On Sunday, after over 500,000 marched in Washington, D.C., 500 women interested in running for public office gathered in the nation’s capital. They turned their protest into further action by attending an all-day training hosted by EMILY’s list. On the agenda were topics that ranged from how to pick the best race for you to overcoming imposter syndrome and intimidation.
EMILY’s List is a PAC (political action committee) with the mission to elect more pro-choice female Democrats to public office. The name comes from a common fundraising phrase, “early money is like yeast”: E.M.I.L.Y. It implies that success is more likely with early investment, as money early on attracts more money later for both individuals and movements. This PAC is considered the “largest national resource for women in politics,” and funds the campaigns of progressive females in an effort to bring more equal representation to the halls of power in this country.
Since 1985, EMILY’s List has been raising money to support pro-choice women who are dedicated to making real change to benefit families from all backgrounds in the U.S.. In the past 32 years, EMILY’s List has expanded from fundraising to training and now have a community of over five million. They have supported over 900 victories for Democratic female candidates, all focused on progressive platforms.
Part of their expanded mission includes targeting female voters as a part of the WOMEN VOTE! movement. They also now focus on women of color and LGBTQ candidates, championing diversity as a cornerstone of their organizational priorities. This intersectional approach is described as acknowledging that “progress will not be fast enough, or reach its potential, unless we include the voices of everyone who shares our common values.”
Women who attended the training after the Women’s March on Washington described the experience as both refreshing and deeply inspiring. Leaders and speakers shared advice based on their own experiences as politicians and candidates, from small things like the importance of a lint roller to strategies for building their own websites and engaging neighborhoods.
This gathering of women after the widespread marching on Saturday is inspiring. By helping direct women who are interested in confronting the ever-growing list of concerns after the 2016 election, EMILY’s List is providing a strong training and network to ensure future success. From local school boards to runs for Congress, multi-generational women are stepping up to lead.
In an editorial yesterday, New York Times’s David Brooks wrote, “Marching is a seductive substitute for action in an antipolitical era, and leaves the field open for a rogue like Trump.” The women who are signing up for EMILY’s List trainings and others like it are entering into the fray, not avoiding it and certainly not self-congratulating for showing up for one day. They are committing themselves to the work it will take to combat threats to Americans’ rights across the country.
I can sympathize with the feeling that in order to run for office, one must have a slew of relevant experiences and years of special training. What many realized after the election is that it doesn’t take experience to get elected – it takes the right message. EMILY’s List is helping to hone the messages of women with progressive, pro-choice motivations who are interested in being public servants.
Many women wait to run for office until they feel more qualified, whereas most male candidates have little to no reservations. We need more diversity in office, more representation of our true make-up as a country. It’s about time women had some support and examples to guide them to office.
EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock said that after the March on Washington, “The most important thing we saw yesterday, the big takeaway, was the numbers of women in rural America, in the middle of America, who came together and realized, ‘I’m not alone,’ ” she said. “That’s so empowering, and those are going to be our future candidates.” They are dedicated to lifting up diverse women and for me, that is hopeful.