Rise Up. Speak Out. Push Back.

Rise Up. Speak Out. Push Back.

Rise Up. Speak Out. Push Back.

Dear fellow Tennesseans:

I know. I feel your pain. I live here too.

I was here when the Republicans won their supermajority, and I’ve watched over the last few years as Democrats have taken the beatdown one election after another.

I understand how defeating it can be. I understand how frustrating it can be.

But dear fellow Tennesseans: rolling over is not the answer.

I’ve heard your stories about how weary you are. I’ve heard all about the phone banking you did, the candidate you were sure was going to win, the devastation at the loss. And now here we are again, asking for money, asking for volunteers, asking about yard signs, asking for your support and endorsement.

Recently I had the opportunity to speak before a group from whom I was requesting an endorsement. My opponent was also present to speak. This is a group that has suffered greatly from the policies of a Republican supermajority. A group that would benefit tremendously from the worker-empowering policies and people-centered governing our party offers.

It was a wonderful panel. I was prepared and answered every question, politely but firmly pointing out my opponent’s empty promises compared to his prior voting record. I heard him flatter, equivocate, and aw-shucks his way through hurtful issues that he personally not only voted for, but sponsored. I heard him promise that in the future, unlike the prior 12 years, all would be well, that he cared about and understood their problems. I reminded the listeners that anyone can use words and empty promises, that the proof is in the proverbial pudding of voting records.

Afterwards, I received much positive feedback from this group that not only was every answer I gave dead-on, but if implemented would make a lifetime’s difference for these workers. I was thanked for standing up for their issues, for pushing back and calling out the hypocrisy of the flowery language.

And I didn’t get the endorsement. But, good news! They weren’t going to endorse him either. Wow. Open the champagne.

“We don’t want to make him mad.”

“You probably won’t be able to get that kind of legislation passed.”

“You know, politics, right?”

No, not right. I don’t care if he’s mad. Maybe I won’t get the legislation passed, but I tell you this: he has shown you every which way from Sunday that HE’S not going to do it.

You cry and complain (rightfully) that no one is looking out for your organization. You ask for help, and recognize that help will likely only come through the political system. And yet when someone steps up to stand in the breach, and take on the Goliath, and work in the hot August sun going door to door, and dial for dollars until they’re crosseyed, and take the vitriol from the Trumpers, you respond: Sorry, we can’t endorse you??

Oh. I understand. You’ll wait for a crumb to fall from the table, for the bone to be tossed. Sure, no worries, maybe he won’t cut your salary, or decrease your benefits, or make your job even less secure. You’ll bow to the very entity that put you in this bind to begin with. I’m sure those young people who dream of entering your profession will understand why you didn’t fight back. I’m sure they’ll understand that your focus was this election right here, right now, and your fear that if you didn’t have a sure thing, you were going to risk nothing.

My friends, this is about the long game. This is about standing and fighting when you’ve been knocked down, over and over, and over and over. It’s about phone banking, again, and donating, again, and volunteering, again, and it might even be about losing, AGAIN. I know you’ve done it before, and I know you’re tired of doing it. But that is not the criteria we use when we are determining what is right and what is wrong. In fact, most of the time, doing the right thing is NOT the easy thing. Our beautiful state is worth fighting for.

Rise up, Tennesseans. Make your presence known. Our opponents will at the very least have to step over our beaten, battered bodies on their way in the door. Our opponents will have heard our voice, YOUR voice, and will know that we are alive and kicking in Tennessee. Be proud of who you are and what you believe.

Speak out, Tennesseans. In the history of the world, nothing has EVER gotten accomplished against an oppressor with silence. Be loud. Be proud. Know I have your back and let me know that you have mine. Shout it from the rooftops. Folks, we have facts, data, and evidence on our side. Our ideas ARE better – they are more inclusive, more kind, more RIGHT.

Push back, Tennesseans. I know you’re tired. I know what the math looks like. I know the machine we are up against. Believe me, I know. But don’t just hand this to them. We need you, we all need each other. There is one way to get political power, and that is to win it.

If every Tennessean in the state would rise up, speak out, and push back, we could change the landscape in our beautiful state. Imagine a future in Tennessee where people have the health care they need, where the living wage is increased, where we respect our teachers with salary and benefits and not just empty promises and pretty words. Imagine a Tennessee where growth and development must be managed because so many new businesses want to come to this beautiful state, because of its diversity, inclusiveness, infrastructure, schools, and embrace of progress.

You are the key to this future. Rise up. Speak out. Push back.