It’s what we’ve got left. Twelve days until election day here in Virginia, and it certainly feels like it. The days are twenty-plus hours long; it’s why I’m writing this in the few minutes I find free, which end up being at about one o’clock in the morning. There’s always more to do- and never enough time to do it.
Folks are noticing our hard work, though; noticing the volunteers not just from our district, but from across the state, who come help us. I got asked by Ralph Northam to be the hype man for a couple of canvasses for the coordinated campaign, getting our volunteers fired up. Justin Fairfax knew intimate details about our ground game. Mark Herring told our staffers they were working for a “damn good man”. Tom Perriello, his mom Linda, and Linda’s delicious cookies have enthusiastically gone to bat for us. Khizr Khan apparently already voted for me. The PCCC endorsed us and started helping us fundraise. Chris Jansing and MSNBC did a profile on our race. Planned Parenthood of Virginia watched our birth control video, listened to the verbal smackdown I gave my opponent about women’s issues at our last debate (to roaring applause), and said they’d do whatever they could to support our race. A couple candidates running for the 5th Congressional District race canceled their plans to come see me speak.
It’s an incredibly surreal thing, not to mention an honor beyond all belief- and those hits just keep coming. I can’t even process it appropriately, to be honest. All I do is go out and unapologetically tell folks what think, and how I feel. That I want to fight for them, first and foremost- it’s why our motto is “People before Party”. There’s nothing special about it, or me- I’m just a dad. A husband. An ER Nurse who watched so many people hurting while the folks in charge of the general assembly building did nothing, and refused to sit by and watch it go on a single second longer.
Which brings me to the title of my article. Something happened this weekend that stuck with me a bit; ER Nurses and politicians are supposed to have thick skin, let things roll off us, and they generally do. It’s been pretty easy most times- the flak we’ve gotten has been so laughably off-base that it’s hilariously easy to ignore.
Last Saturday, one of our canvassers, Ian, hit a door and spoke to a gentleman there, who was pretty receptive to our message. Ian got asked about fracking and the natural gas pipeline being proposed, which I’m against, and the voter said he’d check out our website. As Ian was leaving, this gentleman’s wife pulled up into the driveway in her car; so hellos were exchanged, and Ian handed her a palm card and started to engage her on our campaign.
She stopped him mid-sentence. “Oh, yeah,” she said, “I heard about that guy. I hate him.”
This took Ian aback, because her voice was thick with venom. He began to ask her what about me that she hated so much; my stance on single payer? Universal pre-K? The fight I got into with the VCDL (a Virginia based group that thinks the NRA is full of “liberals and cuckservatives”)? My support for affirmative action? Taking down Confederate statutes? What?
Much more simple than that. “He’s a Democrat,” she replied. “That’s all I need to know.”
I’m not surprised, really. People often hate things they don’t bother to- or want to- understand. Happens everywhere, and that attitude doesn’t discriminate by age, gender, political affiliation, religion, etc, etc.
But think about that- someone with no idea about who I am; someone who has, what? Read a few electronic words about me at most, I would imagine. They don’t know anything about me; nothing about the thirty-two years I’ve been on this planet. About what I stand for. What I’m fighting for. What I’ve been through, done, experienced. The people I’ve helped in the ER. When I was in Pediatric Acute Care. Having to take my daughter to class to be able to graduate from college.
I dunno, I guess it just takes a lot of energy for me to hate anything; the antithesis of love is apathy, not hate. Someone not liking my stance on an issue, and not wanting to vote for me or not liking me based on that? To be expected, clearly. Without a doubt. But hate, so much so it consumes you, drives your actions?
I was just perplexed by why someone would spend so much time and energy on hating me, of all things, when the old saying of a famous philosopher came to mind: fear leads to anger; and anger leads to hate.
They’re afraid. And it’s not really me they’re afraid of; like I said, the only thing special about me is that I’m a dad and a husband. No, what they’re afraid of is what I represent.
What do I represent? A vociferous argument for single-payer so biting and honest it makes the chairman of the Virginia GOP destroy and cancel the media parade he’d planned to undertake to mock us for fighting for it.
An excoriation of hyperpartisanship so on point that a sitting Tea Party congressman and bully would rather block me on Twitter than have to answer for it any more.
A breed of progressive that’s unafraid to go out and fight for the values we hold, unapologetically and without compromise, and can relate those values to people’s lives. To focus on how those values make sense for them. For their lives. And who isn’t afraid to stand up and fight for everyone.
That’s why they hate; it’s not me at all, it’s the progressive planks we stand up for. Because they’re afraid. The entire Trump Presidency is built on a principle of “STIGGINIT”; his sole guiding principle is making people hen doesn’t like upset. And the Republican Party of Virginia has built their strategy this year on us doing it right back for them; offering up no message other than “TRUMP IS BAD”- which is why they’re panicked.
Because they’ve found out that’s not what our campaign is about; we’re not about reflexive opposition. We’re about fighting for every Virginian. Standing up for them. Articulating a positive future for our Commonwealth, with policies that’ll improve their lives– putting food on the table for their family, strengthening our public schools, and bringing accountability back to our legislature. To help working Virginia families not just survive, but thrive.
And we have a group of strong and principled candidates and incumbents this year- not just in our district, but across the entire Commonwealth who are unapologetic and tireless about fighting- who do the 20+ hour days, who sacrifice time with their families, who give up a year or more of their lives in dedication to serve the folks in their district.
And we’re not going to rest, we’re not going to stop, until we give the people in our districts a government they deserve. Legislators who work just as hard as they do, day in and day out. Who listen to the people they’re serving, instead of special interest groups and lobbyists.
We can do that- with your help. No matter where you live, you can join us. Chip in– our campaign was build $10, $27, $58 dollars at a time. Volunteer– we have volunteers from all over the state who have come to help us in this final push, but you can phone bank, get the word out!
We can get this done- and we WILL.
Kellen Squire is an emergency department nurse in Charlottesville, VA, running for the Virginia House of Delegates in the 58th District this fall. Donate to, volunteer for, or get the word out about our people-powered campaign, today!