Gretchen's List: May 2021

Dear Friends,

After taking April off, I’m back! I hope that you all are doing well and on your way to being vaccinated. Last night I told my husband that European travel would be reopening for vaccinated Americans soon, and he pointed out that our children were unvaccinated and wouldn’t be able to go, and I said: exactly.

While we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel in most of the United States, it’s been hard to see the pandemic surging to its highest peak globally. I am heartened by President Biden’s decision to send vaccines and additional support to India, and only wish it had come sooner. I have been impressed by the work of Justice Is Global to consider worldwide solutions not just to the pandemic, but to rising authoritarianism, climate disasters, and other existential challenges that will require global cooperation. The global inequities in vaccine distribution are a reflection of the ways in which U.S. foreign policy contributes to other (racialized, gendered) systems of inequity; American progressives (including myself) need to start considering more intentionally what just foreign policy will look like. I thought this roadmap from the Justice Is Global campaign was a good start — I hope it’s helpful to you, too.

Delving into these issues merely reiterates the necessity of governing towards our highest values while we hold our fragile majorities — and doing everything possible to maintain those majorities in 2022. There is simply too much at stake and too much work to be done.

I admit that the idea that we need to just keep winning, constantly, at every level, in defiance of historical precedent, is both overwhelming and exhausting. When I consider all the work that went into defeating Trump… let’s just say that I have been channeling Mr. Incredible a lot.

I don’t really have any words of wisdom to counteract that feeling. I just wanted to acknowledge that we’re all feeling it. It’s ok if you’re not ready to talk about the 2022 Senate races. But you should probably get ready… soon.

Take care,

Where to Give Now: D.C. Statehood

The past few months I’ve been sharing what I think are three core ideas to preserving our democracy while we have the opportunity: fair districting, court expansion, and now D.C. statehood.

I am recommending that people interested in advancing statehood fund DC Votes.

While statehood has always been and just and necessary change, in the past year it has shifted from a fringe pipe dream to a mainstream, feasible goal. Last week, the U.S. House passed a bill for statehood, setting this up for wider-spread national debate. The bill would effectively shrink the size of the federal district to primarily non-residential areas surrounding the White House, Capitol, and National Mall.

The bottom line is that Washington, D.C. has more people than Vermont and Wyoming, and about as many people as Alaska. Giving citizens of Washington, D.C. a voting voice in Congress and the Senate is the right thing to do: not only do all Americans deserve representation, but, given the population of D.C., the lack of representation disproportionately disenfranchises Black Americans. 86% of D.C. residents want statehood, and a plurality of Americans agree. It’s time.

February Question: Can we actually win during the midterms?

Lots of people are asking this, and not many people are feeling especially hopeful — but I am dubiously optimistic. It’s true that, in the last century, the President’s party has only gained seats doing two midterm elections: 1934 and 2002. But those years are important; in both examples, voters viewed the President as capably leading the country through a real crisis (they were right in 1934, and not in 2002, for what it’s worth). Looking at the historical context for these elections makes me feel more hopeful.

To answer this question, though, it’s important to look at the House and the Senate in separate detail. This month I’ll look at the Senate.

First: wow, there are so many people running for Senate. Are you running for Senate? Probably, everyone is.

Our best chances to flip seats remain Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and North Carolina. As of today, there are women in all three primaries. (Ohio, Florida, and maybe Iowa could also be competitive, at least theoretically. Until their fields of candidates become clearer, they remain second tier opportunities.) Most Democratic Senators are pretty safe, although Raphael Warnock (GA) will be vulnerable, and Mark Kelly (AZ), Maggie Hassan (NH), and Catherine Cortez Masto (NV) all could be, once we get a clearer sense of who their challengers will be. The bottom line is that I think we can hold the Senate, but we have no room for error.

Are you ready to start funding Senate candidates? As I said above, it’s ok if you’re not. But everyone got excited about funding Senate candidates on September 18, 2020, which is just a bit too late for campaigns to necessarily use it effectively, and far too late to have a say in who the nominee will be. If you want to make sure we send a Black woman to the U.S. Senate in 2022, Cheri Beasley needs your money now. If you want to get Pennsylvanians used to voting for women in Washington, Val Arkoosh could use your support. If you want to convince Senator Ron Johnson that he should really retire, Sarah Godlewski needs a strong quarter. And, if you believe supporting incumbents is easier that flipping seats, 1) you are correct, and 2) Catherine Cortez Masto and Maggie Hassan need early money to fend off serious challengers. Here’s a slate. You don’t have to give big now — just maybe start considering who you want in the Senate in January 2023, and what you’d like to do to help them get there. (Reminder that all these non-incumbents are in competitive primaries, but my fundraising focuses on electing women.)

May Virtual Events

May 4th, 1pm PT: Come to the upcoming Emerge Leadership salon, “Combating the Climate Crisis with Congresswoman Kim Schrier and New Mexico Representative Melanie Stansbury.” Melanie is the Democratic nominee to fill the House seat vacated by Secretary Deb Haaland, and I’m excited to have you hear from her (alongside her Emerge sister, Congresswoman Kim Schrier of Washington). You can join as my guest (just email me if you’d like to come) or join the Emerge leadership circle here. (If you’ve never joined me for a salon, check out the highlight reel here! They are really fun, low-key events.)

May 4th, 4:15pm PT: I have been on #TeamJCF since Day #1, and I know better than to count out Jennifer Carroll Foy in the race to be Virginia’s next governor. An investment in Jenn is an investment in not only this election, but in the long career she has ahead of her. Join me and Congresswoman Katie Porter to come meet Jenn and support her campaign to be the first Black woman to serve as governor. Contribute and RSVP here.

May 6, 5pm PT: Join Representation Matters for an event in support of two (of three!) women of color in the U.S. Senate who are up for re-election in 2022: Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois. We will be joined on the call by special guest Carol Moseley Braun, the very first Black woman Senator. RSVP and contribute here.

May 26, 5pm PT: This year’s Emerge Across America will feature Secretary Hillary Clinton along with a truly incredible lineup of Emerge alumnae from across the country. Your ticket (which starts at just $25) will help fund Emerge’s vision of training 100,000 women of the New American Majority, including Black, Brown and Indigenous women and women of color, LGBTQ+ women, young women, and unmarried women to run for office. Grab your ticket 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: Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong.