I was introduced to SAM by my younger brother. He is a founding member and we are extremely close. He asked me to take a look and I signed up. The other day he asked me why I joined SAM: was I just supporting him, or did I really believe in it and would I be willing to give more time and effort to the movement?
I admit: I joined SAM to support my brother. But, why I did join SAM at first isn’t why I remain a member today.
Independently, I had become disenchanted with our government and politicians: I couldn’t truly identify with one party over another; the growing divide between parties seemed unreasonable and counterproductive. The important issues were being sidestepped in presidential debates to make way for petulant battles of egos. Choosing a candidate would be a matter of choosing the lesser of evils. The future seemed grim for our nation no matter how the election turned out.
I joined SAM because of my brother. But, were it not for him, I still would have joined SAM because I want more from our government. I wake up every morning and give everything I have to my children because they are worth it. I work hard to to protect them; be available to them; nurture their independent needs and dreams. My personal career aspirations took a back seat because my family is where my heart is. It is my job to cultivate their self worth, values, and character so they can thrive independently one day and contribute to the world. I work hard to perpetuate the American Dream; to honor the life that was made better for me by my parents and pay it forward. Should I expect anything less from the guardians and protectors of the children of this country?!
The founding principles of SAM resonate with me. I want a government focused on pragmatic solutions, responsible service, reasonability, fair-mindedness. I want a government that will protect and defend our country, and that upholds the right to the American Dream. And, I especially want a government that believes in the idea of people over party.
Before the election, and before I joined SAM, my attitude about politics could lean more towards apathetic resignation than a call to arms, though. I had moments of righteous indignation, concern, fear, disgust, and disbelief during the presidential debates, but those feelings typically gave way to a dull sense of defeat when thinking about what I could do with my convictions. Politicians had perverted my idea of a democracy: “…of the people, by the people, for the people….” They were self serving; motivated by special interests. The resounding message coming from our government sounded to me like: “You don’t matter.” By default, I was shutting down, not rising up. I know I am not alone.
My brother and I have similar beliefs but we are also very different. He has a pedigreed Ivy League education, an impressive corporate resume and network of friends and colleagues. I left the workforce 13 years ago to raise my children. What could an ordinary stay at home mom from New Jersey bring to the table for SAM?
My brother still urged me to write this post. He emphatically reminded me that SAM wasn’t a movement exclusive to the academic or politically elite just like SAM isn’t a movement exclusive to any one party. Something clicked in that moment. SAM is each and every American voice. I am an American citizen! That means my opinion matters. That message stands in stark contrast to the message I get from our government and politicians today.
Since the recent election, I’ve thought a lot about the working class support for Donald Trump; the support from women for Hillary Clinton; about the support of African Americans for Obama. These are huge groups of people who have been (or feel) overlooked. Every American person has a right to matter. I have a right to matter. My children have a right to matter. People have rallied behind politicians who promise a voice to those who don’t have one, regardless of whether they were sincere in leading the charge, or perpetuating their own political agenda. Instead of thinking, “I was represented,” I want these entire groups of people what I want for my children: to be able to say, “I MATTER!” The power of that message is what moves me to rise up. That is the way I hear SAM’s message.