Photo courtesy of Stacey Newman
For many progressive women in Missouri, including State Representative Stacey Newman, who ran unopposed for her seat in the 87th district, last week’s election began with high excitement. As they cast votes throughout the state, many women believed Hillary Clinton would be elected the next president of the United States.
Instead, they witnessed their once-purple state turn bright red as Republicans swept the top five state offices. Republicans now hold a super-majority in both houses of the Missouri legislature.
They watched in disbelief as Donald Trump garnered the necessary electoral votes to become the next president. Like many women last Tuesday, Newman had posted photos of herself in her "Nasty Woman" pantsuit on her Facebook page. She wrote, "The Newman family voted in 3 different polling places but in unison for #HRC."
As she settled in to watch the election results, she texted with friends throughout the country, including her daughter Sophie, who is a graduate student at University of Missouri-Kansas City. “She helped me, my wise daughter, who texted me through the night," Newman says. "I saw her strength. We began to strategize. We women always do this. We come together and protect each other. I do what I know—connect, build, and encourage.”
Wednesday morning, she connected to like-minded folks with a post on her blog, Progress/Women. "The fight doesn’t end," she writes. "In my total disgust, I’m hearing those in the past quietly whisper, 'keep moving.'"
To find local and national organizations supporting women’s equality, reproductive rights, voting rights, running for election, and violence against women and families, visit the blog's "Do Something About It" tab.
On Thursday, Newman saw George Takei speak to a packed auditorium of students at University of Missouri-St. Louis. She posted on Facebook: "His message of perseverance, his unconstitutional internment as a Japanese American child with his family during WW II, his work as a teen during the 1960's civil rights movement, his lifelong dedication to gay rights and personal coming out, his national work for marriage equality and now his efforts to combat gun violence prevention after the Pulse shooting... And what happened two nights ago to our country. George minced no words as [he] preached – ‘all of us must take responsibility, get involved, be citizens, stand up, fight hard for justice."
During our interview, Newman was preparing remarks for the "Love Rally" at Washington University last Friday. “I’ve been thinking all day what to say to those students," she says. "I was as unprepared as everyone for a Donald Trump win. How do we deal with this now?” By that evening, she had honed her words and shaped her remarks. Her appearance is now on YouTube.
On Monday, she sent out her newsletter, Newman Capitol News. The November 14 issue outlines how and why people need to know who they elected, how to contact them, and what is at stake. She writes, "It will take each of us to work together for policies that help and fight back against those that are hurtful. Contact your electeds, use social media & personal networks and write to your newspapers. Please use YOUR voice—too much for so many is at stake."
(You can also follow Newman on Twitter. “Sometimes I tweet from the House floor during session,” she says.)
The next legislative session in Missouri convenes on January 4. Newman has seven short weeks to strategize, connect, and consider how she will work with the newly elected legislature.
"With the Republican super-majority, all caution is thrown to the wind," she says. "Some hateful things we danced around [in the legislature] before are now being said openly. Some moderate Republicans did not get re-elected. We’ve lost some of those reasonable people who were willing to work together, using all the tools in our legislative tool-kit to soften some of the harsh measures."
She adds that despite the unexpected turn of events, she's more than willing to keep moving forward.
“I was as unprepared as everyone by this," she says. "What I do know to do now is to reach more people, to educate, to organize. I am a leader. I am an elected official. I’m fighting as hard as I can on the floor for social justice for all.”
Newman’s term in the House will end in two years. Although progressives have taken a hard blow, Newman isn’t one to give up. “We go to where the fight is,” she says. “As Rabbi Susan Talve advises, 'Be the somebody who says yes.’ People are coming together online, in person, at events in ways that are both energizing and hopeful.”
To sign up for her newsletter, Newman Capitol News, send a request to subscribe by sending an email with the subject line "newsletter sign-up’" to firstname.lastname@example.org.