Gretchen's List: June 2022
After the shooting in Uvalde, I thought about my 8-year-old son, and wrote this:
If Arthur never came home from school one day, he would leave behind a partially-finished LEGO set. Would his father finish it? Or would I put a fence of hazard tape around it, so that no one would ever touch it, so that its incompleteness would be in front of me every day?
He would never finish his current book. Would I just put it on his bookshelf, crammed between the series he did finish? Would I put it in our little free library so I’d never have to look at it, so that another child could read it, and hope that they get to the end?
Would his brother move to the lower bunk in their bed? Would he just talk to their sister instead, when they’re falling asleep? Who would be there to say “Yes, I remember,” when he asks “Remember when?”
The presents I have hidden away for him, for his next birthday: would I donate them? I would probably be ok passing on his clothes, but I would keep his racing suit and his Junior Ranger vest and his Hogwarts robes, because they are special, and because he would never outgrow them.
The family travel map that we have, where we put gold pins for places all five of us have been: every future destination would just be a silver pin, forever, I guess. There would be no five. We would never be complete. None of us would have a hope of being complete ever again.
Sandy Hook happened the week I found out I was pregnant with Arthur and I could make sure he was safe and untouchable, and now he is 8.5 years old and in the United States he will never be fully safe from gun violence because no one is.
And the children yesterday who will never come home? They aren’t any different than him.
Americans cannot continue thinking that the problems we are facing belong to someone else: another family, another state, another generation. They are ours, and we must feel them and own them as such. An acute formula shortage. A raging opioid epidemic. An enduring global pandemic. A melting planet. The highest rates of incarceration, childhood hunger, gun violence, and inequity among all wealthy countries in this world.
Last year, we cut child poverty in half. And then Republicans let the child tax credit expire.
Thirty years ago, we passed a federal assault weapons ban. Twenty years ago, the ban expired under Republican leadership. Today, firearm-related injuries are the leading cause of death of American children and adolescents.
Fifty years ago, our Supreme Court decided that American women had the right to access abortion care. A month from now, a Supreme Court stolen by decades of shameless Republican leadership will ensure this is no longer the law of the land.
Voting won’t fix this until we have leaders that will rise to the moment. We voted before, and we won, and it’s frankly unfair that every election is a referendum on whether we should continue to exist as a democratic nation. But Republican leaders have shown, repeatedly, that we have no option but to continue working for their defeat — the costs of their recklessness, fecklessness, shamelessness, nihilism, lack of empathy, and lack of regard for our democracy make it impossible to do anything else. But we must also work to cultivate leaders that are worthy of this moment.
The only way I find hope in politics right now is to focus on long-term development: training women of the new American majority to run for office at Emerge; shaping a new generation of leaders through The Next 50; tapping into a deep-seated urgency for advocates and donor via Climate Changemakers. Thinking one cycle at a time will be too infuriating, too depressing to endure — especially now.
P.S. I was going to do a big write-up on state legislatures, and I will… next month. (May has gotten away from me!) But for those very interested in winning state legislatures, please join me tomorrow in San Francisco for an event on flipping the Michigan Senate with Senator Mallory McMorrow, a “role model for the midterms.” (details below).
Where to Give Now: Giffords
Gun safety is not my expertise, but many have asked me where to send money this week. I strongly recommend Giffords, founded by former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords of Arizona. This includes three entities:
Giffords Law Center, a 501(c)3 organization that does research on gun policy and writes and defends laws;
Giffords, a 501(c)4 political advocacy organization that holds elected leaders accountable;
Giffords PAC, campaign giving that works to directly elect gun sense candidates.
These types of layered giving are mutually effective and reinforcing. Because of the legal structure of these organizations, I cannot give you one link for all three! But I can give you two links: give to Giffords Law Center here (these donations are tax deductible), and give to Giffords & Giffords PAC here (donations to this form are not tax deductible). If you have to choose one and do not care about tax deductibility, give to Giffords and Giffords PAC.
Tuesday, May 31, 5:30pm PT. If electing leaders that are worthy of this moment is an aim that you share, please join me tomorrow, May 31st in San Francisco for an event with Michigan State Senator Mallory McMorrow and State Representative Darrin Camilleri. New maps mean that the Michigan Senate is very much flippable, and Mallory and Darrin are working hard to raise the money to make that happen. Please RSVP and contribute here. If you have missed Mallory in action, check her out here:
Thursday, June 2, 4pm PT. Please join me for a reception with Deidre DeJear, candidate for Governor of Iowa, where we will be joined by special guest Congresswoman Barbara Lee. Yes, Iowa is an uphill climb, but Deidre is running a smart campaign, and I believe it’s always worth investing in qualified Black women. Please RSVP and contribute here to join us and learn more about her campaign.
Sunday, June 5, 12pm. Join me for lunch with Sarah Morgenthau, candidate for the open Congressional seat in Rhode Island. An alumna of the Peace Corps and the Department of Homeland Security, Sarah’s life has been shaped by service. I’m excited to help her get out of these competitive primary and on her way to Washington. RSVP here.
Sunday, June 5, 6pm. Yes, don’t worry, I have you covered for both lunch and dinner next Sunday. In the evening, please join me for dinner with Vermont Lt. Governor Molly Gray, candidate for U.S. Congress. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Molly: she’s down-to-earth, service-driven, and has worked from both Senator Patrick Leahy and Congressman Peter Welch, giving her a comprehensive sense of how to represent Vermonters in Washington. She’s also on the only primary candidate to have won statewide. In DC, her key issue will be championing caregiving and paid family leave. I’m excited to help move forward the next generation of representation for Vermont, and I think Molly’s it. I hope you’ll join me: please RSVP here.
Tuesday, June 7, 5pm PT/8pm ET. This one is really exciting! And it’s virtual, you can join regardless of location. The Electing Women Alliance is hosting a joint event for all five incumbent women governors who are up for re-election: Governor Kathy Hochul of New York, Governor Laura Kelly of Kansas, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, Governor Janet Mills of Maine, and Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan. Of these races, four of these governors are quite vulnerable. This event gives to the opportunity to hear from (and support) them all at once, and learn about what’s happening in their states and their races. And, it should be a small enough gathering for a real conversation. I really hope you can join; please RSVP and contribute here.
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 South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation by Imani Perry; currently watching If Anything Happens, I Love You, a 12-minute short film on Netflix, with thanks to Emma for sharing.