Sometimes politics is depressing.
Understatement of the year, right? It’s been a rough road. I’m relatively new to politics, becoming involved for the first time in 2008. It’s been four years since I started paying attention to McCain/Obama and obsessing over blogs, over news. When I threw myself into full time activism in 2009, I had absolutely no idea what this world was like. I’d never been to a rally, I didn’t even know what CPAC was. I had no expectation. Especially on the new media front, so many of us were just figuring it out as we went.
There’s no roadmap. There’s no one to tell you what comes next. It’s exciting and scary.
Early on, I got to travel and meet activists, connect with people on Twitter and through blogging. The energy was unbelievable. I’ll never forget when I rolled into 9/12 in 2009. I got off the metro in DC and couldn’t even process the amount of people I saw. I’d never been in a crowd that large, and had no idea what a million people even looked like, but there they were.
I remember pushing my way to the front of the crowd (which took over an hour) and being shoulder to shoulder with Teri Christoph and Rebecca Wales, trying to get to the stage because we’d been told they were going to introduce Smart Girl Politics. We eventually made it up, and I stood on that stage looking out at the crowd and it took my breath away. You could feel the energy of people from all over the country, coming to make themselves heard for the sake of their country, children, and grandchildren.
I had moved to DC just a week before the 9/12 march on Washington. I was brand new. There was so much passion and enthusiasm and hope in people’s faces as they marched down Pennsylvania Ave. and recited the First Amendment off the side of the Newseum building. We went into it a fresh, rejuvenated mass of people who were going to change the world.
Now it has been almost three years since that moment on the west lawn of the Capitol. We’ve had more influence and become a more sustained, organized group than most ever believed we would be. We had no media support. We were fighting Republicans AND Democrats. We were David trying to slay the Goliath that was Big Government, with their army of crony capitalists and lapdog media in tow. Somehow, we caused a landslide electoral shift in 2010. People were paying attention. Politicians were responding.
Then it got harder. A lot of the candidates we put blood, sweat and tears into electing have disappointed us. There has been little movement legislatively. The GOP forced Mitt Romney down our throats after a horrendously divisive, seemingly eternal primary season. Now we’re into the last few months leading up to what is certainly the most important election of my lifetime, and I’m tired.
I’m tired of fighting for people I don’t believe in. I said I’d never vote for the lesser of two evils again, and now… here I am. Mitt Romney was my very last choice at the beginning of this cycle, and I’m resentful that he was thrust on us and that I’m just supposed to deal with it because “OMG YOU HAVE TO SUPPORT HIM!!!11! WHY DO YOU LOVE OBAMA!!???!”
I don’t love Barack Obama. He’s far more destructive than I ever imagined an American president could be. The moment Bill Clinton started looking good because I believed he didn’t actually hate the country he was supposed to be running, I knew there was a serious problem. This movement, the Occupy vs. Tea Party message, the class warfare rhetoric… this is more than a simple political pendulum swing. This is a crossroads. This is when we decide which direction we’re going to choose, which America my children will grow up in.
I need it to be the one I was blessed to grow up in. The one that allowed my grandfather to run a sportman’s store in a small town for 35 years. The one that allowed my parents to be self-employed and do the things that they loved for a living. The one that gave me the opportunity to be the first in my family to graduate from college, to pursue multiple careers in fields that I love, and to carve out a niche that landed me what I believe to be the coolest job ever.
It’s hard to live and breathe the economic news every day. I always joke that Jim Pethokoukis’ Twitter feed makes me want to move into a bunker and stock up on ammo. Combine European collapse, dismal employment numbers, crippling national debt, and massive entitlement programs desperately in need of reform with a government that is terrified to make the radical changes needed to improve the situation, and the outlook is bleak. The Supreme Court ruling on health care took the wind out of the sails of many freedom lovers, and the idea of rallying behind a GOP candidate that helped him write it is almost unbearable. How do you keep fighting? What is the point? When is it okay to crawl into my hole and enjoy my freedom while I have it?
I spoke to my dear friend Amy Kremer in DC at the Smart Girl Summit last week. She was telling me the story of an activist that came up to her and told her how lucky she was, because she got to travel around and see the hope in the eyes of people around the country; that all she got to see what doom and gloom on radio and television, and getting to be inspired by others must be such a blessing.
I have that same blessing. I get to connect with people all over the country who are giving everything they have to save it. I look around at the people that were so hopeful, so full of energy and spirit, and they’re tired, too… and they still show up. So many people that started this fight with me are there, at every training, every conference, every rally. They’re pouring every spare second into blogging, reporting, researching, podcasting, organizing, campaigning, walking neighborhoods, making phone calls, training people, and speaking, and inspiring everyone around them to do the same.
THAT is where I find hope. Freedom will win. It has to.
It took me months to come around to voting for Mitt Romney. I still don’t know if I can work for him, or even tell you to do the same. I don’t know what’s going to happen in November. I do know that Barack Obama is giving us a pretty clear picture of how we can destroy our country, and with it our freedom. I know that we are the only ones that can stop it. That’s enough to keep me in the fight.
Let’s do this.