Home > Uncategorized > When Lip Service Becomes The Enemy

When Lip Service Becomes The Enemy

Today, one of my biggest learnings came from two powerful women, Carli and Daisy, both from Shakti Riimg_5378-2sing–who shared a panel on civil discourse at the Conversations with Democrats. Having spent most of the morning and afternoon knocking on doors and hearing heavy stories from voters in district 35, it was refreshing to hear them speak to what I believe is missing from this discourse: a sentiment of the heart. A re-imagining of a different world where it’s not about the outcome but about the process of building community.
Full disclosure: a couple people walked out, I’m sad to say.
So much for civil discourse.
But it is true. So many people in the community have been left out of timg_6299-2he process of democracy. Instead, we have created a society that spends energy on transactional relations to build political capital versus spending the time deepening relationships in order to transform an entire community. Honestly, all it has gotten us is surrounding ourselves with super engaged folks and demeaning those who are not engaged.
Today’s experience at the doors was incredibly heavy on my heart because as I reflect on the day, I realize that, I too, have contributed to the numbers game and the outcome. In many cases, I have not lead with my heart.
Which brings me to the doors, where today I met with voters–in what’s becoming one of my favorite neighborhoods in Las Cruces, just east of Solano. Of the countless doors I knocked on today, there are three stories I want to share that proves this idea of how civil discourse has excluded people from the democratic process and not because they didn’t care to participate. We just didn’t invite them.

Frank
A good friend of mine joined me on today’s canvass and we split up the turf so that she was hitting the odds while I got the evens, and vice versa. At one of my homes, no one answered so I walked across the street to where she was, talking to someone at the door.
It was Frank.
Frank served time over 10 years ago, and now is unable to find work because of the felony that lives on his record. Meanwhile, he has not only acquired his bachelors degree but has gone on to attain an additional three associates degrees, is married with children, one of which is graduating High School with honors. He must be doing something right!
He’s frustrated.
While attaining a higher education and raising a family and trying to get his life together, he has managed to find the time to advocate for himself–searching for avenues to reach the Governor for a pardon but to no avail. Hold up! Don’t go blaming Susana right away. There are quite a few Dems who haven’t been much help to Frank either.
He is a taxpayer, a voter–someone who has clearly redeemed himself, and yet we as a society have told him, “you’re not welcome.”
What are we doing to welcome the Frank’s of the world–to this table of civil discourse?

Jeneen
Jeneen is a United States Veteran, who served her time in the service and returned to Las Cruces to settle in the home she purchased over ten years ago.
After some Election Day back and forth at the door, she proceeded to inform me of her experiences as a woman at the VA. She mentioned that medical staff do not always treat her as the soldier she is but as the wife of a soldier. In fact, she was quick to point out that her whole career–including her life now in the civilian world, has continued. Regardless of how hard she works and how smart she is.

We definitely had something in common in this case, as I shared my own personal challenges. I mentioned to her that last week, during a Democratic event with my other two male opponents, it was the first time, I think ever–where I felt uneasy about the implicit biases against me as a woman who chose this career path. My opponents both shared photos of them and their families, as if this is what makes them more electable. Meanwhile my slides, illustrated the work that I do and plan to do as a legislator. It was fascinating to gain her perspective as a veteran, because although we have made strides to challenge the patriarchy and overcome obstacles, there is still so much of it embedded in our system, that it is hard to shake off.What are we doing to welcome Jeneen to this table of civil discourse?

Nemecio
Nemecio was tough. He was ready to have it out with me considering that one of my opponents in the democratic primary had just stopped by himself.
Nemecio is done with politics. For a man his age, who has seen everything, how could I blame him?
From inside the house, he sternly said, “hold on a minute,” as I heard him talk to his dogs to send them to the backyard.
Finally he comes out the front door, allows me to give him my shpeel, grabs my literature and says,
“You’re all the same. You may be one way now but you’ll change. They always change.”
He continued. At some moments, berating policy makers–offending me and my friend a few times with sexist remarks. It was the first time in this entire campaign that I felt small. I didn’t quite know how to respond.
There was a moment when my friend tried to intervene in order to get away from the situation. But I didn’t move. I just kept taking it.
Finally, I asked him,
“At what point in your life did you give up on the system? What happened to you that has lead you to lose all hope in all of this? “
At first I thought he didn’t understand the question, because I think I may have repeated it to him a couple of times. I also believe that he was caught off guard by the question. It seemed as if one had asked him that before.
In the calmest I’d seen him he said,
“I lost all faith in the early 90s when I was let go of a job I believed I earned and was good at it.
Ah!
After a couple minutes of him sharing more of this, he became different. His attitude changed completely. He was now opening my literature as he spoke, unfolding it and working on straightening the creases he had bent and folded over and over again with his hands out of frustration.
We said our goodbye’s and I thanked him for giving me a chance to speak to him and I truly believe I got his support. I don’t want to say that my visit redeemed his faith in the process, but it was clear that whatever damage he had, there was a fraction of a wound that was beginning to heal.
What aimg_6309-2re we doing to welcome Nemecio to the table of civil discourse?
Folks, it really is about leading with the heart.
I must lead with my heart.
This is my life’s work. I know it will take decades to even make a fraction of a difference but I will go the distance.
I have to.
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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. March 28, 2016 at 10:17 PM

    All about the right questions and listening. I enjoyed this. 🙂

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