I am a newcomer to this political process.
You see, from the time I first registered to vote, I have always been a registered Independent. When I was 18 I went to register to vote at a Democratic Party office near Seattle. The individual who I spoke with snatched the voter registration form from me after they asked if I was registering as a Democrat (which I had intended to do) and hearing my response of "Why?". Between that and the 2000 election, I was pretty disillusioned with the political process as a whole, the Democratic Party itself, and Republicans sure as hell didn't have a place for me in their party.
So I've been a registered Independent, casting an occasional vote here and there when I felt like there was someone worth casting a vote for. I don't subscribe to the "lesser of 2 evils" coercion. Of course, nothing really changed.
I followed some politicians, wishing someone would come along that I really believed in. I liked Clinton in 2008, but not enough to bother switching my registration to support prior to the nomination.
Then Bernie Sanders announced he was running, and I was elated. I didn't think he had a chance, but I was so happy that he was running because FINALLY there was someone I REALLY believed in running for POTUS (President Of The United States). I went to see him at an early rally in Denver June of last year.
One month later I registered as a Democrat for the first time in my life. I knew I had to do whatever I could to help get this man elected. He was right, we needed a political revolution.
Over the course of the next several months, I came to realize exactly what that meant, and realized too that I had to be part of it. We all did.
For numerous reasons, I decided I was going to make a run for Congress. I've spent my entire life beating the odds. I built my career by accomplishing the impossible, and now I had a new mountain to climb. First hurdle? The Congressional District 5 Convention/Assembly, and getting over the 30% threshold to get on the primary ballot (or capture the nomination if no one else ran).
And so a campaign was born, and we were off to the races. Through the power of social media, organizing, technical know how, and good old fashioned grit and determination, we arrived at the convention with as much campaign swag as we could muster on short notice with limited funds.
T-Shirts, rally signs, and stickers galore! I made it a point to be available to talk to people and hand out as much of our swag as possible, answering questions, and letting people get to know me. Sometimes the questions were quite pointed, but in the words of the immortal Popeye, "I yam what I yam and that's all that I yam".
I'm not really a typical anything. Probably the only labels that really apply to me are along the lines of unconventional or unorthodox (much to the chagrin of some on my campaign). I decided right from the get go that I wasn't going to change or hide who I was for the sake of trying to get elected. I'm authentic, and I'm real. People will either embrace me, or they won't.
At the convention I felt energized. People were clearly interested in me as a candidate. I didn't look the part, no fancy dress or carefully crafted image or prepared speech littered with political buzzwords, applause lines, and slogans. Just a raw, real, true, authentic person, passionate about trying to change things for the better.
I gave my speech the only way I knew how. I had some bullet points for subjects I wanted to hit, and spoke from the heart, glancing at the bullet points when I needed some direction on where to go next. I was extremely nervous, and I'm sure it showed, but I was going to speak my truth and passion.
I didn't realize until later after being told by multiple people, and seeing the end of a video, that I had received a standing ovation following my speech.
Then the people running the Assembly arbitrarily broke their rules (as I've discovered the entrenched political powers here love to do when it suits their purpose and they can get away with it) and held a revote. Truth be told, I didn't really have an issue with a revote (though i would have liked if someone had recorded the before totals so that the additional data was available). I'm a very firm believer in ensuring that people's voices are heard, and that they have an opportunity to make as informed a vote as possible. I have been told several times that the likely reason for the revote was because the leadership was unhappy with how it looked the vote was going to go (presumably in my favor).
I still won 51% of the vote.
I was totally blown away. An openly transgender woman in a polyamorous relationship managed to carry over 50% of the vote. I was stunned and humbled. Multiple people came up to me to congratulate me, some to share stories, and I wept more than once at some of the stories.
Little did I know that my adventure wasn't over. I thought for the state convention I would be able to just relax and watch the sausage making process that is the absurd caucus/convention system. I was informed I would be given 3 minutes on stage at the state convention to make a short speech.
Oh wonderful, I thought. I was nervous enough just in front of CD5, but there would be literally thousands of people at state. I honestly didn't think I would be able to do it, but I thought of a few points to hit on for a short speech.
Then as I made my way to the stage, I watched something happen that enraged me, disturbed me to my core, and overrode any anxiety that I felt. Once again, I did what I felt was right, and tried to give voice to those who were being silenced.
Instead of making a big speech about me or my views, I turned over my microphone and time to a gentleman to speak on an important issue that is generally quietly ignored. Once again, as I did at the County Convention, and again at the CD5 Convention, I annoyed the people in charge. They actually banged the gavel on the gentleman, and essentially ran him off the stage after only a minute and a half. I filled the rest of the time as best I could, however my voice started breaking almost immediately as I began to cry, so powerful are my emotions on this particular issue.
The deportation of military veterans. It's disgusting.
I left the stage and as I descended the steps, I heard people chanting my name. It was utterly surreal.
Bernie inspired me, and helped me find my voice. Now I'm trying to do the same for others.
We are all part of this political revolution. We Millennials are here to stay. We're loud, we're raucous, we're passionate, and we're not going anywhere. There is a change sweeping this country. The entrenched political powers are on borrowed time.
No longer will the important issues be ignored.
We will not be cowed.
There is a saying: "Well behaved women rarely make history."
If I may indulge in a little geekdom... to borrow a phrase from Firefly...
I aim to misbehave.