It’s almost impossible to be apathetic or complacent about politics these days. The election of Donald Trump has driven unprecedented numbers of people to protest in the streets. It has fueled ratings for cable news channels like MSNBC, and spiked subscriptions to the New York Times and Washington Post. People are incredulous and they want to do something to change the narrative.
Women in particular are animated like never before to get involved and even run for office. Programs like Emerge Maryland, where I sit on the board, have seen 10 times the interest in their training programs for women political candidates. For me, politics has become a full-time third career, following 30 years of working as a journalist and 9 years as a business executive. After competing for Congress in 2016 and losing in a hotly contested primary, I was doubly motivated after the Trump election to run for Democratic Party chair for the state of Maryland. Why? Because I can’t imagine a better way to serve my community with the skills I have honed over a lifetime. I’ve learned that politics is everyone’s business and my mission ― really my driving purpose ― is to build the connections between people towards a common good.
As a Democrat, I cannot stand still and watch the dismantling of the Obama health care program or the annihilation of environmental policies that address climate change. I must act, and I’m looking forward to being part of a nationwide resistance that puts people’s interest at the center. The good news is that the resistance is working. Republicans in the House of Representatives were forced to pull their bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, because they couldn’t muster the votes to get it passed. The politics were complicated, but I have to believe that our Democratic efforts to highlight the looming state of emergency for everyday Americans who would lose their health coverage helped win over some Republicans who had favored repeal. It certainly got the public’s attention and they made their feelings known at town halls and in the polls.
As a journalist I learned the power of storytelling, and I’m convinced that telling people’s stories will win the day. People like Barbara Gruber, whom I met recently in West Baltimore. She was part of the Save My Care bus tour, which has visited 22 states, across 14,000 miles, to alert people about the state of emergency we face with the repeal of Obamacare.
Barbara is recently retired, and lost her employer coverage, but is still 6 months shy of collecting Medicare. She has brittle bones syndrome, a pre-existing condition that has caused 5 breaks, and had moved to the ACA because of its affordability, simplicity and comprehensive coverage. Barbara’s story makes it very clear that repealing the Affordable Care Act would immediately devastate Maryland families and do real damage to our state’s economy. The more we focus on real people, the stronger our opposition to the Trump budget cuts that will have real human costs. On Saturday morning, I’ll be joining other women at a rally in our state capital to advocate for policies that empower people rather than push them backwards. I hope to persuade many of these newly motivated activists to move from the streets into the avenues of our newly invigorated Democratic party politics. I know Marylanders like Barbara are watching and counting on us. Together we can make a difference.