As we evaluate Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office, there is much cause for alarm. From attacking our health care system to attempting to institute an unconstitutional “Muslim Ban” to appointing a Supreme Court justice who wants to take away women’s bodily autonomy, each new policy his administration promotes threatens our democracy and sets our country back further from the bright future so many of us have been working decades to build.
Watching the daily destruction of all that we as Democrats and progressives care about, I find myself clinging to the only silver lining I can find — the wave of Democratic women determined to take their communities and our country back.
Nearly 130 Emerge America alumnae have stepped forward and announced that they are running for office in 2017 in state and local races. That’s a woman for every day Trump has been in office plus 30 more. And we expect the number of Democratic women running for office to continue to grow with each day.
An even more hopeful sign of what is yet to come is that women are already winning elections in 2017. Every week it seems like we are greeted with the welcome news that a Democratic woman candidate has won her race and can use her position to help lead the resistance to Donald Trump.
Just this week, Emerge Massachusetts alumna Mehreen Butt was elected to the Wakefield Board of Selectmen, winning her seat in a crowded field of six people. The only person of color in the race, she is the first female Muslim-American selectman in Massachusetts and the third Muslim-American elected to office in the state.
This is another way to push back against his proposed Muslim Ban.
Emerge Colorado alumna Yolanda Avila pulled a huge upset in conservative Colorado Springs when she won her city council race, unseating an incumbent. A legally blind advocate for the disabled, Yolanda campaigned with her guide dog Puma by her side and won despite being heavily outspent in a three-way primary.
Yolanda is the very embodiment of every persistent woman: this was her second race after running for the city council after she lost her race for a seat two years ago.
This is how we can fight Trump’s racism towards our Hispanic populations and his bigotry towards people with disabilities.
Voters in Wisconsin also elected Emerge Wisconsin alumnae Paula Phillips to the Milwaukee Public School Board. The daughter of Filipino immigrants who taught her the value of public education and public service, Phillips ran for the Milwaukee School Board because she believes strong schools can be a safe haven and unlock a student’s potential.
After the election in November, Phillips was devastated, but running for office gave her agency at a time when she felt helpless.
This is how we let Betsy DeVos know that we understand school choice is just another word for defunding public education and we’re ready for a fight.
This is what the resistance looks like in Trump’s first 100 days. This is the silver lining that we must invest in and nurture if we hope to build it into a movement to take back our government. After the 2016 election Emerge America saw an 87 percent increase in applications to our program. And just this week, EMILY’s List reported that in 2017 they have already heard from 11,000 women who want to run for office next year. That’s up from only 900 who reached out during all of 2016. What an incredible increase in energy that we have the opportunity to build into a movement.
Even though the bulk of elections in our country are not set to take place until 2018, we can look to what’s happening in one of the two states that are holding elections for state legislature this year to take our nation’s temperature.
In Virginia, the recent flood of diverse, female candidates is on full display. More than half of the 76 candidates running to unseat Republican-held seats in the state legislature are women. Twenty-two of those women were trained by Emerge Virginia. In fact, this Saturday, the official end of Trump’s first 100 days, three Emerge Virginia alumnae and one man will face each other in a primary caucus to see who will secure the Democratic nomination to take on the Republican delegate in Virginia’s 73 District, an area that voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.
Wouldn’t it be great if all our races started to look like this — three women and one man? Think of the caliber of candidates we could get challenging every GOP-held seat if there were three women vying for the nomination in every race.
Last month in one of her first public speeches since she lost the presidential election, Hillary Clinton vowed to be present in public life and urged her supporters to “Resist, insist, persist, and enlist.”
Of all of those “-ists,” enlist is often the highest hurdle. According to a study done by the Women’s Donor Network, men are 49 percent of the population, but are 76 percent of Republican candidates and 67 percent of Democratic candidates. Women hold only 19 percent of congressional seats and only 24 percent of all state legislators are female.
So for all of you who are despondent as we approach the 100 day marker of Donald Trump’s presidency — there is a silver lining. We need to keep investing in the women who are rising to the occasion.
This is how we take back our country