NWGSD to DC
Thanks to an invitation from Congressman Earl Blumenauer and a scholarship from the NWGSD Board Development Fund, I was fortunate enough to be able to visit Washington D.C. in early June.
What an experience it was!
It was fascinating to see the pace of a congressional office, which was even faster and busier than I imagined. The Congressman spent most of his time meeting with constituents, legislators, and staff and several times per day he would walk over to the Capitol building to vote. I was surprised at how often the House voted and how late at night the votes took place.
The days were long and busy and I got to witness firsthand how much stamina and dedication is needed to keep up this pace.
One of the most interesting parts of the trip were the "down times" when I was sitting in the
office quietly observing. It was great to feel the energy in the room as the staff members collaborated and brainstormed. They are a passionate, dedicated, and hard-working group of people.
The "In Our America" flag was incredibly well-received and I was able to share it with many important people. They were inspired by the message and eager to hear about the work of NWGSD.
One of the main questions I asked everyone I met was "What are the most effective actions our group can be doing?"
They all confirmed what I have heard from many others -- keep calling members of Congress, and sending postcards and emails. They keep a tally of all of them and if they don't hear from us, they will certainly be hearing from others with different viewpoints and that will go on the record.
For this reason, they said that it is still very important for people in blue states to continue to call their reps to voice their opinions and to show their support for the work their legislators are doing.
In a message to NWGSD, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici said, "I just want to emphasize how important it is to hear from the constituents we represent."
The public outcry that is heard during marches, rallies, and on social media is important too. We must be vigilant about continuing to hold our reps accountable and to make noise about the things we want changed.
When Conor Lamb, the democratic congressman from Pennsylvania who recently won a special election that attracted national attention, walked into the office, I was thrilled to be able to tell him that many NWGSD members wrote postcards to his district via Postcards to Voters.
He confirmed what the others said: Postcard writing is very effective and encouraging people to vote is going to be a key component of how the midterm elections turn out.
On the final day of my trip, I met with John Bivona,
the Deputy Political Director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the official campaign arm of the Democrats in the House of Representatives.
He told me that they depend on grassroots groups like NWGSD to help support candidates and they have recently invested in organizers to work on the ground with groups like Indivisible and Swing Left in targeted districts. They have also added extra teams to oversee races deeper on the map to support and guide those candidates.
He also said they have recorded very high turnouts for primary elections -- more people turned out for the Iowa primary than they did for the 2016 caucus and that was the case in Nebraska, Texas, and many other states.
Turnout is one of the main things we need to focus as we head into the midterm elections, so he encourage us to continue our focus on voter registration and get out the vote efforts. He also said their red to blue list is bigger than ever and 40-50% of the candidates are women.
This trip was very beneficial for me in my role as president of NWGSD. In addition to the inspiration I received by meeting dedicated politicians and seeing firsthand the hard work they are doing, I received confirmation that the work our group is doing is effective and is influencing politics, not only at the local level, but at the national level as well.
THANK YOU to the board of NWGSD for approving the funding of this trip, to Congressman Earl Blumenauer for his incredible hospitality and hard work, and to Willie, Phillip, Nicole, David, and the rest of the staff for making this trip memorable, energizing, and informational.