People often ask, “So why did you decide to run?” This is my answer:
Almost two years ago I was getting over my first round of chemo treatments and doing my best to get healthy again. I was driving home from a rural farm stand when I noticed a large pickup truck aggressively tailgating me. I looked in my rear-view mirror and saw a woman driving the truck, waving at me “with one finger”. Immediately I thought “What did I do wrong?” Then I saw the confederate flag license plate and realized it wasn’t what I did but likely who she thought she saw. I had tan skin, almost no hair, I wore big clunky glasses and drove a Prius. It was also where we both were: Bradenton, an area notorious for its hate groups.
I was also four days after the Presidential election. Right then I realized that the election had emboldened a sector of our country that expresses itself through hate, violence and intimidation.
It was then that I realized it was necessary for anyone with the capacity to lead to step forward. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do but I knew I needed to take leadership.
I remember worrying about my friend’s daughters. She was in the process of getting her US citizenship but it wasn’t official yet and her youngest daughter spent days after the election crying that she would lose her mother. “What if something happens to her or them?” I thought. We started discussing my taking custody of the girls if anything happened. I remember thinking “Amy maybe you’re over-reacting. People are saying, “Give him a chance,” that the president only campaigned on these things, he wouldn’t actually do them.” Today there are thousands of children separated from their parents in US camps. I still cannot believe I am typing this.
Last week there were bomb scares. Earlier today a friend posted about swastikas scrawled outside his house of worship here in town. Tonight I attended a vigil to commemorate a synagogue massacre.
When people asked me what my campaign slogan would be I thought about why I was running for office and the urgency of our moment in history.
“Come Together, Right Now” is my slogan.
Around the time The Beatles wrote “Come Together” they had been introduced to transcendental meditation by Ramana Maharishi. Someone once asked him “How are we to treat others?” His response was “There are no others.” We are one. I truly believe this.
I was taught by some of the best historians in the country and they taught me how quickly things can change. This is not a scare tactic. This is our reality.
We need to put our differences aside and embrace one another. Love, faith and peace are needed most at moments when they are the least likely to be found. When powerful people can distract us and divide us they disempower us.
Our nation was founded on the motto of E pluribus unum “Out of many, one.” The original 13 colonies realized that they were stronger together and because of that today we have a nation. Unity created the county we love.
It is still time for anyone who has the capacity for leadership to lead. We all have this capacity. In the coming days we need voters to do all they can to elect leaders who believe in and will uphold the sense of unity in diversity that makes these United States truly great.
Let’s be stronger together.
Come Together Right Now!