A birthday message
Six years ago, Ezra tweeted out a Google doc, “Indivisible: a Practical Guide to Resisting the Trump Agenda,” that we had written together. The details of that night — the guide going viral, the google doc crashing, the flood of emails from around the country from people who had begun to organize and would soon be taking the name Indivisible and the strategy of the guide and making it their own — are forever etched in my mind.
It had been about six weeks since Trump’s shocking election, and we had been grieving, raging, and scheming ever since. We were deeply afraid of what would happen when Trump and the incoming Congressional Republican majorities took office. We were concerned that no one in Washington was prepared to really, truly resist. In short, we were really, really scared.
But we had an idea. We could take tried-and-true strategies that we’d seen in our own careers as Congressional staffers, and turn them into a how-to guide for the wave of new organizers around the country who were just getting started.
In the days to come, I’d hear from so many people that the Indivisible Guide had given them hope. At the time, I found it surprising. I thought we’d written something angry and cynical — that was how I was feeling, after all! We were pissed-off staffers taking the knowledge we’d acquired on the inside and throwing it out to the world. We figured after the guide was published, we’d never work on the Hill again, and we didn’t care — because what was the point of being part of a system that hummed merrily along as Trump attacked our neighbors and our democracy? We were doing it just in case someone, somewhere, could use our insider knowledge, because we knew that resistance would be bottom-up, or it wouldn’t happen at all.
In other words, we didn’t set out to tell anyone to have hope. We set out to tell people they had power. It would take us some time to fully understand the connection between those two things.
And in the days to come, we would find hope ourselves. We would find it in our email inbox, where stories had begun to pour in from around the country. In writing the guide, we had catapulted ourselves into a nascent movement. In living rooms and church basements and libraries around the country, people had already begun organizing. And as the guide spread, we began to connect with them, to hear their stories, to become part of their own journeys.
I could talk about the movement in numbers: more than 2,700 groups in nearly every Congressional district, over 150,000 events around the country over the last six years, almost eighty MILLION doorknocks, postcards, calls and text to voters, the list goes on. But numbers don’t truly capture the power, beauty, and joy of the Indivisible movement.
Because Indivisible is fundamentally a movement of stories — the stories of leaders, organizers and activists around the country who stood up in that moment, and in the six years since, to fight back. And in the days to come, there were stories I’d hear over and over and over again.
The mom or dad who had felt something snap in them the morning after the election, when they had to explain to their kids why the bully had won and would become President. Who had never been active before, but knew they had to do something now.
The woman who’d retired a few years ago, but was now taking a lifetime of skills and experience — as a teacher, as a salesperson, as a business owner, as a data analyst, as a PTA leader — and pouring it into building local community power.
The woman who’d never believed she was important enough to talk to her member of congress or to get involved in politics, but who now realized she had had the power all along. Who, more often than not, would soon be running for office herself.
From those seeds would sprout an incredible garden. Upset political victories across the country. The defeat of Trumpcare. Women running for office — everywhere, at every level — in historic numbers. A Blue Wave in 2018. The impeachment of Trump. Another Blue Wave in 2020.
Each of these victories could be an email — or a book — of its own. I can’t do justice to it all here. But I want to share a few snapshots of memories and actions that will forever stay with me:
- Let’s start with the very first action! Roanoke Indivisible started Day One of the 115th Congress by paying a visit to Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s office and demanding he respond to his constituents — sparking national coverage of the guide and our burgeoning network.
- When Republicans tried to shut us out, Indivisibles never failed to find new ways to be seen and heard: from protesting on kayaks at Trump’s golf course, to empty chair town halls, to the one and only Cardboard Cory.
- Before Jon Ossoff became a senator, Indivisibles across Georgia and virtually around the country took action in his 2017 special election for Congress. When the race was called and we came up short, Ezra and I called group leaders in Georgia that night to thank them and support them on a tough loss — but they were ECSTATIC. They couldn’t believe how close we got in a tough district, and they were already making plans to flip the seat next time and win. They saw more clearly than anyone that this work takes persistence, and to turn our discouragement into determination. One year later, the same district would elect Rep. Lucy McBath. Three years later, Georgia would deliver the Senate trifecta.
- New York Indivisibles decided to do the politically unthinkable in 2018, and kick off the beginning of the end for the state’s Independent Democratic Conference (IDC). These “independent Democrats” aligned with Republicans in the state senate to block popular policies, and Indivisibles and allies across the state worked together to finally break their grip. State and local fights like this open doors for a new, more progressive generation of leadership, and serve as a model for our movement on how to demand more at every level of government.
- Indivisibles have mobilized for countless days and weeks of action, but 2021’s Deadline for Democracy will always hold a special place in my heart. In almost every state as well as DC, we planned nearly 400 events calling on the Senate to pass the For the People Act. The energy of that week sustained us long after the events ended, and solidified our network’s commitment to staying in the fight to defend our democracy and voting rights.
- This year was especially meaningful to me because I got to be out around the country, joining Indivisibles to canvass in key races in California, Arizona, Oregon, Texas and more. Personally I don’t think I’ll ever top the back-to-back opportunities to dress as a pioneer in Arizona, followed by dressing as a superhero in Oregon.
- Finally, on our birthday, I need to take a moment to recognize our movement’s collective love of cake. Whether it was to say goodbye, say hello, to celebrate another year of resisting, or just because, cake has featured prominently in our work.
Through wins and losses, profound grief and true joy, an abundance of community carried us through — through four years of Trump, through COVID, through the insurrection at the Capitol, through senseless acts of cruelty and violence, and through cynicism and despair, through so many highs and lows. We didn’t win every fight or every race, but we never gave up. Every fight was important, and every fight expanded the horizon of what was possible.
We transformed the future of our country, and in many ways we ourselves were transformed. I know I’m not the same person I was six years ago. No matter when or how we came into this work, we found a home where we could learn, grow and step into our own power. Fighting for a more just future is the work of a lifetime, and the community we’ve nurtured will be the source of our strength.
We count on grassroots donors (like you) to make our work possible, and we don’t accept money from corporate PACs or special interests. That independence is critical to our movement, and with all of the work in the new Congress, we’re going to need to be well-resourced so that we can stand up to MAGA extremism. If you’re able, please consider celebrating our birthday by making a donation today to fund all of the work in the year ahead.
I never could have imagined, sitting in my kitchen six years ago, what was to follow. It’s equally impossible to know what the year ahead will bring, but I know there is so much more we can and will accomplish together. Happy Birthday, Indivisibles — the best is yet to come.