Project Wonderful

Monday, October 31, 2016

Election Word Etymology

This will not shock anyone who knows me in person or reads this blog regularly, but when it comes to words I am a big old nerd. I love grammar, I love linguistics and I love finding out where things come from. When my dad asked recently where the term vetting comes from, I couldn't concentrate on anything else until I found out. And once I started, why stop?

I realize we are eight days out from an election and this is complete fluff, but I am hoping if you're as big a nerd as I am you will find it interesting and kind of relaxing. Here we go:

Vetting-"To vet was originally a horse-racing term, referring to the requirement that a horse be checked for health and soundness by a veterinarian before being allowed to race. Thus, it has taken the general meaning 'to check.'"

Campaign-Early 17th century (denoting a tract of open country): from French campagne open country, via Italian from late Latin campania, from campus level ground (see camp). The change in sense arose from an army's practice of ‘taking the field’ (i.e. moving from a fortress or town to open country) at the onset of summer.

Ballot-mid 16th century (originally denoting a small colored ball placed in a container to register a vote): from Italian ballotta, diminutive of balla (see ball1).

Poll-from Middle Low German or Middle Dutch pol "head, top." Sense extended early 14c. to "person, individual." Meaning "collection of votes" is first recorded 1620s, from notion of "counting heads;" meaning "survey of public opinion" is first recorded 1902. Poll tax, literally "head tax," is from 1690s. Literal use in English tends toward the part of the head where the hair grows.

Candidate-c. 1600s, from Latin candidatus "one aspiring to office," originally "white-robed," past participle of candidare "to make white or bright," from candidus past participle of candere "to shine," from PIE root *kand- "to glow, to shine" (see candle). Office-seekers in ancient Rome wore white togas.

Map-early 16th century: from medieval Latin mappa mundi, literally ‘sheet of the world,’ from Latin mappa ‘sheet, napkin’ + mundi ‘of the world’ (genitive of mundus ).

Gerrymander-The word gerrymander (originally written Gerry-mander) was used for the first time in the Boston Gazette on 26 March 1812. The word was created in reaction to a redrawing of Massachusetts state senate election districts under Governor Elbridge Gerry (pronounced /ˈɡɛri/; 1744–1814). In 1812, Governor Gerry signed a bill that redistricted Massachusetts to benefit his Democratic-Republican Party. When mapped, one of the contorted districts in the Boston area was said to resemble the shape of a salamander.[1]

Caucus-"private meeting of party leaders," 1763, American English (New England), perhaps from an Algonquian word caucauasu "counselor, elder, adviser" in the dialect of Virginia, or from the Caucus Club of Boston, a 1760s social & political club whose name possibly derived from Modern Greek kaukos "drinking cup." Another old guess is caulker's (meeting) [Pickering, 1816], but OED finds this dismissable.

Canvass-Early 16th century (in the sense toss in a canvas sheet (as a sport or punishment)): from canvas. Later extended senses include criticize, discuss (mid 16th century) and propose for discussion; hence seek support for.

Vote-"formal expression of one's wish or choice with regard to a proposal, candidate, etc.," from Latin votum "a vow, wish, promise to a god, solemn pledge, dedication," noun use of neuter of votus, past participle of vovere "to promise, dedicate" (see vow (n.)). Meaning "totality of voters of a certain class or type" is from 1888.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

We Will Rise

And....your daily feel good to keep you going...

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Your Daily Cry

Sometimes it's easy to feel like we live in a cold, dark world where people don't care about voting, when you are begging and they don't seem to understand what's at stake or how hard people have fought for that right.

For those moments, I wanted to share two stories of people who went above and beyond to make sure their vote counted in this historic election, both of which left me in tears. (Although to be fair I cried watching Brave so...) My spirit is more than renewed to chase down my own absentee ballot on Monday.

First a man who was about to plead guilty to a felony and, realizing he might be about to lose the right to do so forever, asked the judge if he could vote first. I will save my soapbox about the vast racist conspiracy that disenfranchises felons for another time. Read his story with tissues unless you have an iron heart.

And second, well I'll just tell you the title, "The Last Thing My Mother Did Before She Died Was Vote for Hillary Clinton" and can I say hat tip to women's magazines like Glamour and Cosmo that have been covering more and more of these type of stories that affect women's lives.

Brb. Sobbing.

Campaign Love and Mine,


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Vote No on Lawn Signs

This no on lawn signs "campaign site" is incredibly well done.
Thanks for submitting whoever did this. Can your girl @CampaignSick get a free pin?

Voting While Trans*

These are the things I wind up wondering about when I have not had my coffee. How would a trans* person vote in a state with strict voter ID and also anti-trans laws? (And no surprise those seem to go hand in hand). Thanks to my amazing LGBT Facebook network, I got an answer pretty quick! It's not a perfect solution but it's good to know there are resources out there. If you or someone you know is in need of this information, visit .

So....what are ya hearin'?

Everyone knows that the ability to report timely, relevant information on election day is important for being able to redirect resources and put out fires like late-opening poll locations and illegal voter suppression. However then there is a whooooooole mess of other information that gets reported. "Don't worry, 3 people gave me thumbs up as I was waving her sign outside the library, so I think we got this." I am clearly not the only one to notice this phenomenon and thanks to my buddy JLev, I have been introduced to WhatAreYaHearin'.com a site dedicated to generating all the useless, irrelevant intel you could ever need!


Google Where To Vote

If you Google "Who's on my ballot" or "where to vote" you will find the above! (Don't try to find me there, I used the address of my childhood home as an example.) Kind of hard to believe that this is new, but I am all about anything that makes it as convenient to vote as possible. A little disappointed that they don't know my polling place yet though...

From there article on USAToday where I heard about this:

"We are committed to giving people timely and comprehensive information about the voting process so they can better participate in the election and have their voices heard in November," said Jacob Schonberg, a product manager on Google's politics and elections team.

Google is responding to popular demand. Search interest for "who is on my ballot" is up 137% compared to this point in 2012, while "where is my polling place" is up 379% and "polling place" is up 216%.

Keep on voting in the free world,


Let's Get Deep (Canvass)

(Note: This video was part of a different, similar experiment from the Los Angeles LGBT Center)

This is MUCH appreciated guest post from Amanda McLain-Snipes, an LGBTQ movement operative working at the Equality Federation, providing direct support to our members in creating successful, targeted issue education campaigns. She is based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The history of studying this kind of canvass is a little fraught, but results could have great implications for how we do field.

We all know the drill. Knock all the doors. Make all the phone calls. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. What if I told you that each of your conversations with a voter would take about 12 minutes?

Yep. 12 minutes.

Let’s dive in and talk about deep canvassing. This summer the Equality Federation, Freedom for All Americans, and the Movement Advancement Project partnered on a research project to decrease bias toward the transgender community, particularly in restrooms. You read that correctly. We spent our summer researching why people are uncomfortable going to the same potty as transgender folks. And let me tell you, what we found was very interesting. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Let’s start from the beginning. At the end of May this year, about 30 operatives gathered at the Rush Center in Atlanta, GA hosted by the Georgia Equality team (thanks for all the snacks!) to train on the latest messaging best practices, volunteer recruitment tactics, and field strategies to kick off our Summer of Action. The project brought in teams from Atlanta, GA, Jacksonville, FL, Scottsdale, AZ, and Cleveland, OH. We were nothing if not ambitious.

One month later our “Summer of Action” teams on-site would be doing their first practice canvass. That means from our time in Atlanta to the week of June 20th, they had exactly four weeks to recruit and train volunteers to knock on doors in the communities they call home and discuss the experience of transgender people. Why? We want to know which methods have the best impact - long or short conversations? Over the phone or at the door?

Wait, what is this about phones? After practicing and recruiting for a few more weeks, our teams went live and started collecting door data across all 4 sites in the middle of July. Then, in August, we ran the experiment again, but this time on the phone. Yep, long form conversations sharing our stories over the phone with voters.

So let’s dive into what these conversations looked like 1 on 1. Right out of the gate, we would get a person’s rating on the issue, after getting an initial ranking and establishing a rapport, our canvasser would show a video - one that our opponents used in a previous campaign. The intention is to trigger the worst of the voter’s potential concerns. We would then have an in-depth conversation, probing fears, asking questions to explore their thoughts and fears. By actively listening and engaging with the voters, we would get to the heart of what was driving their concerns. This is where deep canvassing breaks from traditional outreach. We asked lots of questions and spent a substantial part of the conversation listening to the voter. After exploring any concerns, the canvasser directly addressed their worries, showed a video from our side, and asked for a reaction. Finally, we wrapped up the conversation with one more rating and ended the interaction.

That’s a lot to digest and we’re still combing through our findings. Clearly, the potential implications are high - we will learn how to target our conversations to have maximum impact on the people we need to reach to protect our transgender friends and neighbors from prejudice. Beyond the scientific findings of this project, there are immense implications for the organizing community. You do not build a deep canvass project overnight. We essentially built a small congressional scale campaign across 4 states (no director lived in the same state as a site) and had “election day” within 90 days. Programs like this require rigorous trainings (an avg. training was 1.5 hours), extensive actions (a shift was about 5 hours), and substantial volunteer recruitment efforts (our teams did VRPBs at least 3 nights a week) --- plus a leadership development program to put volunteers in positions to train and run actions as the scale increases (we would often tack a leadership development training onto a phone bank). Keep in mind - there was no proposition on the ballot in any of the places we did this work. That means our teams felt the urgency of the work and our volunteers were motivated by the desire to make every day life better for trans and gender nonconforming folks --- not by a call to action using election day as the prime motivator. By including folks on the ground to the research work undertaken by our movement, our communities are informing the national strategy to win equality in the communities we call home.

The juice of a deep canvass project is to move the voter to a vulnerable place where they can critically reflect on their own views and experiences of the issue --- without feeling personally judged by the canvasser. That’s a hard needle to thread. But our preliminary findings show that once we get someone to come with us who is affected by the conversation, they stay with us in the face of our opposition's strongest messages. Their support is durable. This opens up a world of whole new timelines and tactics for issue campaigns. While many groups from racial justice to gun safety to reproductive rights are working on policy change - effectiveness of the deep canvassing tactic was only publically shown for the LGBTQ movement - from reducing prejudice toward the transgender community to opening minds about the freedom to marry.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

And The Winner Is..... I HELP IN MY OWN WAY

I gotta say, I'm surprised. In a matchup between "I'm not political" and "I help in my own way" "I help in my own way" took it with 69% (heh) percent of the vote! I would have picked "I'm not political" but you guys are the boss.

I think what makes "I help in my own way" so frustrating is that it allows the speaker to retain the smug sense of satisfaction that they have contributed without actually doing anything at all. A sentence I find myself saying a lot this cycle is "I'm not here to assuage your guilt" and that's really applicable here. Look, not everyone is going to volunteer and that's okay, but you have to own that. You don't get to pretend to either me or yourself that you've done the civic duty being asked of you without doing it. Because there are people who do it and that sense of pride should be reserved for them.

It also implies that you know better than me. Like I may think knocking doors and registering voters is the right way to help, but it's actually sharing memes on your Facebook wall populated by people who already agree with you, my B.

We'll tackle "I'm not political" a different day.

Thanks so much for participating! Did you like this? Should we do another one? Comment below.

Until then Campaign Love and Mine,


Disney Princess Electoral Maps

Two things I love. Absurdly combined. Don't overthink it.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

My Three Favorite TV Spots of The Cycle

What are yours?

Pantsuit Flash Mob


You all know that usually this is exactly the type of thing I'd call bullshit. Dancing in one of the bluest cities in America? Why don't you go knock doors. However, as I pointed out in a recent blog post this election is starting to feel bereft of fun. What I like about this piece, besides the awesome choreography, is the intention behind it. Read below from WaPo:
“I wanted to bring some kind of humanity to her campaign, because I think humanity and love and humor tend to get lost when we’re in the heat of all of this,” says Celia Rowlson-Hall, 32, a New York-based choreographer who’s worked on HBO’s “Girls” and other TV shows and music videos. She and her Washington, D.C.-based friend, hiphop choreographer Crishon Landers, created the pantsuit dance, and Rowlson-Hall directed the video with her partner, Mia Lidofsky, an independent film producer. The couple met on the set of “Girls.”

“We just felt the need to do something,” Rowlson-Hall says. “We thought, how can we creatively impact this election? So we made the video.”

There’s nothing like dance to convey enthusiasm and energy, so it’s a natural political tool. The fact that it’s rarely used to rally voters–and even more rarely used so well–is what makes this video feel so fresh. That, and the clarity of the choreography, the invigorating spirit and skill of the video’s massive chorus line, and the catchy tune.

Might I suggest a 5 minute campaign office dance party?

Campaign Love and Mine,


Field Staff Bracketology: The Final Matchup

Great job, you guys! I've got to agree one of these has to be the most annoying sentence in the history of the campaign universe. But which one is it? Vote now!

Make Elections Great Again

Let me start with the obvious: I love elections. I love nearly everything about them. I love the buzz of energy at a GOTV staging location, a perfectly cut walk list and a well-designed lit piece. I love the sense of patriotism that they invoke; for a few brief, shining moments our entire country is engaged in a national conversation about what we want it to mean to be American. I love empowering people and helping them believe they have a true stake in our democracy. I love that no matter how much money gets spent and how far, for better and worse, we have strayed from the electoral vision of our founding fathers, it can still come down to neighbors talking to neighbors. As much as I make fun of candidates, a good one can inspire an earnestness in people that is long since dormant in most adults.

And of course, there are election people. I love the people. If you made a pie chart of everyone new who has impacted my heart post-college, the non-campaign-person sliver would be infinitesimal. Campaign people are the funniest people in the world. They are among the most determined and the most loyal. I love our shared commitment, our intensity, and our dichotomy of cynicism and belief that we can make the world a better place. My colleagues make me love-to-hate even the least desirable aspects of election work: the hours, the stress, the peripatetic lifestyle. I have on more than one occasion been moved to tears just thinking about how lucky I am to have these people and this industry in my life.

With all that said: I. hate. this. election.

At first I thought it was just me. I love the work/life balance afforded me by doing electoral work at a non-profit, but I miss being out in field desperately. I miss the pace, the sense of urgency, and of course the people. Campaigns have become such a part of my identity that being removed from them pains me. The fact that this election season is going forward without me is damaging to my sense of pride. I feel like all my friends are hanging out without me. There's a reason this blog is called CampaignSick; I am homesick for campaigns.

But it turns out it's not just me. My friends, be they in the field, at consulting firms, or at independent politically oriented organizations are by and large finding this election joyless. When voters tell us they are sick of talking about the election, for the first time ever our reaction is "you're tellin' me."

Pundits and anti-Hillary stalwarts will point to an "enthusiasm gap," but I don't think that's it or at least not entirely. I will say the lies and stereotypes originally invented by the right and gleefully propagated by performative progressives during the primary have not helped matters. With friends like these as they say. A lot of ire was expended unnecessarily on the part of Clinton and Sanders supporters alike before we even got to the main event. Still, the party went through a fairly contentious primary in 2008 and went on to wage a general election campaign that was quite literally defined by hope and enthusiasm. not that.

Of course Clinton is not as charismatic as her husband or as Obama, at least not in the same way, but I don't think that's it either. She is, after all the most qualified candidate ever to run for the office and, oh yeah the first woman to get this far in the process.

Remember the good old days when Mitt Romney seemed racist? When we couldn't believe anyone would re-elect George W Bush? Those days are well behind us. The Republican party's nomination of Donald Trump, a man who looks and behaves like a villainaire in a 90's movie, whose campaign and persona are sexist, racist, xeno and islamaphobic and an affront to our national values, has changed the very nature of the conversation. With Clinton as our nominee, misogyny was to be anticipated but this is a whole 'nother level. And bear in mind I started writing this post before this weekend's "groping" tape was released. It is common for Democrats to accuse the Republican nominee of not understanding the lives of racial and religious minorities, but rarely has he so intentionally and gleefully insulted them.

Clinton has not had the opportunity to show off her policy prowess because she is too busy saying, we are all too busy saying, "Can you believe this guy?" The prospect of a John McCain or Mitt Romney presidency had me disappointed, anxious, worried about my rights, but never flat-out terrified for the very fabric of society. Donald Trump has created a state of national emergency such that even for Hillary's ardent admirers, and I count myself among them, the conversation is not about electing this extraordinarily qualified glass-ceiling-shattering woman, nor empowering would-be voters in the act of doing so, it's about stopping Donald Trump. There is no room for electoral joy here, only fear.

Brian Beutler sums it up in a piece titled "There is Only One Message for Voters to Send In This Election"

Do you want children growing up in a country where white supremacy has been re-normalized? Where misogyny doesn’t disqualify men for high office? Where erratic ignorance is placed in the running for the world’s highest award? Or would you rather send a message that if a major party nominates a fascist to be president of the United States—someone whose very character threatens national and global stability—the overwhelming majority of the country will flock to the candidate standing between him and the White House, and he will be left with the

Look, I get that of all the things threatened by Donald Trump's nomination, the relative fun-ness of our careers ranks very low on the list, but there is a dark, palpable shadow over this election season and I've been trying to figure out why. I think it's going to be up to us to find the joy over these last 30 days. So if you have something fun, inspiring, or exciting submit it! Let's Make Elections Great Again!

Campaign Love and Mine,


Thursday, October 6, 2016

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Must Watch, SNL's Presidential Debate Cold Open

Finally, something that made me laugh and not also cry this election season. This is so, so well done.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Voter Vox

Thanks to Bitch Media for pointing out VoterVox a tool to connect non-English speakers with non-partisan volunteer translators who can help them understand and fill out their ballot. Due to the Voting Rights Act, authorities are required to provide ballots in a language the voter can understand BUT local governments are not required to do so if the linguistic minority does not meet a certain threshold of the jurisdiction's population. In addition, many non-native English speaking voters are not aware of their right to have a translator present, or can be bullied out of it. The VoterVox system, though far from perfect, the program is a step in the right direction and crucial. Consider the following:

“Basically in almost every poll in every jurisdiction, Asian Americans have a lower voter turnout rate than any other racial group,” says Cayden Mak, the Chief Technology Officer of 18 Million Rising, a group that promotes civic engagement among the 18 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. According to 18 Million Rising, only 55 percent of Asian Americans are registered to vote—and a big hurdle to increasing that number is language. According to the census, the largest Asian and Pacific Island language groups in the United States are Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, Vietnamese and Hindi. But a full 1.2 million Asian Americans didn’t even see their native language listed on the census. About one-third of all Asian Americans are limited-English proficient, meaning that they have some difficulty communicating in English. Getting ballots translated from English into their native languages has proven difficult at best.

I know been posting a lot of short-share posts lately and that is because I am in a desperate frenzy to share information with you during this busy time of year. If you have a technology, story, or something else important that you think needs sharing please feel free to send it to

CLAM <3,


Saturday, October 1, 2016

Today In Voter Suppression: Bring Back Preclearance

When I first wrote about the Supreme Court's decision in Shelby v. Holder I wrote, "The Supreme Court must uphold Section 5 and identify this challenge for what it is: the latest in a long line of Republican attempts to rewrite the rules of a game they are losing." The Court did not uphold Section 5 and now we are seeing the results.

This excellent New York Times piece starts out in Sparta, Georgia telling the terrifying but true story of law enforcement tracking down citizens to challenge their right to vote.

When the deputy sheriff’s patrol cruiser pulled up beside him as he walked down Broad Street at sunset last August, Martee Flournoy, a 32-year-old black man, was both confused and rattled. He had reason: In this corner of rural Georgia, African-Americans are arrested at a rate far higher than that of whites.

But the deputy had not come to arrest Mr. Flournoy. Rather, he had come to challenge Mr. Flournoy’s right to vote.

The majority-white Hancock County Board of Elections and Registration was systematically questioning the registrations of more than 180 black Sparta citizens — a fifth of the city’s registered voters — by dispatching deputies with summonses commanding them to appear in person to prove their residence or lose their voting rights. “When I read that letter, I was kind of nervous,” Mr. Flournoy said in an interview. “I didn’t know what to do.”

The board of election claimed that these actions were taken to protect the sanctity of the process, not as form of voter suppression, but the facts tell a different story.

By October, a month before the city election, the board and a private citizen who appears to have worked with its white members had challenged the legality of 187 registered voters in Sparta. The board removed 53 of them, virtually all African-Americans — roughly one of every 20 voters. As a “courtesy,” court papers state, county sheriff’s deputies served summonses on the targeted voters, commanding them to defend themselves at election board meetings.

Some did, and were restored to the rolls. Others reacted differently to a police officer’s knock on their door.

“A lot of voters are actually calling to say they no longer wish to be on the list, so now we have people coming off the list who no longer want to vote,” Tiffany Medlock, the elections supervisor for the Hancock County elections board, told a Macon television reporter in late September. “It’ll probably affect the City of Sparta’s election in a major way.”

What does this have to do with Shelby? As the Times points out:

[T]he purge of Sparta voters is precisely the sort of electoral maneuver that once would have needed Justice Department approval before it could be put in effect. In Georgia and all or part of 14 other states, the 1965 Voting Rights Act required jurisdictions with histories of voter discrimination to receive so-called preclearance before changing the way voter registration and elections were conducted.

Three years ago, the Supreme Court declared the preclearance mandate unconstitutional, saying the blatant discrimination it was meant to prevent was largely a thing of the past.

But since the Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 ruling in the voting-rights case, Shelby County v. Holder, critics argue, the blatant efforts to keep minorities from voting have been supplanted by a blizzard of more subtle changes. Most conspicuous have been state efforts like voter ID laws or cutbacks in early voting periods, which critics say disproportionately affect minorities and the poor. Less apparent, but often just as contentious, have been numerous voting changes enacted in counties and towns across the South and elsewhere around the country.

The article then goes on to point out similarly tragic and avoidable racially motivated voter suppression schemes in other parts of the country previously covered by the preclearance statute.

They appear as Republican legislatures and election officials in the South and elsewhere have imposed statewide restrictions on voting that could depress turnout by minorities and other Democrat-leaning groups in a crucial presidential election year. Georgia and North Carolina, two states whose campaigns against so-called voter fraud have been cast by critics as aimed at black voters, could both be contested states in autumn’s presidential election.

The local voting changes have often gone unnoticed and unchallenged. A June survey by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund found that governments in six former preclearance states have closed registration or polling places, making it harder for minorities to vote. Local jurisdictions in six more redrew districts or changed election rules in ways that diluted minorities’ votes.

Alabama moved last year to close 31 driver’s license offices, almost all in rural areas with large African-American populations, as a cost-saving measure. After lawsuit threats and complaints that the closings would severely curtail local voter registration, the state chose to open the offices at least one day a month. Gov. Robert J. Bentley, a Republican, has strongly denied that the closings were racially motivated.

In Hernando County, Fla.; Cleveland and Watauga Counties in North Carolina; Baldwin County, Ala.; and elsewhere, elections officials eliminated or moved polling places in largely minority districts; a state court overturned the Watauga County closure.

The Republican majority in North Carolina’s General Assembly redrew the political districts last year in Wake County, whose main city is Raleigh, concentrating black voters in the city center into a single voting district. (A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that map unconstitutional.) In Pasadena, Tex., officials eliminated two District Council seats in largely Hispanic areas in 2014 and replaced them with at-large seats chosen largely by white voters. Hispanic voters have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to undo the change.

In Macon-Bibb County, Ga., in February, the elections board moved a polling place in a predominantly black neighborhood from a gymnasium that was being renovated to the county sheriff’s office. Officials changed the location to a church after a petition drive legally forced a reversal.

It isn't difficult to make the connection between the recent wave of police violence toward black people with the criminalization of black people voting. This is voter suppression and racial injustice at its most base. Would you register to vote if you knew that it might result in the police at your door, even though you didn't do anything? If you lived in an environment where police shot people like you for driving, walking, and shopping? Preclearance needs to be reinstated and our country needs a good long look in the mirror.

Some Points About Hillary Clinton Being "Sick," From the Point of View Of Sick Person

I know, I know is my hot take machine broken? What's next for me to post about, "Eve Eats Apple?" As always happens as we round the bend into the electoral homestretch, the amount of stuff I want to write about expands inversely to the time in which I have to write it. Some of those posts have just gone by the wayside whereas others I still feel are worth addressing even though they are (thank God in this case) past their moment in the sun. For those who were taking their annual vacation under a rock that week, let me refresh your memories:

On September 11th, Hillary Clinton left early from a ceremony honoring victims of 9/11, saying she felt overheated. Breitbart "news" reported that Hillary had been rushed to the hospital after fainting which was (shockingly) not true. But video did show her faltering. Later her doctor reported that Sec. Clinton was suffering from pneumonia and was recovering nicely. This incident couldn't have come at a worse time since the Trump campaign has been pushing the narrative that Clinton was sick, weak, and frail. I'll let readers dissect the obvious misogyny of trying to insinuate that Hillary "lacks stamina" while I ask another question; what if Hillary were sick? So, what?

This story interested and angered me not only as a staunch Clinton supporter, and a Feminist, but as someone who has struggled with chronic illness her entire adult life. We have so much (important) conversation in the progressive community about destigmatizing mental illness (a charge that's been leveled at both major candidates with impunity) but what about physical? Somewhere in the heart of every "sick" person lies the fear and shame that we will be judged as incapable, as weak, or as lazy when in fact just the opposite is true. As many have now pointed out, Hillary Clinton should be commended for attending this ceremony despite a temporary physical ailment; It shows her commitment and her fortitude. Even as one who greatly admires Secretary Clinton, as a sick person I couldn't help but think, "I hope Hillary Clinton is sick. I hope she becomes an excellent President and it changes the way we think about illness."

After all, what does "sick" mean anyway? It seems clear that the Trump campaign was hoping to imply, if not discover, something more lasting and insidious than pneumonia. Exactly what physical ailment would have disqualified Clinton from executing the office of the Presidency? We now know that FDR was in a wheelchair, LBJ had heart problems, and JFK had Addison's Disease. Even my boy, Teddy Roosevelt, suffered from Asthma. And of course, no one could watch this story unfold without wondering, "Have you people even seen The West Wing?" All of these Presidents, both real and fictional, were exceptional leaders who, despite their obvious fitness for the job, strove to hide their physical ailments from the public. Why?

Well in Clinton's case it may have something to do with the fact that she knew she might be criticized just for having a real human body. After all this is a woman who has been pilloried for preparing for a debate, accused of corruption for using her connections to combat childhood AIDS, and lampooned as morally bankrupt for having been cheated ON. As a woman, she is socialized not to complain about physical discomfort perhaps because she is less likely to be believed if she does. Obvious and pervasive misogyny aside, I think there is another reason why Clinton was vulnerable to this line of attack. Despite the fact that about half of American adults suffer from some form of chronic illness, and the despite the vast body of evidence to the contrary, we still labor under the misperception that sickness equals weakness, not just a physical failure, but a moral one. My many colleagues who have campaigned with anything from the sniffles to a burgeoning cancer diagnosis can tell you that that is anything but the truth.

As we move further and further into an age of forced full disclosure, we need to reexamine what exactly is shameful to disclosure. To what standards do we hold our leaders that we don't hold ourselves and why? What are we reinforcing by doing so? I think the scariest thing about our leaders being sick is the idea that they are vulnerable and the scariest thing about that is that it means we are too. When we tell our children they can grow up to be anything, imperfect should be included, particularly when it comes to forces irrelevant to the task and beyond their control. Think about what message we send when "sick" is not a concern but an accusation we level at a candidate.

Advocate From Where You Stand: Guac The Vote

Okay, yes I know this is old news. I've been busy you know, running an IE and doing all the things one does in September of an election year (except apple picking. Stop raining, DC!) However, I couldn't let this moment in history go by without documenting it for posterity on the blog, particularly because it involves such a delicious pun.

In case you were taking one of those self-announced Facebook hiatuses and missed "Latinos for Trump" (which is like Icebergs for Global Warming) founder Marco Gutierrez's now iconic quote, here's what went down:

“My culture is a very dominant culture,” the Mexican-born Marco Gutierrez said on MSNBC’s “All In With Chris Hayes.” “It is imposing and it’s causing problems. If you don’t do something about it, you’re going to have taco trucks on every corner.”

*The Internet* was quick to point out that this sounds like the opposite of a problem and quickly dubbed election day "Taco Tuesday." Even more ingenious however, was the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's decision to take the ball and run with it by creating a fleet of mobile voter reg centers/taco trucks. According to Remezcla operation "Guac the Vote" is working with over 200 chambers of commerce/business associations to make this dream a reality. One such effort has been particularly popular in Houston thanks to local resident Thomas Hull and Mi Familia Vota.

I love voter registration. I love a good pun and I love a good taco. I'll take mine with a side of saving the country from white supremacy.

"I'm a Pillar of My Community"

Hat tip to my friend Lee who sent me this story about a death metal artist forced to serve on local government against his will. It sounds like something from the mind of a first-year MFA creative writing student, but it's all too real.

It started last year, when Norway’s Liberal Party recruited Nagell to run for a backup town council seat.

“I said yeah, thinking I would be like 18th on the list and I wouldn’t really have to do anything,” Nagell told the music site CLRVYNT.

As election season approached, however, Nagell sensed he might actually have a chance at winning. So he did what anyone in his position might and set out to sabotage his bid.

“My campaign was a picture of me holding my cat saying, ‘Please don’t vote for me,’ ” he told CLRVYNT....

They did anyway.

Apparently charmed by his lack of enthusiasm for the office, Kolbotn residents voted for him overwhelmingly.

“People just went nuts,” said Nagell, who now serves as an alternate representative on the council for the town of 9,000.

“I’m not too pleased about it. It’s boring,” he said. “There’s not a lot of money in that, either, I can tell you.”

I'm not sure if it says more about me or the state of politics that this "funny" post made me kind of sad. Our own country's Presidential election has made it clear that a candidate doing everything possible to turn off voters is actually somehow attractive because that's how much people like or trust the "establish" that indifference or even contempt is somehow considered admirable. But also, you know, death metal and a cat.

Bracketology, Round III

I have to say you guys had me worried about your judgement for a second, but we are back on track and in our 2nd to last round of Field Staff Bracketology. And your final four are...

Being told that field doesn't work vs. "I'm not political"


People who don't mute themselves on conference calls vs. "I help in my own way"

Make your voice heard!

You know what they say...if you don't vote, you can't complain!

Campaign Love and Mine (Can you believe its October??),


Now Read This

Avital Nathman takes down election season "can't we all just get along" marketing in a way that almost perfectly captures my sentiments. I have nothing to add.