Miss Dem

{November 16, 2008}   Expectations

With the accolades of winning office, come the inherent responsibilities associated with that office. While many legislators work in offices, removed from the daily interaction with their constituents – a safe zone – I spend my work days seeing the faces of my constituents as they come in for their milk or beer. It is precisely what allowed me to win with such a significant margin of victory, but it is also what will hold me accountable in ways beyond the imagination of many.

Following the “congratulations” that continue to pour in from folks who have yet to see me post-election, comes also the depth of sorrow from so many who have put their faith in me when all else had failed for them. “You realize we’re counting on you, right?”

It’s less a reminder and more a cry for help. “I didn’t vote for anyone else; just you,” one person said. “But I voted.”

The people who society forgets showed up in droves to cast their ballot for the one politician they could relate to. To many, I’m just a cashier but to others – I’m one of them. And they will not take lightly to me forgetting my roots. It is this level of personal accountability that makes it that much more important for me to do solid work on their behalf.

“You’re not going to forget us, right?”

So I say to everyone who raised their hopes one last time and cast their ballot, I shall not forget you. In fact, your faces sit with me as decisions are made and deals are brokered under the capitol dome. It is you I have come to love and believe in and it is you I will remember as the depths of our budget crisis become evermore clear. I often feel like one of the forgotten ones, which is precisely why I fight that much harder to be heard. It is for those whose backs are breaking under the weight of their lives, it is to you I salute and to you I represent.


{November 11, 2008}   The Finish Line

Okay, so my big dreams of starting up the blog again were trumped by the very real need to campaign. Daily. Each year around my birthday, I tend to wax nostalgic about the good old days (were there any?) and the idea that each new year brings with it a fresh new start.

And while most good starts end somewhere, or at least go somewhere, this was more of a false start. A teaser to let people know that in my heart of hearts, I am still blogging. So here I am on the other end of a long campaign finish line feeling rather purged of anxiety, restlessness and a fear that the future just might not be as bright as I hoped. It’s an unusual emptiness that permeates. I’ve been on such an emotional roller coaster – much like the rest of America – that I now feel dizzy from the ride. Happy, but dizzy.

On Wednesday, I begin my training as a representative-elect, learning the ins and outs of parliamentarian procedure, protocol and partisan meandering that allows us to move forward Progressive legislation or block the crap brought forth from the camp dedicated to drowning government in the proverbial bathtub. Campaigning was a learning curve in and of itself, but now there is another steep hill of intellect to climb and a jagged little pill of social decorum to swallow. Opinions run deep with me and I am quite confident in my need to remove my emotional fixation on things as quickly as possible should I desire to move forward the pieces of legislation I quietly envision.

I regret not writing about the ins and outs of campaigning, but it is those ins and outs that often prevented me from having a spare moment to think let alone write what I think. Time and again, life gets in the way. Perhaps I will find time now to write, in hindsight, about my experience. It is an inspiring and also surprisingly lonely process. You can be surrounded by a sea of people and yet feel all alone, often paralyzed by the vast amount of “to dos” on your list. In the real world, there are no campaign managers to oversee all the operations. There are no grandiose speeches or soap boxes upon which the future of our democracy resides

I will leave those pontifications to the great leaders of our time. I see them on TV, I vote for them in the ballot box, but be clear those are the campaigns dreams are made of. Or, the fodder for West Wing-ophiles like yours truly. On the streets of small town politickas, there are doors to be knocked on, postcards to be licked and hands to be shook. But also in the real world, I’ve found that by searching for the approval of others, what we really find is the very real approval of ourselves.

The face we put on the world must be the face we see in the mirror. Authenticity is paramount in the wake of such collective deception, but even behind the quasi-cloak of MissDem there are stories that are harder to share. Behind the bright smile, there are darker moments when it has been difficult to comprehend my own perception of failure in the eyes of my parents. Only now that I am state rep-elect, have they elected to sign on board for the swearing in. Suddenly, I am cool – or at least for the moment.

But there are more important moments when lives have changed, inspiration has been derived and my general faith in humanity has been restored. It is here where personal struggle meets the betterment of humanity that I live. Where the common good supersedes the common sense of even the most sensical of parents. It is here that I live.

And now, I will celebrate in a wonderful victory, enjoy the company of a fantastic boyfriend and cherish the fragile nature of happiness that we all seek. For as things have come together this week, so shall my will be challenged in the next. It is that challenge that keeps us going -that wreaks havoc on our hearts and leaves us dizzy from exhaustion, misery and joy on that roller coaster we call life.



{September 6, 2008}   McPain

This week launched the beginning of the real test of this campaign. McCain picked brilliantly so far as middle America is concerned. On the surface, Sarah Palin comes across smart and sassy with a bit of good looks thrown in for good measure. It is when we scratch below the surface that things begin to smell a bit less than rosy.

As I knock on doors and speak to people at the mom and pop store I’m moonlighting in, I am amazed at how many people are fed up with Bush, but don’t feel comfortable voting for Obama. They’re not happy with McCain either, but they are looking for a reason to vote for him. To some, Palin may well be that reason. Though I have yet to discover any reason why that would be. Perhaps they have little interest in scratching the surface at all.

So, folks, we need a brand. Or, in this case, an anti-brand. I do graphic design, but have no time to refangle the McCain logo and hope someone might take up this idea and run with it. McCain + Palin screams to me one thing: McPain.

We need a McCampaign – we need to tie the policies of McCain to something as simple as McDonalds. We all understand the McJob – so much so that McDonalds has gone on the offensive about it. Apparently, they were offended to think folks thought of their “careers” as low-wage, slave work for students and folks stuck in a socio-economic spiral. That all said, the idea of a “McJob” or a “Mc-Anything” comes with certain connotations. It is high time we connect the dots.



McNugget (Could be chicken or gold!  Just kidding)

And last, but not least, we need to brand this “McPain” with the McCain logo and everything. Perhaps we could throw in some handy, dandy golden arches instead of that doo-dad at the bottom of his name to add some salient punch to the concept.

We are working so hard to message things when the solution seems quite obvious. And when McCain (or Palin) says something dumb, all our pundits need to say is, “Doh, yet another McPainful moment in history.”

As with anything, this has to be viral – so if you like the idea, run with it. Spread the McPain message and if you’re good with logos, send me one!

{August 29, 2008}   Living History

There are times in life when you know in some small or big way that you are part of history in the making. Tonight, I was moved to tears – not simply by the words I heard from a leader of generations, but by the moment itself.

I am a strong believer in opportunity. It empowers in ways nothing else can. And tonight, we saw the return of the great American promise of opportunity. Opportunity to further ones education. Opportunity to provide for our families. Opportunity to get ahead with some self-initiative. Those opportunities have been taken from us in ways we can’t even quantify let alone comprehend. Each issue exacerbates the other until we are mired down in a malaise of missed chances and measured decisions.

Tonight, that paradigm has shifted. Like millions of Americans, I stood with a group of complete strangers watching a man I have never met change the world by speaking to the hearts and souls of each of us individually through collective consciousness.

We have lost faith in our government which, by default, means we have lost faith in ourselves. Tonight, we regain faith in ourselves, our neighbors and our country. Tonight, we take back the reigns of the government and again own what is rightfully ours.

To be awed is remarkable. To be inspired is incredible. And to be moved to collective action by the millions is a generational awakening. Tonight, we have awoken. Tonight, we have beaten back the pessimism and fear of our adversaries. Tonight, we are again proud, dignified Americans.

Yes, we can lead by the power of our example.

Yes, we can empower the powerless.

Yes, we can educate the illiterate.

Yes, we can create jobs by addressing climate change.

Yes, we can restore our faith in ourselves, our government and the dignity of our friends around the world.

Yes, we can make history. In fact, tonight we just did.

{August 9, 2008}   back to basics

Hi Friends,

After a long hiatus from writing, I have decided it is time to get back to basics. Today, I celebrate my annual personal holiday, this being my 32nd annual holiday. Each year, I take time out to reflect on life, what’s important, where I’ve been and possibly even where I’m headed. (At least where I’d like to head!) I am spending this weekend away from the hubub of Portland, relaxing in my home away from home and gearing up for this fall.

Nationally, 2008 is the year of change and that certainly has translated directly into my life. I have been in DC, come back and am running for office. In the public eye, it has been a far easier transition than in actuality. There are challenges in life we all face, challenges that build character as much as they frustrate. But this has also been one of the best years of my life.

This spring, I had the honor of meeting far more people in my neighborhood than I ever would have had I not run for office. As I wrote about my experiences, I didn’t realize people were paying attention to what I was writing. In fact, someone came up to me on Primary Day and said, “You make it sound like everyone should run for office.”

I was so moved by this simple statement. On the one hand, I was honored that this person was paying attention to what I was writing. (Yes, I am a Leo after all) But more importantly, my experiences on the campaign trail were resonating with someone on a level that inspired civic engagement. I hope the message translated to others as well because, in fact, I do believe everyone should run for office. You meet people you would not have otherwise met, you hear stories that break your heart as quickly as they lift if up. I have developed friendships and found moments I will never forget.

It’s been a remarkable experience, one that I encourage anyone who cares about their community to take on for themselves. It is humbling in a good way.

Well, the sun is peaking out just in time for my birthday and I should be spending time outdoors instead of in front of a laptop. So, I’m going to get out there and soak up the first rays in about three weeks. Best to you all; will be writing about life and politics again soon!



et cetera