Have You Hugged a Candidate Today?

Don’t do anything illegal, but do find a way to thank people who run for elected office. Because they’re pretty rare – barely 2% of the population according to the Pew Research Center.

Sadly, we learn from the Pew report that of the 2% of Americans who run for office, 75% are men. So that is of course no help.

And, while women often win when they run for elected office, we are somewhat inexplicably stalled when it comes to overall increases in representation.

We are at 18.5 percent women in Congress currently (99/535) (20 percent in the Senate, and 18.2 percent in House, not including the delegates). To get to 20 percent (without rounding up), we’d have to reach 107 women across the two chambers (107/535). So we have to net eight women across both chambers to make it there. That seems doable based on the numbers, but it’s not a slam dunk because, again, women are in some of the most competitive contests. Even where we have very likely new women like in the House, we also have some vulnerable incumbent women that we are watching out for.

However, just within the last year, coverage of how that overlaps with being a woman of color is getting a lot of attention.

The challenges that all women face with fundraising, getting on their party’s radar, and convincing voters that they have the leadership chops are well known, but when it comes to black women, those hurdles are magnified.

It is a thankless thing to do – running for elected office at any level. There’s all kinds of suppositions about it, especially in and by the press, and I’ve often been heard to say that no one should be allowed to write about people running for office until they’ve done it themselves. I’m not sure what proportion of the American population write about people running for office, but it would be a lot smaller if we made them learn about it firsthand.

How many times have you said or heard others say, “I’d never run for office”? Well, guess what, that puts a lot of pressure on the people who do. So instead of taking out all your upsetment at the way things are going generally or specifically, consider taking even one minute, the next time you see, call or email an elected or someone who ran for office, and thank them for putting themselves out there. I did this last night with a slew of people running for office and again this morning on several people’s Facebook pages.

And if you just can’t bring yourself to do that because you can’t think of any elected or candidate you like? Then maybe you need to run for office yourself.

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