of America foreclosure strategies in the wake of new evidence suggesting the bank may have intentionally slowed the process of borrowers joining the Home Affordable Modification Program.
- With her first speech on the Senate Floor, Tammy Baldwin's call for focusing on wealth and poverty issues resonated with voters across the country as thousands added their names to the "I Stand With Tammy Baldwin" petition.
- Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono recently blasted the points-based system in the Senate's proposed immigration bill which disadvantages women by institutionalizing the unequal opportunities for education and work in many immigrants' home countries.
We live in a time when more people than ever before are able to look to their local city governments, state legislatures, or Congress and see elected officials who look like them, support their unique interest or values, or even share the same stories and backgrounds. But that doesn't mean the work is done; now more than ever we need to continue diversifying the pool of candidates based on gender, race, class, ethnicity, age, ability, and beyond.
Running for public office isn't for everyone. Many community leaders are far more effective working through non-profits, participating in grassroots campaigns, and using activist strategies. However, we all know someone whose ideas or leadership could benefit the public and the future or our respective cities, states, or country. What can you do today to spark their career in public office? Try sharing this link with them -- and let me know what happens.