The work for 2024 starts now
March 5, 2020
After sitting with the heartbreak and feeling of loss of recent days, I believe the most impactful thing I can do — other than maintaining the weekly list — is to mentor the next generation of women leaders. I will be hosting Sunday Salons in my living room — the same space where we founded The New Agenda in 2008, and launched so many women into office since then. If you are interested, please read on.
The 2008 election was an awakening for our country to the sexism in our media and our culture. In reaction, a number of women’s organizations sprung up — The New Agenda , WomenCount and more — to combat the double-standards and bias women faced, to change the narratives, and to demand representation at every table. Underlying the work was creating an atmosphere where we would elect women presidents, and doing so would eventually seem unremarkable .
The work over years was impactful, and we celebrated years of gradual progress. By the time Hillary ran again in 2016, there was a widely-held belief that it was time for a woman president, and she was the best in the field and it would finally happen. We all know what happened next.
Then came the era of Trump.
The initial reaction from women was fierce! Along with our allies, we protested in the largest march in our country’s history, and over the next two years texted, called, knocked, post-carded, and donated to elect a record number not only of women — but diverse women — in the 2018 midterm elections.
But here’s the thing about authoritarianism: it wears you down. Women have disappeared from the table altogether, and a toxic brew of misogyny has resurfaced and become normalized. Trump has not only broken norms, but also our spirits. Authoritarianism, by design, makes us feel powerless, and in need of saving.
Unable to hold on the reality of what worked and we accomplished in 2018, as 2020 approached, the narrative had shifted. Trump as the “strong man” leader, made us believe that only a white male savior could rescue us. There was no evidence of this of course, but once narratives get written and repeated by our media, they are stubbornly intact — no matter how loudly those of us who shouted into the void of 2008 tried to do so again.
New narratives are going to need to be written, and awareness of how our culture has devolved identified and countered. This is the work of years, not months. The seeds for 2024 need to be planted now.
My heart is broken. My soul is weary. I am tired. No, I am exhausted.
There will need to be the next generation of women leaders to take us forward. My hopes is just like the women we elected in 2018, this groups will include the diversity — women of color, gay and bi and transgender women — that makes our country great. All must have a voice. All must see themselves in tomorrow’s leaders.
So what comes next?
I will be hosting Sunday Salons starting in April in my living room in Westchester County, New York. We will discuss a path forward. I will share what I have learned in this fight over the past 12 years, and assist however I can to empower the next leaders.
Please feel free to share this. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to attend.