Dear​ ​Citizens

In​ ​my​ ​mind​ ​it’s​ ​​October​ ​2018.​ ​​ ​I’m​ ​wearing​ ​a​ ​grey​ ​hoodie​ ​and​ ​chuck​ ​taylors,​ ​pacing the​ ​neatly​ ​paved​ ​streets​ ​of​ ​a​ ​housing​ ​development​ ​in​ ​suburban​ ​Virginia.​ ​​ ​I’ve​ ​got​ ​a​ ​clipboard, google​ ​maps,​ ​and​ ​a​ ​pen.​ ​I​ ​look​ ​down​ ​at​ ​my​ ​paper​ ​as​ ​I​ ​inch​ ​up the walkway.​ ​​ ​“Lydia​ ​Smith,​ ​F,​ ​56. Charles​ ​Smith,​ ​M,​ ​62”​ ​I​ decide I’ll​ ​call​ ​them​ ​“Mr​ ​&​ ​Mrs​ ​Smith,”​ ​based​ ​on​ ​their​ ​age.​ I ​pause​ ​at the door and ​press​ ​down​ ​hard​ ​on​ ​the​ ​button​. I stick​ ​my​ ​ear​ ​out​ ​with​ ​my​ ​hand. I​ ​want​ ​to​ ​make​ ​sure​ ​it​ ​rings.​ ​​ ​Moments​ ​later​ ​I​ ​hear​ ​footsteps.​ ​​ ​“Mrs.​ ​Smith? Mr.​ ​Smith?​ ​​ ​I’m​ ​here with​ ​the​ ​Virginia​ ​democrats​ ​supporting….”​ ​I​ ​rehearse​ ​in​ ​my​ ​mind. ​I​ ​get​ ​ready​ ​to​ ​say​ ​it​ ​out​ ​loud.

This​ ​is​ ​where​ ​I’ll​ ​be​ ​in​ ​the​ ​summer​ ​and​ ​fall​ ​of​ ​2018, hell​ ​or​ ​high​ ​water, with​ ​my​ ​mother,​ ​a​ ​friend, or​ ​a​ ​family​ ​member,​ ​with​ ​a​ ​stranger,​ ​or​ ​just​ ​by​ ​myself.​ ​​ ​In​ ​the​ ​wake​ ​of​ ​the​ ​election​ ​of​ ​Donald​ ​J. Trump:​ ​reality​ ​star,​ ​liar,​ ​propagandist,​ ​fascist,​ ​rapist,​ ​President;​ ​I​ ​can’t​ ​prioritize​ ​anything​ ​but​ ​the election​ ​of​ ​a​ ​healthy​ ​opposition.​ ​​ ​I’ll​ ​be​ ​campaigning​ ​against​ ​republican​ ​Representative​ ​Barbara Comstock​ ​in VA​ ​District​ ​10.​ ​​ ​I​ ​will​ ​engage​ ​in​ ​an​ ​effort​ ​to​ ​check​ ​unbridled​ ​partisanship​ ​by Republicans-​ ​one​ ​so​ ​damning​ ​to​ ​the​ ​American​ ​public​ ​as​ ​to​ ​repeal​ ​the​ ​most​ ​historic​ ​health​ ​care bill​ ​in​ ​American​ ​history​ ​-​ ​one​ ​that​ ​insured​ ​20​ ​million​ ​more​ ​Americans​ ​and​ ​halted​ ​the​ ​astronomic rise​ ​in​ ​healthcare​ ​costs​ ​to​ ​the​ ​lowest​ ​it’s​ ​been​ ​in​ ​50​ ​years.​ ​​ ​I​ ​can’t​ ​sit​ ​back​ ​and​ ​let​ ​this​ ​happen​ ​to me,​ ​to​ ​my​ ​family,​ ​to​ ​America.​ ​​ ​I​ ​can’t.​ ​​ ​I​ ​can’t​ ​sit​ ​back​ ​with​ ​a​ ​bowl​ ​of​ ​popcorn​ ​and​ ​watch​ ​Donald​ ​J. Trump​ ​take​ ​away​ ​my​ ​healthcare​ ​and​ ​then​ ​start​ ​a​ ​Cold​ ​War​ ​with​ ​China.​ ​​ ​So​ ​I’m​ ​driving​ ​my​ ​ass out​ ​to​ ​Virginia.​ ​​ In 2016 I voted early then drove my ass out to North Carolina for myself, for my family, for a senate race, for a governors race, for our first would be female president. What​ ​else​ ​is​ ​a​ ​Washingtonian​ ​with​ ​no​ ​representation​ ​in​ ​congress​ ​to​ ​do?

Nearly​ ​a​ ​decade​ ​ago,​ ​I​ ​spent​ ​weekend​s in​ ​the​ ​summer​ ​and​ ​fall​ ​in​ ​Loudoun​ ​County,​ ​Virginia, leaving​ ​pamphlets​ ​about​ ​Barack​ ​Obama.​ ​​ ​At​ ​times​ ​I​ ​got​ ​the​ ​privilege​ ​of​ ​speaking​ ​with​ ​individuals about​ ​the​ ​candidate.​ ​​ ​But​ ​usually​ ​not.​ ​​ ​Usually​ ​all​ ​I​ ​did​ ​was​ ​leave​ ​a​ ​piece​ ​of​ ​paper​ ​and​ ​then​ ​a week​ ​before​ ​election​ ​day,​ ​I​ ​began​ ​leaving​ ​door​ ​hangers​ ​emblazoned​ ​with​ ​“your​ ​polling​ ​place,” and​ ​the​ corresponding ​address.​ ​​ ​But​ ​we​ ​only​ ​left​ ​these​ ​on​ ​Democrat​ ​doors​ ​or​ ​known independent​ ​supporters.​ ​​ ​We​ ​didn’t​ ​tell​ ​Republicans​ ​where​ ​to​ ​vote.​ ​​They​ ​could​ ​look​ ​that​ ​up online​ ​for​ ​themselves.

At​ ​the​ ​campaign​ ​office​ ​I​ ​was​ ​coached​ ​to​ ​share​ ​why​ ​I​ ​supported​ ​Barack​ ​Obama.​ ​​ ​It​ ​was hard​ ​because​ ​he​ ​had​ ​virtually​ ​no​ ​record​ ​and​ ​it​ ​didn’t​ ​feel​ ​persuasive​ ​to​ ​say​ ​“I​ ​want​ ​to​ ​elect the​ ​first​ ​Black​ ​president,”​ ​as​ ​if​ ​that​ ​was​ ​merit​ ​all​ ​its​ ​own​.​ ​​ ​I decided​ ​to​ ​hang​ ​my​ ​hat​ ​on​ ​Green​ ​Jobs​ ​&​ ​Health​ ​Care.​ ​​ ​I​ ​felt​ ​compelled​ ​that​ ​both​ ​economic​ ​and environmental​ ​concerns​ ​could​ ​be​ ​solved​ ​by​ ​the​ ​development​ ​of​ ​green​ ​jobs​ ​in​ ​the​ ​rust​ ​belt.​ ​​ ​I​ ​also knew​ ​that​ ​Obama​ ​wanted​ ​to​ ​make​ ​healthcare​ ​more​ ​affordable​ ​and​ ​as​ ​a​ ​24​ ​year​ ​old​ ​I​ ​was​ ​paying around​ ​600​ ​dollars​ ​per​ ​month​ ​on​ ​private​ ​single​ ​payer​ ​health​ ​insurance.​ ​​ ​I​ ​don’t​ ​remember​ ​any significant​ ​debate​ ​with​ ​any​ ​of​ ​the​ ​citizens​ ​on​ ​whose​ ​doors​ ​I​ ​knocked.​ ​​ ​All​ ​I​ ​remember​ ​is​ ​the adrenaline​ ​rush​ ​of​ ​reading​ ​the​ ​clipboard ​address​ ​and​ ​name,​ ​running,​ ​thinking who to ask for, what to say, knocking,​ ​a little​ ​breathless,​ ​on​ ​the​ ​door.​ ​​ ​Nervous.​ ​​ ​Nervous​ ​I’d​ ​bother​ ​a​ ​middle​ ​aged​ ​woman​ ​who​ ​just​ ​got​ ​off her​ ​afternoon​ ​shift,​ ​nervous​ ​I’d​ ​wake​ ​a​ ​sleeping​ ​baby,​ ​or​ ​force​ ​an​ ​ancient​ ​man​ ​up​ ​from​ ​his​ ​chair.

But​ ​I​ ​had​ ​to.​ ​​ ​Every​ ​cell​ ​in​ ​my​ ​being​ ​told​ ​me​ ​that​ ​Barack​ ​Obama​ ​had​ ​to​ ​be​ ​President.​ ​​ ​His​ ​life story​ ​inspired​ ​me,​ ​his​ ​passionate​ ​ideals​ ​gave​ ​me​ ​hope,​ ​and​ ​his blackness​ ​was​ ​poetry.​ ​​ ​To​ ​see​ ​the country​ ​lead​ ​by​ ​a​ ​man​ ​who,​ ​at​ ​one​ ​time,​ ​would​ ​have​ ​been​ ​enslaved​ ​by​ ​that​ ​very​ ​same​ ​country​ ​-​ ​it was​ ​a​ ​triumph​ ​of​ ​good​ ​over​ ​evil.​ ​​ ​And​ ​it​ ​felt​ ​necessary​ ​-​ ​to​ ​see​ ​a​ ​man​ ​who​ ​was still​ ​a​ ​second​ ​class​ ​citizen,​ ​to​ ​see​ ​him​ ​ascend​ ​to​ ​the​ ​highest​ ​office​ ​in​ ​the​ ​land.​ ​​ ​He​ ​could​ ​be pulled​ ​over​ ​for​ ​driving​ ​while​ ​black,​ ​eyed​ ​fervently​ ​from​ ​the​ ​counter​ ​of​ ​a​ ​convenience​ ​store,​ ​and​ ​he could​ ​be​ ​President.​ ​​ ​President​ ​Barack​ ​Obama​ ​would​ ​revolutionize​ ​the​ ​way​ ​that​ ​we​ ​view​ ​our people​ ​and​ ​ourselves.​ ​​ ​I​ ​would​ ​call​ ​any​ ​phone,​ ​knock​ ​on​ ​any​ ​door,​ ​drive​ ​in​ ​any​ ​neighborhood,​ ​go to​ ​any​ ​county.​ ​​ ​I​ ​cleared​ ​my​ ​schedule.

And​ ​on​ ​election​ ​night,​ ​the​ ​great​ ​fruit​ ​of​ ​this​ ​work​ ​was​ ​born​ ​in​ ​the​ ​form​ ​of​ ​a​ ​young​ ​democrat​ ​who hadn’t​ ​had​ ​the​ ​time​ ​to​ ​vote,​ ​who​ ​answered​ ​the​ ​door​ ​​20​ ​minutes​ ​before​ ​the​ ​polls closed.​ ​​ ​My​ ​friends​ ​and​ ​I​ ​ushered​ ​her​ ​into​ ​our​ ​car,​ ​“We’ll​ ​take​ ​you​ ​right​ ​to​ ​your​ ​polling​ ​place, okay?​ ​And​ ​drive​ ​you​ ​right​ ​back!”​ ​​ ​It​ ​helped​ ​that​ ​we​ ​were​ ​young​ ​women​ ​her​ ​age.​ ​​ ​I’ll​ ​never​ ​forget seeing​ ​her​ ​run​ ​in​to ​the​ ​polling​ ​place in her pajamas and raincoat, returning to us minutes later with an​ ​“I​ ​voted”​ ​sticker stuck to her lapel.

It​ ​is​ ​with​ ​great​ ​hope​ ​that​ ​I​ ​begin​ ​to​ ​clear​ ​my​ ​schedule​ ​in​ ​2018 for a reprisal of this moment.​ ​​ ​Inspired​ ​by​ ​the​ ​audacity​ ​of​ ​hope​ ​- that​ ​we​ ​can​ ​move​ ​towards​ ​a​ ​more​ ​equitable​ ​world​ ​of​ ​peace,​ ​environmental​ ​sustainability,​ ​and​ ​a healthy​ ​middle​ ​class,​ ​one​ ​vote​ ​at​ ​a​ ​time.​ ​President​ ​Obama​ ​continues​ ​to​ ​be​ ​a​ ​role​ ​model,​ ​an inspiration,​ ​a​ ​reason​ ​to​ ​believe​ ​in​ ​our​ ​democracy,​ ​a​ ​reason​ ​to​ ​believe​ ​in​ ​possibility​ ​but​ ​he​ ​is​ ​not at​ ​the​ ​helm.​ ​​ ​Dear​ ​citizens,​ ​we​ ​are​ ​the​ ​helm.