WOMEN

‘A Lot Is On The Table’ For Cecile Richards, Ai-jen Poo And Alicia Garza

The leaders of Supermajority are still vague on specifics, but the energy behind the new political organization is high.

WASHINGTON ― Cecile Richards used one word to describe the first day of Supermajority, a new political organization dedicated to building tangible power for American women, which she started with fellow activists Alicia Garza and Ai-jen Poo: “Crazy.”

Within 24 hours of the group’s launch on Monday morning, a spokesperson said, women (and male allies) from all 50 states had signed up for membership calls and filled out a questionnaire on the issues they care most about. Richards told HuffPost that in those initial hours, they also received email after email from women’s groups asking for training resources and connections.

“It’s definitely a little bit of an ‘if you build it, they will come’ kind of thing,” Richards said on Monday. “But the truth is, women are already building it. ... [Supermajority] is not creating a need ― it’s actually addressing a demand.”

Supermajority ― the name refers to the fact that women are more than half of the U.S. population ― has been launched by three notable names in the liberal sphere: Richards, the former president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America; Garza, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network and principal of Black Futures Lab; and Poo, the director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

The details of how they will address the political demand they see are still vague. The organization does not yet have a model for its on-the-ground partnerships with both national and local organizations, even as it’s in the process of building those partnerships. The specifics of how Supermajority will interact with large, established women’s political organizations, like Emily’s List, Planned Parenthood and Women’s March, are still unclear, though Richards, Poo and Garza seem to see existing organizations as opportunities for amplification and collaboration.

Ai-jen Poo chats at the Supermajority launch party on April 29 in Washington, D.C.
Ai-jen Poo chats at the Supermajority launch party on April 29 in Washington, D.C.

The team is also still mapping out how they will be involved in the 2020 elections ― though they have already committed to mobilizing more than 2 million female voters and creating a set of legislative policies that will make up a New Deal for Women ― but Poo told HuffPost that a presidential candidate forum or debate is certainly a possibility.

“A lot is on the table,” Poo said. “What we’re focused on right now is organizing. We’re organizers and we’re really focused on connecting women and building power and there’s a lot of work to do, so we want to focus on that and also hear from women about their concerns and priorities. And then we’ll see.”

When asked if they were worried that attempting to target such a wide range of issues, from wage inequality to child care to family separation to reproductive health care to mass incarceration, might dilute the effectiveness of their efforts, Richards and Poo (Garza was taking a call outside in preparation for Monday evening’s big launch event) emphatically said no.

“We can’t fix everything but so many of these issues are intertwined,” said Richards. “I don’t think that distracts from the power of any one issue. I actually think what it does is amplify the fact that if you look at what [is being done around] any major issue in this country, ... the work is being done by women ― and by a really diverse set of women who might not even know each other.”

Supermajority’s message is “that women’s lives are whole and human,” Poo stressed. “And that we shouldn’t have to choose or prioritize or put into a hierarchy.”

Alicia Garza speaks at the Supermajority launch party on April 29.
Alicia Garza speaks at the Supermajority launch party on April 29.

Poo also pushed back on the idea that, given the leanings of its three founders, Supermajority will inevitably exclude a chunk of American women who identify as conservatives. She told HuffPost that the fledgling organization isn’t about “conservative or progressive or all these labels and boxes that we’ve created.” 

“I think it’s not about ideology,” Poo said. “We’re really talking about values and we really do believe that the vast majority of women share concerns and values in this country. These values are majoritarian values in the country, and they’re about family and the dignity of work and our ability to be safe and whole. I think that what we want to do is have a real conversation about how we uplift those values.” 

For now, though, it seems likely that Supermajority’s membership will be predominantly women and male allies who identify as politically left. Poo also said that the organization, which plans to prioritize training and education, will have space for those who are still in the process of becoming more politically informed. Poo, Richards and Garza want as few “barriers to entry” into their movement as possible, while still maintaining a set of clearly articulated values.

Cecile Richards (center) poses for a photo at the Supermajority launch party.
Cecile Richards (center) poses for a photo at the Supermajority launch party.

“I really treasure the people who’ve held the space for me to learn and grow in my consciousness about different issues and different experiences of life in this country, including so many domestic workers who’ve taught me most of what I know about politics,” said Poo. “I really want Supermajority to be a space where we can hold women in a process of transformation together. … And that spirit of generosity and support and compassion I think is going to be really key to us being powerful together.”

Monday evening’s launch party, held at the Hotel Eaton DC, was buzzing with raw energy and excitement. A large, diverse crowd filled the event space from wall to wall, sipping drinks and dancing to Lizzo.

At the end of the night, Garza took the mic. “Are we the supermajority? Are we ready to win? Are we ready to bring others along?” she asked to rousing cheers of “Yes!”

“All right, well then, let’s get it.”

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