Show Me The Money: The Fight For Funding And Accountability For Women\'s Rights

It’s finally chilly in the Northeast, and the sun goes down well before happy hour, so in other words, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. But if you’re anything like me, you may be struggling to summon the holiday spirit this year. Maybe it’s the spree of !-- react-text: 136 --"> or the near-hourly unmasking of another alleged serial !-- react-text: 139 --">; the !-- react-text: 142 --"> or the nuclear !-- react-text: 145 --"> with North Korea; the (so far just-shy-of-collusion) !-- react-text: 148 --"> of the Russia investigation or the never-ending Republican !-- react-text: 151 --"> to take health care away from the people who need it; or, maybe it’s simply the president’s unrelenting stream of !-- react-text: 154 --">, !-- react-text: 157 --">, !-- react-text: 160 --"> Tweets (now, twice as long!): All I know is, I’m finding it hard to feel very merry.

On my husband’s side of the family, where gift-giving has always seemed sacrosanct, we’re currently in talks to chuck a long-standing Secret Santa program in favor of donating to charity. Giving your money to a good cause is never a bad idea, and now there’s another one to give to: If you’ve ever had the thought, All I want for Christmas is for Congress to show Donald Trump the swinging door of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, you’d do well to learn about a new organization called !-- react-text: 168 --">.

“Wouldn’t your friends much rather have the gift of impeachment, than, say, a new pair of socks?” March On’s executive director, Vanessa Wruble, asks, laughing. When I last !-- react-text: 173 --"> with Wruble, it was late December of 2016, and she was knee deep in the day-to-day frenzy of helping to pull off the monumental feat that was the !-- react-text: 176 --">. Wruble was a cofounder of the national march and its director of campaign operations (she was also the person somewhat responsible for bringing three of the national cochairs—Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour, and Carmen Perez—into the fold, after organizing began organically on Facebook). In the months since !-- react-text: 179 --"> people took to the streets internationally to protest the inauguration of a !-- react-text: 182 --">, Mallory, Sarsour, Perez, and a handful of others (including colleagues Bob Bland, Paola Mendoza, and Sarah Sophie Flicker) have become synonymous with the Women’s March movement. They’ve held a !-- react-text: 185 --">, mounted a !-- react-text: 188 --">, led a !-- react-text: 191 --">, initiated a !-- react-text: 194 --">, put together an !-- react-text: 197 --">, and been named among em data-reactid="200"">>Glamour’s Women of the Year.

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But the Women’s March was never as centralized an operation as it may now seem: In reality, it was a diffuse network of homegrown, women-led resistance efforts that sprang up in solidarity in cities across the country (and across the world). In the aftermath of January 21, Wruble quietly set off on her own and turned her attention to those disparate march groups, helping to bring many of their organizers—and the resources and local know-how they command—into a national coalition, still women-led, now organized specifically around electoral politics. “The Women’s March right now”—as distinguished from March On—“is really focused on social and racial justice,” she tells me, “and we think that’s incredibly important work to be done. We’re very glad they’re doing it. . . . We think of ourselves as strategic partners, working in complementary ways.”

March On’s end goal is to harness the energy of the original marches—and Wruble’s reputation as one of the national effort’s key leaders—to, in the loosest sense of the word, “march” voters to the polls en masse in 2018 (and then again in 2020). “It will be carpools in some cases,” Wruble describes. “It will be rallies outside. It will just be the idea that we are all going together.” (For the record, they’re not the only ones looking to trade on the country’s newly revived affection for marching: Last February, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched a new !-- react-text: 210 --"> to target 20 Republican-held districts called March in ’18.)

The midterms are fast approaching, and in the meantime, there’s lots of work to be done: establishing what Wruble is calling “marching orders,” or the official March On platform, which will be decided, at least in large part, by a yet-to-launch national participatory poll (“everything flows from that model: what kind of candidates we decide to endorse, who we endorse in different races—it will be crowdsourced”); identifying elections—local, state, and national—where March On can unleash its cumulative people power to register voters, canvas, phone bank, and more; and raising money for the Fight Back PAC, the organization’s grassroots-funded Super PAC that will inject dollars into the races that matter most (among its priorities: flipping state legislatures so that Democrats control redistricting after the 2020 Census).

“Every single special interest has a PAC,” Wruble explains. “If the people need to become a special interest to have their voices heard, then that’s exactly what we’re going to do.” Andi Pringle, executive director of the money arm of the organization (and a veteran of Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign) breaks it down like this: “Winning elections is the car. What we are doing is building a car for the grassroots. We’re handing over the keys and letting them take the wheel. The funding is the gas. But we’re also asking them to participate in developing the road map.”

Got that? Though March On launched too soon before the recent Virginia election to make much of an impact, Wruble thinks the !-- react-text: 224 --"> from November 7 are instructive: Female voters were key in electing Ralph Northam to governor, and a slew of women, many of them first-time candidates, triumphed in their bids for seats in the state’s House of Delegates. “The women of America are pissed off,” she says, “and Virginia was the first example where we were able to really show that. Alabama is the next example.” Like the rest of the country, March On will turn next to December’s Senate special election, working on the ground with three partners—the NAACP, Beyond the Women’s March, and Flip Alabama—to oppose Republican Roy Moore, whose campaign for the seat vacated by now–Attorney General Jeff Sessions has somehow not yet been derailed by !-- react-text: 227 --">.

“This is where we’re so powerfully positioned,” Wruble observes. “Women will look at the Alabama election in a different light than men.” She may be right: As I’m reporting this piece, a message arrives in my inbox from March On (they have a list of about 500,000 emails, roughly 90 percent of which belong to women). It’s a request that I sign a petition demanding that Alabama governor Kay Ivey—a Republican, and also, it must be noted, a woman—not cave to party pressure to postpone the election. Within an hour or so, nearly 4,000 people had signed on.

Speaking of petitions, in late October, billionaire Democratic donor and progressive activist !-- react-text: 237 --"> bought millions of dollars of national television ads that labeled Trump a “clear and present danger, who is mentally unstable and armed with nuclear weapons,” called for his urgent impeachment, and directed concerned citizens to sign an online petition requesting the same. (He got more than 1.5 million signatures.) March On’s campaign is a bit more long-term and strategic: Should the findings of !-- react-text: 240 --">’s Russia inquiry prove damning, Congress must be in a position to act on his recommendation, and Wruble has little confidence in the current disposition of the Legislative Branch. “Taking a step back, look at Trump’s behavior,” Wruble says. “He’s been disrespectful to the Constitution, disrespectful to the rule of law; this past week, he !-- react-text: 243 --"> over his own U.S. Agencies regarding interference. [Editor’s note: He later !-- react-text: 246 --"> those comments back.] At this point, if we found out that Putin was Trump’s secret campaign manager—that’s a joke; let me be clear, I don’t think that’s true—this Congress still wouldn’t act. . . . So that’s why we need to focus on the big picture, which is flipping seats.”

Which brings us back to gift-giving and the most wonderful time of the year. March On’s first major fundraising campaign, which !-- react-text: 254 --">, is called $24 for 24, i.e., the number of seats Democrats must flip to take control of the House of Representatives, the legislative body empowered to initiate impeachment against the president.

March On's Ugly Christmas Sweater
March On’s ugly Christmas sweater

In honor of the holidays, for every $24 donation, March On will send your season’s greetings to the White House or Trump Tower in the form of a postcard that reads: “Merry Christmas! May the New Year bring tidings of joy throughout the land, brought about by a merciful end to your presidency.” If you care to make a bigger statement, $100 will buy you a bonus gift: an ugly Christmas sweater (or sweatshirt, to be more accurate), festooned with reindeer, Trump’s distinctive profile, an array of Matryoshka dolls, snowflakes (like the liberals who designed it), and the word “IMPEACH” emblazoned in all caps across the chest.

It’s highly unlikely, of course, that the president will tear himself away from Fox News or Twitter long enough to glance at these holiday cards (though, as Pringle observes, “all he needs to see is one”) and it’s even less likely that he’ll ever lay eyes on the sweatshirts (though Wruble, while we chat, is plotting to send one to Jimmy Kimmel, so who knows). But it will no doubt warm your heart—or the heart of your progressive-minded loved one—to spend the winter clad in a charmingly garish reminder that your dollars are fighting the good fight.

Here’s to the gifts that, with any luck, keep on giving.

Source : https://www.vogue.com/article/march-on-impeach-trump-vanessa-wruble

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