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We are moving forward... #ErinForUs

Did we win? Yes.  Will our campaign go forth? Yes.  Are we advancing in this particular election cycle? No.

Thank you. Thank you, my friends. Thank you for changing the world with us, for believing in what we are creating, and for daring to envision a new possible. I hope you all know that this is but the beginning. There is no end — only an opportunity to build upon the extraordinary, unprecedented momentum of this campaign and forge ahead with heart, perspective, and intention.

In 70 days, we accomplished what no one thought imaginable: we redefined civic engagement, we reinvigorated a culture of public service, we expanded the definition of who can BE a politician, and we added value to society through the very act of running.

I may not be THE 25-year-old Congresswoman about whom all of the headlines have been written, but I am going no where. This citizen activist and rabble-rousing optimist has pledged her life to public service for the past eleven years and for decades to come. In addition to being an activist, an educator, a social entrepreneur — a citizen who is committed to environmental action, public health, and equal justice — I am now deeply invested in changing the political system from within.

We finished eight points short of our goal, eight points shy of coming in second and having the opportunity to take on the incumbent head-to-head in the November general election. 12,333 people (and probably a few more absentee ballots that will trickle in) voted for Erin Schrode — and we needed that many more to make the cut.

Our two main needs from day one were name recognition and funding, the latter to fund the former. Our ten-week timeline did not prove long enough. The most common question I have been asked is: “Why don’t I know you’re on my ballot?” right down to Election Day, when a man drove by a group of us standing on the street corner with signs. The gentleman said that had he known who I was, he surely would have voted for me, rather than checking the default box for the incumbent Democrat.

That’s just it: incumbents win over 90% of the time. Incumbents are rarely ousted unless they have done something catastrophic. And while Jared Huffman has done nothing worthy of a prison sentence or massive scandal, I do not believe he is doing enough for our district — clearly, or I would not have run against a sitting Democrat.

I am proud that our campaign has pushed him in a better direction, that he has been forced to acknowledge the policy positions we put forth and speak to the issues we have raised. He sent out an email about women’s rights, which I was forwarded six times within half an hour, where constituents cited our campaign’s influence in shifting his areas of focus and public dialogue (and yes, we need more female representation across all industries, especially Congress, where we make up a meager 19.4%). He began talking more about innovation and technology (and even got an Instagram to engage with a new voter demographic on the platforms where WE exist!). He reached out to activists with whom we had met, deepening engagement with everyday community members. The Independent Journal wrote the following:

“As incumbents typically avoid engaging threats to their status, Huffman is not ignoring Schrode. He told INSIDER that she is playing “identity politics” as a means of: “…justifying her candidacy entirely based on her young age and her gender by claiming these things make her inherently ‘better.” Huffman’s signs of nervousness may not correlate to the current state of House races in the 2016 cycle, nor do they mirror his dominant financial stature, but they send a message.”

We ran a positive, meaningful, bona fide campaign on tens of thousands of dollars, against one powered by over $1 million that the incumbent has in a “war chest,” as many have called it. Campaign finance reform was not on my radar screen in any meaningful way when I launched this campaign, but it is now a key tenet. As a nation, we must achieve comprehensive campaign finance reform and dramatically reduce the influence of money in politics if we seek lasting change across the board.

Our campaign has influenced the current and future work of the sitting Congressman, he who is supposed to represent OUR voice at the federal level. That very challenge of ideals is democracy in action, as we have seen in the presidential race. May voters hold elected officials accountable to take on the issues that resonate strongly!

I am tremendously proud of the work of our campaign on the ground, for and in California’s Second Congressional District. We have made dozens of trips up and down the North Coast — to schools in Bolinas and Willits, farmers markets in Ukiah and San Rafael, community meetings in Mendocino and Arcata, beaches in Trinidad and Sausalito, small businesses in Petaluma and Garberville, activists in Fort Bragg and Eureka, forests in Jenner and Burlington. We have spoken with thousands of individuals to hear about the issues that matter most and how we can collaborate best to affect tangible change.

We outlined concrete policy positions (which can be found in greater detail on our website) in line with discussions and needs articulated by fellow citizens. Policy affects our daily lives in more ways than one may notice, with reform needed in a multitude of areas, including: 

— Environmental and public health: not only mitigating further climate degradation, but reversing the damage already done through carbon sequestration, as well as comprehensive toxins reform to protect the most vulnerable populations

— Learning and the future of work: a focus on closing achievement gaps, fixing broken

student loan systems, debt forgiveness, workforce development, and remedial skills training

— Human rights: on issues ranging from gender equity to paid leave, immigration reform to criminal justice reform

— Tech innovation: for transparency, efficiency, and efficacy in government, in the way it has revolutionized every other industry

I have been actively fighting for policy change at the county, state, and federal levels for over a decade, but a mere three months ago, I never could have imagined MYSELF as a politician. The launch of this campaign, as I am certain many of you have now heard or read, came in response to people asking me to run, following a talk I gave in Marin County a few short months ago. In the week between that event and the filing deadline, I spoke with hundreds of friends and mentors who urged me to DO it, who underlined that the voice I bring to the table IS desperately lacking at the federal level. And so I took a pen to paper to outline the vision, mission and purpose of the Erin For Us campaign.

The decisions being made today will disproportionately affect the next generation, yet young people have no voice at that very decision-making table. We need young voices in government — those who have a better pulse on the present and future of the state; those that have not been entrenched in power structures, be it in corporate board rooms, law offices, or the halls of government; those who bring fresh energy to Washington DC that can disrupt the status quo, which is not working for the majority of Americans; those who are not risk-averse, rather more willing to work across the aisle on common sense solutions for the common good — as the most collaborative, best informed, well-connected generation the world has seen.

To that end, our campaign leveraged digital platforms in pioneering ways for political ventures. From a launch on Facebook live to a Snapchat takeover and subsequent exchange with an active duty service member in Korea to a tweet from a supporter saying she “swiped right on a Bumble App guy bc his bio mentioned Humboldt and [she] needed to tell him to vote for Erin Schrode,” we were constantly charting new territory and broadening our sphere of influence in the digital world.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am always one to finding the silver lining, but when a sitting United States Congressman uses online outlets to denigrate the hard work of my incredible team, I must call it out. @JaredHuffman tweeted this to my campaign manager on the morning of Election Day: “Suggest you get that resume updated. You’re going to need it in exactly… 11 hours.” Well, no one needs to prepare a resume because there is no stopping our movement.

This campaign stands for the promise of a generation and a nation, for true representation, concrete action, and future-oriented thinking. Together, we can and must step up to meet the growing call for necessary change, wherein new voices bring uniquely valuable experience, integrity of character, a disruptive spirit, and authentic leadership into the political arena to better society and the institutions that govern our country.

I was in this race to win THIS race. We dared to do, we took the risk, we sprung into action, we gave it our absolute all. I have never felt that I have been doing something more worthy of my time, energy, and resources. And people have coalesced around a common message with a beautiful urgency of now. We cannot let that die — and I can assure you, we WILL not!

I am the first to tell you that 6.4+ million views on one piece of content, hundreds of millions of media impressions, tens of thousands of people talking about our campaign online does not necessarily translate into votes, HOWEVER that does represent a mandate. I am hugely proud to say that we (yes WE) have reached, activated, and inspired millions of people from our district to faraway lands. The remarkably kind words are pouring in, the notes of congratulations, the immense gratitude for having bravely RUN — sharing about what our campaign means to individuals of all ages, genders, parties, races, religions, nationalities, and backgrounds, in terms of changing the dynamics in politics, in defying odds, in placing another crack in that ceiling, in shifting the trajectory of lives, in running with bold vision and unwavering purpose.

We ran an open, inclusive campaign built upon the values and ideals in which I believe most — with joy, dignity, and sincerity. I believe in our collective ability to command moral authority and thereby lead the next chapter in a transition toward a more equitable, peaceful, sustainable future for all, where we make clear progress toward economic, racial, social and environmental justice and prosperity. We are building out the channels and mechanisms by which we can accomplish these very goals. Can I count on you to stay the course with me, with us?

I have dreams. I have plans. I have work to do. I will not stop — in the face of hatred, of negativity, of “defeat.” But all will be infinitely better if that ‘I’ is a ‘we.’ This has always been about purpose, not position — and will forever remain as such.

For those who have been calling/texting/emailing/Facebooking/Tweeting/Instagramming/Whatsapping/ Snapchatting… my most sincere apologies for not getting right back to you after Election Day. I slept for 13 hours, called my grandmother, and sat down to eat a proper [vegan, gluten-free] meal. I thank you for reaching out — and for all of the notes of encouragement and presence along the journey. None of this would be possible without the phenomenal support of individuals near and far who have stepped up in the most critical and beautiful of ways, a few of whom are tagged here and countless more who have generously and selflessly contributed to the groundbreaking success of our campaign. You know who you are. And I love you.

Just because we cannot do everything does not mean we will not do something. And the world needs you, me, us to do our somethings with integrity, commitment, and passion now more than ever before. Onwards, for us!

‪#‎ErinForUs‬ [Read, comment, and share on Medium too!]


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