George Goehl and Ai-jen Poo hours before their election road trip.
Some couples, in the days leading up to their wedding, are caught up in final preparations: a last-minute dance class, attending to a late RSVP, or doing some work on your vows. There are lots of details, but what matters most is the love you share.
We’re getting married on November 18, and there’s been plenty of attention to the details of the event. But 2016 is not an ordinary year. In many ways, our future hangs in the balance. So, as we finalize the arrangements, we are also hitting the road this morning to help with get out the vote and shine a light on the silver linings in this election.
We both lead social justice organizations. Ai-jen works to bring dignity and respect to domestic workers – the nannies, housekeepers and caregivers who care for the most precious elements of our lives so that we can work. George organizes working families around the country, from rural Iowa to El Barrio in New York City, for racial, economic and environmental justice and to find a voice and power in one another. We both spend a lot of time on the road, but in the final days of this election cycle we’re taking it to the extreme, visiting five states in five days.
We’re making the trip – a pre-wedding honeymoon, if you will – because in an election season dominated by hate and division it feels like we could all use a bit of hope and a lot of love. The people we work with every day have too much on the line. And the work they’re doing to make this democracy work and build a more loving country, especially in these final days before a historic election, is too important to go unseen.
In the next few days, we’ll hear a lot from the pundits about the polls and numbers, about swing states and safe states, about different demographic categories and who can tip the scales. What inevitably gets lost in the horserace is the story about the real people, especially people at the bottom of our economy and living on the margins, and the issues they care about. That’s why we’ll be talking with immigrants in Aurora, Colorado, students and Native Americans in Washoe County, Nevada, domestic workers in Dade County, Florida, formerly incarcerated people in Arizona, and working-class white people in New Hampshire.
Our country was founded on the promise of liberty and justice for ALL, but from the beginning we’ve fallen painfully short. At the same time, what has made this democracy great have been the social movements of everyday people – from the Freedom Riders to the Flint sit-down strikers -- that have reshaped and redefined what it means to be American in profound ways, and from a place of love.
In this contentious and fraught election cycle, we have found ourselves in a new defining moment. With unprecedented levels of inequality and major demographic shifts as our backdrop, we are asking ourselves those fundamental questions once again: Who belongs? What is the dignity we each deserve? How do we take care of our families and each other?
In the next six days, we’re going to do our best to tell the story of this election from the standpoint of the people you may never see on TV, but who are poised, in the best of American social movement traditions, to help us answer these questions, and bring us closer to our founding promise. Martin Luther King Jr. said we can be extremists for hate or extremists for love. Lately, the former have gotten far too much airtime. That’s why we’re going to uncover the love story that we believe is the future of American democracy. Then we’re going to get hitched.
Follow our journey here on OurFuture.org, and on social media using the hashtag #BestofUS2016.
Ai-jen Poo is the co-founder of the Domestic Worker Legacy Fund. George Goehl is the co-director of People’s Action.