I am slowly recovering from Roger’s wrenching loss on Sunday. In all seriousness, I was just crushed. What an incredible match, a fact that in some ways made the tiebreaks that much harder to swallow. Amidst all the ugly news of late (the past couple years), R’s being in the finals was such pure joy, and I so wanted to see him hold that trophy aloft for the ninth time. Alas.
Last night, I had the profound fortune and pleasure of attending a rally sponsored by my House rep, Jamie Raskin (he is awesome), and co-hosted by none other than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. AOC! It was in support of Rep Raskin’s organization, Democracy Summer, which he started a decade ago, and the importance and spirit of political organizing. I love that there’s an historic educational component too- political science, change, and so forth.
The event was held at a local civic building and was to start at 7, so I got in line at 6 and was about 50 deep. The crowd was wonderfully diverse: young, old, in the middle, straight, gay, black, white, Latinx, immigrant, American born. Our energy and anticipation were palpable despite the pro-life protesters moving ever closer with their six-foot tall graphic signs and false claims that women who chose to have an abortion are likely to end up drug addicted and/or suicidal. Most of us simply ignored them and talked with one another instead. One man tried mightily to have a real discussion; his irritated wife kept dragging him up in line and encouraging him to stop because he was making zero headway.
When the doors opened, people scurried in to get spots as near the stage as possible. Finally, at 7:30, Jamie and AOC emerged, and the crowd of 700+ went nuts. I am an enormous fan of Jamie’s intellect, passion for representing and supporting his constituents, and belief in what good politics can do. Same for AOC, and her magnetism is undeniable, y’all. She is smart, engaging, gorgeous, and absolutely what politics needs more of.
Also in attendance were Bob Moses, THE Bob Moses of SNCC and Civil Rights activism renown, he who helped pull back the Cotton Curtain of racial apartheid in American, who coined the phrase “one person, one vote,” and Danny Glover who I think is Bob’s friend and supporter. Bob is a legend, and as a complete aside, both men have the dearest of faces. Seeing them was like getting two hugs.
Jamie gave a wonderful opening speech about his family history of political involvement and activism and then introduced AOC not only as a colleague but also as his vice chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
AOC gave a thoughtful, rousing address about where we are as a country right now. It is her belief that we are picking up where the Civil Rights movement left off. “America has always been the story of the efforts of some to advance the rights of others while others work to advance the rights of a few.” It is the duality, the many-the few, that essentially defines us and our history.
In referencing the last book Dr. King wrote before his assassination, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, she said that the only way to move from chaos (our present) to community (hopefully our future) is to move forward via organization. If there is no struggle, there is no progress. This is hope kinetic. “We are characters in America’s story- who do you want to be? What side do you want to be on, now and when history looks back?”
I urge all of you to ask yourselves those questions. It is my dearest hope that most of us are decent people who don’t hate different others as vehemently as it seems. Who won’t throw our pluralism and democratic promise under the bus because you really can’t accept who others love, what color they are, what choices they make when it concerns their OWN bodies and not yours. Does it really matter who a person in another state is sleeping with? Why must you demand that everyone live within the singular, small worldview that you prefer? Isn’t the pursuit of happiness a virtue that our founding fathers enshrined? Are not most of us immigrants to these shores? People who came in search of better?
For the first time in a while last night, I felt hope. Not from the hateful things being said to those of us waiting patiently in line by those who’d come to evangelize and demean. But from the efforts of a man whose family has fought the good fight for generations and from a member of The Squad whose mother cleaned houses and whose father died at just 48 and who worked 18 hours a day organizing and bartending to help keep the family home and STILL wore through her shoes canvassing in the Bronx. Who did what everyone said she couldn’t and wouldn’t. Who once here has been celebrated, yes. But also treated with such racist, bigoted disdain and cruelty yet who still rises with hope and determination every day.
Those two represent our future. Those in favor of LGBTQ rights and Black Lives Matter and Choice and ending Citizens United. That is our future.
What character do you play in our nation’s story?