Editors' Note: Guest blogger Michael Mitchell is the Executive Director of the National Stonewall Democrats.
When the GOP took control of the House last November, there was a general feeling in our community (and much of the progressive and even centrist communities) that our agenda would be put on hold for the coming two years while we played defense against the typically crazy stuff that we always see from the other side of the aisle. While the country has been clamoring for jobs, jobs, jobs, the Boehner-led, but Tea Party driven, GOP has not disappointed with their addiction to meddling in Americans' personal lives (defending DOMA, trying to kill Planned Parenthood) and threatening to slash funding to programs dear to all of us (Social Security, PBS).
In all that noise, comes a bold program from out Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) called the Fearless Campaign.
Announced last month, the Fearless Campaign is a multi-issue project that plants a flag for the offense in six areas: food safety, education reform, net neutrality, immigration reform, drug policy and LGBT rights.
Tonight at 9 PM Eastern, Congressman Jared Polis is conducting an online, national town hall meeting to discuss the Fearless Campaign and officially launch the LGBT portion of the effort. I'm excited to be participating as the moderator of the town hall meeting, where we'll be using your live, online questions as the basis for our conversation.
You can watch the live video feed tonight (and ask your own questions) here on Bilerico Project, on the Fearless Campaign's website, or the National Stonewall Democrats site.
There is perhaps nothing more American - or democratic, for that matter - than the town hall meeting. A group of people gathered for a conversation about issues that concern them collectively, town hall meetings are a powerful way for ideas to be exchanged, complaints aired and action planned and possibly taken. Town hall meetings are also one of the best ways for elected officials to connect with their constituents because of the immediacy of the interaction. It's also a way for us to hold our elected officials accountable.
Like the National Stonewall Democrats, Rep. Polis believes that the only way that we are going to get rid of laws that discriminate against LGBT people is to build a broad coalition of courageous pro-equality leaders. But those elected officials need to know that they have an equally broad level of support from Americans like you and me; they need to know that we're helping create an environment in districts all across the country where pro-equality votes are a natural expression of working to build a more perfect union. Sure, there are times when elected officials need to take votes that are perhaps out ahead of where the majority of their constituents are, but we need to be there to make sure that they have the messages and on-the-ground support to be leaders and speak to a future where all Americans are treated equally. As Rep. Polis has said, "When politicians rely on political fear more than moral courage when asked to stand up for a group of Americans who do not have the political voice to stand on their own, then we as a nation suffer." It's up to us to do the tenacious, strategic and, yes, optimistic work that provides the room for our elected officials to more easily stand in their moral courage.
There is nothing more foolish than thinking that your job as a participant in our great democracy is done when you pull the lever in the voting booth, leaving the rest up to our elected officials. Leading our country to equality for all is not a job for one person or even a small group of people - it's a job for all of us.
Please join us tonight for the Fearless Campaign LGBT Town Hall Meeting and take an active role in your own equality. I'm looking forward to playing a little offense again.