Together, we marched for democracy. Today, we run for office.
A firestorm of women and their allies descended on our nation’s capital and more than 600 towns and cities across the United States and worldwide. It is estimated that nearly 3 million people marched in solidarity on January 21st. I was one of them. Throughout the day, we heard powerful messages of love and resilience, saw clever and cunning signs, and listened to speakers recognize and lift up the most marginalized Americans.
Best of all, calls to action were followed up with concrete next steps. March organizers released 10 actions in 100 days and the United State of Womenand partners held an advocacy training the next day. The echo chamber calling women to run for office was clear, coming from Congressional leaders and activists alike. Newly elected Senator Kamala Harris said, together “we are powerful and we are a force that cannot be dismissed or written off onto the sidelines.” Ai-Jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance said, “It turns out, defending democracy is women’s work” after reading aloud the names of proud feminist leaders.
Ladies, it’s time to run. To truly catalyze this newfound resolve into real political change, we must step into the arena. At VoteRunLead, we’re ready to get to work. There are just over 500,000 elected positions in the United States, from dog catcher to Congresswoman. If just a fraction of us who marched decided to run, we would be able to shift the paradigm and create permanent change in just four years. Right now, we’re less than a quarter of elected officials — often consolidated in big cities with rural communities most predominantly male. If you are ready to run, say yes here and get started. We’ll get you connected to a community of awesome women, a coach you can to talk to, and a curriculum you can follow. This #NowWeRun To-Do List will get you started:
- Get Local: Go to a local government meeting. Most city council, school board and county meetings are public and have times where constituents can speak out or ask a question. Or simply listen and watch how the business of government gets done. Make sure you introduce yourself and take business cards.
- Know Who Represents You (these are seats you can run for, too!). Use Ballotpedia or a simple Google search to find out who your local elected official is. Don’t forgot about checking out your local board of elections for important upcoming deadlines. PRO TIP: Government websites are slow; give yourself time to browse.
- Get 3 Coffees on Your Calendar. Reach out to the folks who represent you or find someone who is like you (sometimes that can be two towns over). Ask them for coffee and a half hour of their time. Be prepared with questions. Don’t worry, you don’t have to say you are running just yet.
- Find your Political Mother. There is a woman in the community, maybe she is elected or appointed, or maybe she is a nonprofit leader, or she marched 30 years ago (or maybe she is a he). Regardless, find someone that is going to give you the tough love needed to run and be the mentor who helps you navigate the ins and outs of the “local” stuff.
- Start Your Campaign in 2 Hours. Watch the VoteRunLead “This is How You Run for Office” web class. The first hour of inspiration is three women who ran and won in November. They will debunk the myths we tell ourselves and answer personal questions. The second half training will walk you through the decision to run, where to research what to run for, and the basic “how tos” of campaigning. Have a pen and paper ready!
Want to learn more? Join the community of women ready to run and lead at VoteRunLead. We have over 60 resources for women who are just starting to think about running for public office and those already down the campaign trail. Here’s a start:
1. Share the video of the VoteRunLead training session, “This is How You Run for Office” with your networks.
4. Donate. Demand is high and resources at VoteRunLead go directly to training more women to run.
My eyes welled when the crowds thickened, standing outside the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC on Saturday. I teared up again, seeing VoteRunLead alumnae leading rallies from Milwaukee to Denver, scrolling through my social feeds. This weekend’s marches showed the power of women when we step up to and stand out. The demonstrations allowed me to truly imagine the impact of thousands of women in state houses, school boards, and councils — women creating the kind of communities we want to live in and futures we want for our children. Now, I can imagine that future. Now, we run.