June 22, 2016
By Andrea Dew Steele
President and Founder, Emerge America
As the President of an organization dedicated to recruiting Democratic women to run for office, I was thrilled to hear Senator Sanders talk about the importance of getting more people interested in running for office at the state and local level during his speech last week.
“I hope very much that many of you listening tonight are prepared to engage at that level. Please go to my website at berniesanders.com/win to learn more about how you can effectively run for office or get involved in politics at the local or state level. I have no doubt that with the energy and enthusiasm our campaign has shown that we can win significant numbers of local and state elections if people are prepared to become involved. I also hope people will give serious thought to running for statewide offices and the U.S. Congress.”
Understandably, his remarks did not get the attention they deserved because of the devastating events in Orlando. However, what Senator Sanders said was nothing short of historic. He could truly change this country if he follows up his words with tangible support and guidance.
So, Senator Sanders, I say to you this:
You have started the conversation. You have done the critical first thing. You have asked them to think about running. You have placed the seed in their mind. There are many women—particularly young women—who support you and look to you as a leader. After your comments, they may now think that running for office is something they should consider.
But it’s just the start, if you’re truly committed to this goal. Next, you have to personally reach out. Have a conversation with them. Meet them where they live and see what skills they have.
Direct them to an organization like ours. Partner. We have Emerge affiliates in 16 states, including your home state of Vermont where we are having tremendous success getting women running at every level. Training is a critical element of getting great people in office.
Tell them that there are 520,000 public offices in this country and we need great people serving in each one of them. I would bet that most of your supporters don’t even know how they can serve.
This could be YOUR revolution and a lasting legacy. I hope that one line in your speech is the beginning of something great.