Gretchen's List: December 2021
Thinking back to a year ago, it really seemed like we had accomplished something important and enduring for our country. We had elected Joe Biden as President-elect; we had held the House; we had won 48 seats in the Senate and were laser-focused on winning two more in Georgia. We had both a sense of accomplishment, and tangible, immediate work to do to get the job done. That our victories had been narrow, that the still-President hadn’t conceded, that conspiracy theories of a stolen election were gaining traction instead of losing speed — surely, these felt minor in comparison to what we had gained.
But then there was the insurrection of January 6th, the re-entrenchment of the Republican Party with Donald Trump, and the systematic eroding of voting rights and election integrity across this country. As startling as the insurrection was, it increasingly seems like it was merely a dress rehearsal. I do not say this to be hyperbolic: I believe our country’s democracy is in greater peril than it has ever been since 1865. I am not alone in this belief.
Oh, and Roe v. Wade is going to be overturned, which is something I’ve assumed would happen for so long that I barely registered how alarming it truly is. In “We’re Edging Closer to Civil War,” Charles Blow details how abortion rights are directly tied to the greater crisis for our country:
I see too many uneasy parallels between what was happening nearly 200 years ago and what is happening now. I see this country on the verge of another civil war, as the Calhounian impulse is reborn. […]
In some ways, the abortion battle now being waged in the courts is a test case. Can the states make an argument that a civil right can be reversed on the state level? Can they make the case that all that the Constitution has not explicitly spelled out should be reserved for the states? […]
We should worry about whether or not we are at an inflection point for an age of regression.
I have seen, over the past year, many people who have needed to step back from political engagement. But I do hope that as 2022 approaches, you find a way to re-engage. We need everyone.
And if you need someone to text when you can’t sleep at night, well, I’ll probably be up, too.
I am sending my best wishes for a very happy holiday to those celebrating, and a happier and more just year ahead for all of us.
P.S. For those interested in what I do in my “real job,” Justice Amy Coney Barrett gave me plenty of opportunities to share it with the world earlier this month in The Washington Post, on NPR’s All Things Considered, and in New York Magazine.
Where to Give Now: State Governance
The best way to ensure that we have secure elections in 2024 is to elect the state leaders we need to oversee those elections in 2022. This is our best chance to save our democracy. This is not an exaggeration.
We currently have the governorships in the key swing states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin, and we could gain them in Arizona and Georgia. We also need to elect strong Secretaries of State to oversee secure elections and Attorneys General to act in the legal interests of the citizens of their state. Compared to federal races like those for U.S. House and Senate, these state governance campaigns (particularly for non-gubernatorial races) are often quite difficult to fundraise for, and they have a tremendous impact.
I believe the races listed below represent the most critical campaigns for control of state governments in 2022. You can invest in any and all of them on this slate. This list includes the candidate, their office, state, incumbency, race rating (if available), and campaign giving limit. On the ActBlue page, you can click “customize amounts” to tailor the amount you would like to contribute to specific campaigns.
Steve Sisolak (NV, Incumbent, Toss-Up, $5000)
Tony Evers (WI, Incumbent, Toss-Up, $20,000)
Gretchen Whitmer (MI, Incumbent, Leans D, $7150)
Josh Shapiro (PA, Open, Toss-Up, unlimited)
Katie Hobbs (AZ, Open, Toss-Up, $5300)
Stacey Abrams (GA, Challenger, Toss-Up, $7600)
Secretaries of State
Jocelyn Benson (MI, Incumbent, $7150)
Bee Nguyen (GA, Challenger — Competitive Primary, $7600)
Additions likely forthcoming; currently watching primaries in Nevada and Arizona and incumbents in Colorado and New Mexico.
Dana Nessel (MI, Incumbent, $7150)
Josh Kaul (WI, Incumbent, $20,000)
Aaron Ford (NV, Incumbent, $5000)
Additions likely forthcoming; currently watching Arizona, Colorado, and Minnesota.
Please consider investing in these races early, and please let me know if you have any questions. (And yes, you know that if I am including a bunch of white men on my funding slate, I truly must be concerned about the state of our country on a very deep level.)
Protecting Abortion Rights and Access
Because of my work, I get a lot of questions about where to give in response to the likely outcome of the upcoming Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. In case you haven’t heard: yes, it seems that Roe v. Wade is unlikely to be the law of the land much longer.
I gave some recommendations in my September list after Texas’s SB8 law went into effect that I continue to think are important, and I also worked with the San Francisco Foundation to curate this list of organizations that I think are very valuable. (And, to give credit, the SFF list was very informed by my own conversations with my wonderful collaborators at the Women Donors Network.)
But still: I get a lot of questions about this. I would be happy to do an informal Zoom call discussing where I give, why, and how I think others should spend their money in this space sometime in late December (after Christmas, before end-of-year giving deadlines), if folks are interested. If you’re interested in joining that conversation, please sign up here and I’ll let you know when I figure out a date and time.
December 15th, 5pm PT. Please join me (and possibly one of the best host committees… ever?) to support Malia Cohen for California Controller. At this even, you can both meet Malia and learn what a state controller is and why you want Malia to be one! But truly: Malia is a fantastic candidate. She currently serves on the Board of Equalization, the state agency responsible for managing California's $75 billion property tax system that funds our public schools. Prior to that, she was on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, overseeing the $10 billion city budget. We need to keep Malia and her sharp financial leadership in statewide office. She is a bold, dedicated, principled leader and visionary. RSVP and contribute here to join us tomorrow evening.
Donor, sociologist, researcher. Board member at WDN Action and Emerge America, and steering committee member at Electing Women Bay Area -- but all content here is mine alone and not on behalf of any organization or business. My goals are to help others find their networks and feel more comfortable and informed participating in the political giving space.
Currently reading: The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee.