For Kentucky Democrats, the Only Way to Win is to Lose

by Ben Carter in


It’s a tough time to be a Kentucky Democrat. We’ve lost the state House of Representatives—badly and for the first time more than a century. Just look at this .gif of the Eastern Kentucky vote in 2008, 2012, and 2016. 

I’m from Greenup County and a Democrat, so this red wave hurts both my head and heart. Just watch this .gif for a moment and let that wave wash over your retinas. Time to think about some stuff. Photo courtesy of @MetricMaps, who you should definitely follow on Twitter. 

I’m from Greenup County and a Democrat, so this red wave hurts both my head and heart. Just watch this .gif for a moment and let that wave wash over your retinas. Time to think about some stuff. Photo courtesy of @MetricMaps, who you should definitely follow on Twitter. 

Stark.

We have, as a national party, made ideological commitments to a multiracial, inclusive politics that has not translated well to a pretty rural, mostly white, mostly Christian Kentucky. And, by “not translated well” I mean, “Holy smokes, that was brutal.”

Meanwhile, our commitments to equality based on race, sexual orientation, gender, and national origin are non-negotiable. Let me put it this way: there will never be a moment that the KKK plans a celebration parade for a Democrat if I have anything to say about what being a Democrat means. 

With a national party building a young, multiracial, multiethnic, cosmopolitan coalition of voters, Kentucky Democrats find ourselves in what Ulysses McGill might call a “tight spot.” 

So, what are Kentucky Democrats to do? This is what we do. Here is my four-step plan to fight. 

STEP 1: LOSE

You guys, we are going to lose so hard. I mean, we already lost hard, but we are going to keep losing hard. We are going to lose more going forward than we have in the past. In Kentucky, the way to win is to challenge every state House seat, every state Senate seat, every Congressional seat, every statewide office every time. We run everywhere. Every time. Again and again. And we're going to lose terribly. It's going to be painful, occasionally embarrassing, and seemingly futile. 

And yet, these losing campaigns and candidates are our only hope. These fearless losers will be the ones showing up knowing they’re going to lose and fighting anyway. They will be the ones having tough conversations with neighbors and church members about their values, illustrating in word and action how their Christian faith informs their commitment to Democratic principles.

Step 2: Run Everywhere, Every time. 

In Kentucky, the way to win is to challenge every state House seat, every state Senate seat, every Congressional seat, every statewide office every time. We run everywhere. Every time. Again and again. This year, two Republican congressmen ran unopposed. In 100 state House races, 64 were contested and 11 Democrats ran unopposed while 25 Republicans ran unopposed. (You can see the full results here. Pay special attention to those House races where Republicans ran unopposed. Do you live there? This essay is especially for you.) 

We have to begin to compete everywhere. Every race that is unopposed is a race in which voters are hearing no counterargument, engaging in no conversation. No one is offering those voters a separate vision of how we can move forward as a Commonwealth and nation than the one offered by the unopposed Republican.

For the national party, waiting for the demographics to catch up with your ideological commitments may be a winning strategy. In Kentucky, we can take no comfort in demographics. Our mostly white, mostly Christian neighbors are mostly going to get older. Heck, unlike most states, we can’t even count on our millennials to vote Democrat. 

Source: https://mic.com/articles/157558/here-s-what-the-electoral-college-map-would-look-like-if-only-millennials-voted#.K6LJtiJzO

Source: https://mic.com/articles/157558/here-s-what-the-electoral-college-map-would-look-like-if-only-millennials-voted#.K6LJtiJzO

And, even if we could count on demographics, that’s still not the way to win. The way to win is to engage with our neighbors. To keep talking, advocating, listening, learning, shaking hands, building trust, and being helpful. We keep showing up. We fight everywhere for the hearts and confidence and votes of our neighbors. Not because we can win this next election or the one after that, but because we owe it to our neighbors to fight and our vision of the future compels it.

Though we may not intend it, when the Democratic Party fails to contest a race, we risk communicating to voters that we do not believe they or their votes are worth fighting for. That’s the wrong message to send to big chunks of our state for two reasons: 1) it’s not true, of course, and 2) it’s bad politics. 

As Democrats, we support raising the minimum wage, higher taxes on corporations, and paid sick-leave for all workers. We know that workers benefit in higher wages and safer workplaces when they are represented by unions and believe that any worker who benefits from union negotiations ought to also pay dues to the benefit negotiating those better wages and better working conditions. Let's take our case to our neighbors everywhere across Kentucky. 

As Democrats, we are proud of our President, Democrats in Congress and former Governor Steve Beshear for expanding access to affordable healthcare to tens of thousands of Kentuckians who desperately needed it. The Affordable Care Act has been a tremendous benefit to Kentucky and Kentuckians. But, our work is not over! Still more people need coverage and we are committed to reducing cost and expanding coverage.  

Step 3: Keep Losing

In case it’s not clear: I understand that the 25 people who could have run against these unchallenged Republicans would have lost. Badly.

So badly.

And, wow, the two Democrats that could have run against Brett Guthrie and Hal Rogers? Incinerated. Dust. 

We don't have any other choice but to fight and lose. We need candidates willing to stand up across Kentucky and say that the values they learned in Sunday School—inclusion, fair play, welcoming the stranger, caring for the needy—are the same values that inform their position on making taxes less regressive, ensuring that everyone that works makes a living wage, negotiating a path to citizenship for undocumented workers in Kentucky, expanding access to affordable healthcare to everyone. 

Look, I understand that for some voters are never going to be for you if you’re not in favor of banning access to safe abortions and banning gay marriage. But, I don’t think that’s most voters. I especially don’t think that’s most voters after we’ve shown them our hearts and guts in race after race. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the Democratic Party’s (non-negotiable) positions on these two issues will doom Kentucky Democrats to a century in the minority in Frankfort. I don’t think so, but maybe. 

What I think is more likely is that authentic candidates unwilling to compromise on core Democratic principles will begin to rebuild Democratic power slowly, one campaign at a time. This progress will be painfully slow for many Kentuckians who will be hurt by Republicans’ efforts to weaken unions, restrict voting rights, reduce state revenues by cutting taxes on the wealthy, roll back protections for the LGBTQ community, privatize public education, and limit Kentuckians’ access to trial by jury. But, we will make progress. 

I want to be super-clear on this: I don't think voters who vote "against their self-interest" are to blame. Part of a commitment to democracy is a belief that all voters are smart enough to decide what's important to them and what's in their best interest. I don't think voters who voted for Trump are bigots or racists or Islamaphobes (unless, of course, they are). Voters don't owe the Democratic Party anything and in places in the state where we ceded a full 25% of the House races without opposition, I understand the sentiment that Democrats have abandoned those places and don't care. Democrats have lost the credibility to cry, "But they're voting against their self-interest!" when across large swaths of the Commonwealth we've played virtually no role in helping to frame our neighbors' "self-interest" within a larger web of policy considerations.  

I am convinced: there is nothing about the Democratic Party’s national commitments and platform that prevents Democrats from winning in mostly rural, mostly white, mostly Christian Kentucky. By showing up, listening, learning, advocating, and arguing—even where we’re going to lose, heck, especially where we’re going to lose—Democrats will win in Kentucky again.    

Step Four: Organize and Train

This is going to be a long, long slog and to do it the Kentucky Democratic Party must commit to building an infrastructure to train candidates, amateur campaign managers, and volunteer campaign workers. Democratic grassroots in Kentucky are energized today like they haven't been in years. We understand: there is no one coming. It is up to us. The KDP must harness that grassroots energy and give its activists the tools they need to organize, fund, and execute campaigns across the state. 

We have already seen the success that organizations like Emerge Kentucky and Wellstone Action have had in training future candidates to run for office.

One recent graduate of the Emerge Kentucky program, McKenzie Cantrell, narrowly defeated a party-switching incumbent (who was well-supported by independent PAC spending) to return a Kentucky House seat to the Democrats earlier this month. Without Emerge Kentucky, I’m not sure McKenzie becomes Rep. Cantrell. (By the way, ladies, the deadline to apply for Emerge Kentucky's next training has been extended to December 1.)

Training people to run for office and run campaigns and organize communities works. Leadership, public speaking, campaigning, tweeting are not God-given gifts like height or 20/20 vision. They’re skills that can be learned, honed. Because we are going to run candidates everywhere, every time, the Kentucky Democratic Party owes its candidates and organizers this training. Not once candidates win a primary. Now. Before they run. While they run against other Democrats. All the time. All over the state. This is the work of the Kentucky Democratic Party.

Slowly, we will begin winning. It may be a surprise in a rural district from an especially strong candidate. Or, we may pick up a suburban district in northern Kentucky after a few swipes at it. But, slowly, we will begin to win.

Ironically, it may be a statewide office that we win first with the help of a bunch of losers at the bottom of a ticket. While coattails at the top of a ticket matter, people forget that having strong candidates at the bottom of a ticket can drive voters who otherwise may not have voted at all or may have otherwise voted for the other party to the polls. I’m not fancy enough to know what the opposite of coattails are, but they exist and—with the help of Kentucky Democrats in larger cities—these losers with reverse coattails may elect a Democratic governor in 2019 or a Democratic Senator in 2020. 

It probably won’t happen that fast, though, folks. We need to be real about where we are: this is a decade-long project and just a ton of hard work and losing. For a long time, we’re going to have to run in a way that says, “This is not about winning. This is about fighting.” Of course, I happen to believe that once Democrats stop caring about whether they win or lose, they will run the kinds of campaigns that will eventually win. 

Winning by losing. In a state where many of us worship a God whose death vouchsafed eternal life, it’s a strategy so crazy it just might work. 

Action Item: 

Share this post with someone you know who would make a good candidate for public office in Kentucky, some loser who loves a good fight. Tell them why you think they would make a good candidate, and, tell them you'll help. Tell them losing is okay: it's all part of the plan.


"Encouragement": A Sermon by Will Terry

by Ben Carter


I'm not sure why the thought popped into my head. Maybe it has to do with the election about which he would have had so much to say. Maybe it's because I've recently wished I could ask his advice about some things. Maybe it's because I say his name at least a hundred and fifty times a day: "Will, do you need a new diaper?" "You did it, Will!" "Will, put your bottom in the chair." "Will, use your gentle hands on Rooster." "Go get a book and I'll read it to you, Will."

Whatever the reason, a few days ago I thought, "I'd like to read that sermon, 'Enthusiasm,' that Dean Terry once wrote." I found it in my files, read it this morning, and want to share it with you. The sermon is called "Encouragement,"  not "Enthusiasm."

DT, surrounded by some of his mentees, at his 80th birthday celebration. 

Dean Will Terry, for those of you who don't know, was the long-time Dean of Students at Davidson College and who in his retirement served as a mentor to me and dozens of other students. He passed away last Spring before our Will was born. Outside of my family, no one did more for me to encourage me. As he notes, that encouragement includes not only applauding the good acts and notions, but also lovingly holding us to account for our shortcomings.  

The sermon made me miss him terribly. We could all use his kind of encouragement: genuine praise, kind accountability, all wrapped in a North Carolina draw and served alongside some burgoo. 

The full text is below. Here is the .pdf version with his notes. Here is a pull quote to get you started: 

"Beyond this why should we even be concerned about the gift of encouragement? Because we care about people. Because we care about ideas and causes and wish to see them embraced and see them prosper. Because we care about institutions—church, college, family, town, nation—we care about friendship—and desire that they be authentic instruments of growth and nurture and justice."

For those of you who can subvocalize this sermon in Dean Terry's lilting, wily conversational style, you are in for a special treat. For those of you who must simply hear his words, well, they're pretty good all on their own.   

ENCOURAGEMENT, by Dean William Holt Terry

Several years ago, I was preaching at Steele Creek; it was my third Sunday there. The first two Sundays had passed without incident. On the third Sunday I was preaching away and an elderly gentleman, a newcomer to the congregation, delivered a loud AMEN and his fellow worshipper, also an elderly gentleman, answered with an equally fervent AMEN. I was startled, but managed to contain my composure. The AMEN's continued at intervals throughout the rest of the sermon. I must admit I was encouraged; it gave momentum to the sermon. I'm not sure I would want it as a steady diet, but at least someone was listening, and that is always encouraging.

Today let's talk about encouragement. To encourage is to make another bold, to hearten, to reassure, to comfort. To encourage is to inspire with courage, to make another confident.

The Bible is the story of God's encouragement of men and women. God chose Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, each with his unique gifts, to be the patriarchal leaders of the nation. He made them bold to be pioneers of faith. Moses he inspired with the courage he lacked so that he might be the great emancipator. He heartened Jeremiah, Isaiah, Amos, Hosea, and Micah to be prophets. Prophetic vocation is a hard taskmaster, and it would not have been possible without God's encouragement. The Bible is a book of encouragement. It is significant that the word in the New Testament for encouragement and the word for Holy Spirit have the same root.

Beyond this, our encouragement is found in the deeds, death and raising of Jesus and in his being lifted to power. Jesus Christ is God's supreme act of encouragement to us. It says that God has not destined us for wrath but for salvation, not for despair for for hope, not for destruction but for wholeness. Is there better or more encouraging news than that?

In fact it is the ease that the work of Christ's encouragement enables us to he encouragers. We see it in the life of the Christian about whom we read this morning. His name is Barnabas which means"son of encouragement.” A great Christian scholar has written this moving tribute to him: “Barnabas is one of the most attractive characters in the New Testament. He possesses the rare gift of discerning merit in others. Probably inferior in ability to Paul, he was his superior in Christian graces. He seemed to have been utterly without jealousy, eager to excuse the fault in others, quick to recognize merit, ready to compromise for the sake of peace. Paul's elevation of character seems to have been hardly human while the virtues of Barnabas make him singularly lovable. The Paul of history contributes to the progress of the world. Barnabas and those like him make the world endurable to live in.”

Barnabas does not dominate Acts as do Paul and Peter, but he always seems to appear at the crucial time, not just in the life of the church but in the lives of individuals. His first act of encouragement was financial. He sold his farm and put the proceeds at the feet of the disciples to be used for evangelism and for the help of the needy. His stewardship illustrates his encouragement of mission and people.

He was Paul's great encourager. After his conversion to the Christian faith, Paul came to the church to be put to work. They rejected him. It is no wonder, for he had been a literal monster, the one who consented to the death of Stephen and persecutor of many more. Their rejection deeply depressed him, for he believed his call to ministry was a genuine one. Self-doubt began to creep in, Was he wrong, had he not been called? Barnabas took him for real. Be stood up for him, he stood beside him, he spoke for him. It was because of Barnabas that Paul had a future in the church. Later Paul wrote "love thinks no evil" and Barnabas illustrates the point in the superlative. In a sense Barnabas represents the gospel in microcosm, his grace is illustrative of God's grace for us all, forgiving our past and giving us a future

Another incident indicates the part of encouragement which involves wisdom. The church at Jerusalem had heard of strange happenings in the church at Antioch. There Gentiles were being swept up into the church. Disturbed, they needed an investigator. Barnabas was the overwhelming choice. William Barclay said, "It was by the grace of God they sent the man they did, for they sent the man with the biggest heart in the church." When he saw this marvelous sight of Gentile converts being swept up into the church, he was glad and encouraged a ministry to these new believers. Not only did he encourage them with his words, but with a better form of encouragement by rolling up his sleeves and going to work. There was more work there than he could do and so he sought help. The partner he called was Paul, and the first real missionary team was formed. He gave Paul his first real job. It takes great wisdom to find the right man for the right job. It takes even more grace to push another ahead of you, because you perceive that he is abler and will enhance the cause for -which you are both working. The being willing to be upstaged for a cause more important than your own career is at the heart of encouragement and may be its most eloquent part. And that too is why Barnabas is known as the "son of encouragement.”

One of the great tragedies of the early church was the severing of the friendship between Barnabas and Paul, but that too was the result of Barnabas’ habit of encouragement. The issue was John Mark, a cousin of Barnabas' who was a member of the team that went out on the first missionary journey. He had gotten cold feet and quit. Paul refused to take him on their second trip. Barnabas thought he should be given a second chance, just as Paul had been given a second chance. Though his friendship with Paul was important, it was not as important as the future usefulness of another person, se he let Paul and Silas go on their way, and he took John Mark under his wing. He saved John Mark, and as Paul later acknowledged, Mark became a valuable disciple. Wherever Barnabas went he left lives and churches enriched and growing. Barnabas and those like him make the world livable and illustrate that the encouragement of Christians of one another is indispensable for Christian growth.

BUT I am not encouraged about the abundance of Barnabas in each of us or the number of Barnabases among us. We live in a time of put-downs. The “nabobs of negativism" have center stage in our culture. Churches often make the mistake of confusing piety or orthodoxy or their special cause as being of more importance than the harmony of body, the nurture of persons or the proclamation of the gospel. Frankly, I am depressed by the rigidity, the hostility (downright hate) that appears in letters by Christians in the newspaper. There seems to be more delight in imagining people in hell than joy in their calling to heaven. Is encouragement a forgotten grace? More to the point, is it even a possible one in our kind of world? There is much about the style of the Christian community and individual Christians that discourages rather than empowers.

Moreover, we need to look at the sources of discouragement among us. Why are we more prone to be negative and discouraging than encouraging? The first reason is a low opinion of ourselves. If we do not feel good about who we are, when something is missing in our lives, then the basic instinct is to put down the other guy. Negativism about other people is bred in insecurity. It festers in jealousy. It breeds in failed personal expectations and goals. Hostility is another origin of the discourager as is frustration and unhappiness. There are many reasons why we neglect the grace of encouragement and we need to be introspective enough about our foibles and failures to understand our condition.

DT with a hippie only someone truly committed to encouragement as a spiritual value could encourage. 

DT with a hippie only someone truly committed to encouragement as a spiritual value could encourage. 

Beyond this why should we even be concerned about the gift of encouragement? Because we care about people. Because we care about ideas and causes and wish to see them embraced and see them prosper. Because we care about institutions—church, college, family, town, nation—we care about friendship—and desire that they be authentic instruments of growth and nurture and justice. It is interesting that much of the literature being written about business success is couched in positive terms, where success is attributed to a positive relationship with people rather than a negative response, where confidence building takes precedence over harassment and motivation by fear. Because as teachers, as lovers, as parents and preachers and as friends, encouragement is the best way for our fellows to grow to,be healthy mentally and spiritually. Because encouragement is a more productive lifestyle than carping and faultfinding. Supremely because we no less than Barnabas are the recipients of God's great encouragement in Jesus Christ.

If we follow Barnabas' model, we find that encouragement allows people to seize upon their strengths and work through their weaknesses; to acknowledge guilt but to seize forgiveness. It is a method of trying to catch people doing something right rather than glee in finding them doing something wrong.

On the other hand, we may not make encouragement a Pollyanna exercise, merely sweetness and light. Encouragement often has in it the element of judgment. Encouragement includes often telling people what is wrong with their behavior. True encouragement tries to separate the behavior and the person.

Several years ago a clergyman designed a technique called crisis intervention and its method illustrates what I am trying to say. He discovered it when he was trying to help a lady who was dying with cirrhosis of the liver but would not admit that she had a drinking problem. He had the family gather around her bed to recount to her incidents that they had observed of her drinking and its ensuing behavior. They told her how they felt about what she did about their anger, frustration, embarrassment. Then they told how much they loved her and they instinctively touched her to demonstrate that love. They indicated how they wanted her to live and to enjoy life once again. It was because they loved her that her actions so disturbed them. They affirmed her as a person, but confronted her behavior. Such also is the nature of encouragement. It was a method our Lord has used time and again with us.

To be an encourager, to aspire to be a latter-day Barnabas, is a model for ministry well worth the attention of every Christian who wishes to build up the body of Christ. We have all been objects of encouragement by a parent, a brother or sister, a grandparent, a preacher or teacher, a friend or coach an employer or employee. It is their encouragement that has made us as whole as we are. But the question is: are you an encourager? Is your vocation to encourage adopting encouragement as a way of living and loving?


I'm Asking for Money for Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, People.

by Ben Carter in


I’m writing today to raise money for Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. I have set a goal of raising $1,787 for KFTC. Why $1,787? Two reasons: 1) that seems like an achievable goal and 2) 1787 is the year we got our Constitution. Just after the ink was dry on the final version of the Constitution, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin what kind of government the convention had created.

“A republic, if you can keep it,” he responded. 

Click here to stop reading and just give $25 bucks to KFTC. 

Following the truly frightening election of an authoritarian bully two weeks ago, progressives, activists, Democrats, and even people who normally don’t pay much attention to politics are mobilized and motivated like I’ve never seen before. The energy—driven by fear of what’s to come and the discovery that in 2016 there is so much work yet to be done—is palpable and everywhere. Will we keep our republic? Will we be enough for this moment and worthy of our forebears?

New leaders and new organizations will emerge from this energy, especially aided by our ability to organize so much and so well online. This is good stuff. Great stuff. Go get ‘em, everyone. 

But, [whispers]: KFTC has been organizing in communities across Kentucky for thirty-five years, y’all. 

In these dizzying, disorienting days in which we find ourselves having to prepare for a Trump Administration, people have a natural inclination to start something new. Let me just suggest this: KFTC has a time-tested structure into which you can pour your energy and enthusiasm. KFTC has local knowledge and a preexisting network of alliances, allies, and members to welcome you and your energy and enhance your work. 

If you are looking to do something, to get involved, you could do far worse than showing up at your local KFTC meeting next month. 

Right now, they are working on the following issues:

  • Coal and Water
  • Economic Justice
  • New Energy & Transition
  • Voting Rights

And, here’s the thing: KFTC's mission and issues are driven by what their members want to work on. So, if you have an issue you care deeply about, getting other KFTC members to care about it means that KFTC as an organization cares about it. Recently, the Bowling Green chapter has done tremendously good work on advocating for reforms to landlord-tenant law in their community

Each year, KFTC hosts the Smoketown Getdown two blocks from the global headquarters of Ben Carter Law, PLLC. We show up to the Getdown with a bubble table because that's how we do. 

Here in Louisville, the Jefferson County chapter of KFTC is organizing awesome events like this one coming up about community land trusts. If executed well, a community land trust in a neighborhood like Smoketown could build wealth among the working families and preserve affordable housing in the neighborhood in perpetuity. Sounds awesome, right? That kind of project only gets off the ground with the attention and energy of an organization like KFTC.  

Why are you still reading and not clicking here to give $25 to KFTC? 

Restoration of voting rights for former felons is so important to me. And, KFTC has been working on this issue for more than a decade, making slow, incremental, hard-fought progress across Kentucky and in Frankfort. It’s not a sexy issue and the 250,000 people affected by disenfranchisement literally have no political power. Without the leadership of KFTC and the long attention to this issue by KFTC members, this issue wouldn’t be on anyone’s political radar. Full stop. 

Most people don’t know this, but when I was in law school, I had a radio show on UK’s student run station, WRFL. The BlueGrassRoots Radio Review was truly terrible. But, KFTC came on the show anyway and talked about restoration of voting rights for former felons way back then. Here’s that interview: 

I have to say, relistening to (parts of) that interview before posting it made me a little sad. That was 10 years ago and we are still working on restoring voting rights for former felons in Kentucky. Check that: Kentuckians for the Commonwealth is still working on restoration of voting rights. Even though I claim that this issue is "so important to me," I haven't done any work on that issue for almost eight years. Which is, to my mind, Exhibit A for why KFTC is important. Without organizations like KFTC with the will and skill to endure and continue to fight, politicians and policymakers can just try to run out the clock or grind grassroots organizations down with delay. But, KFTC is not going anywhere and while policymakers may delay, KFTC will be back next year, too. My energy and enthusiasm comes and goes. KFTC presses on. 

When Benjamin Franklin said, “A republic, if you can keep it,” I don't think he was referring to keeping the republic safe from foreign invaders. Instead, I think he meant that keeping a republic will require vigilance by and the active engagement of all its citizens. We must be worthy of a republic. We must, generation after generation, earn a republic.

At KFTC, you will find an organization of vigilant, engaged citizens ready to harness your energy and work alongside you toward a better, fairer, more prosperous Kentucky. You will find an organization through which you can earn your republic. 

Join something new if you want. Start something new if you must. But, first, support the work of the longtime organizers in our Commonwealth. 

Good job, you made it to the end!

Now, click here to donate $25 to KFTC.

Now. 


Holy 💩, I Need a 💒

by Ben Carter in


On Wednesday morning, some of the first people I sent texts to were Geoff and Derek, friends I’ve made through Douglass Boulevard Christian Church

“I have always viewed DBCC as an important presence in our community and an important voice in the conversation,” I said. “Now, 'important' has changed to 'necessary.' We have a lot of work to do.”

I said that on our Slack channel, because, you know, we fancy. 

Since then, a few of my friends have expressed a desire to connect or reconnect with a faith community after the election. And, at church this morning, I noticed a dramatic increase in visitors (from our usual 2-3 to 9 or 10; so, dramatic for us). 

I think there are three things (at least) animating this interest in faith communities despite the reality that Americans are not really "joiners" anymore. We keep our social commitments loose and the number of groups who can lay claim to our precious free time pretty low, but still...let's talk about faith with the orange visage of Donald Trump on the horizon rising like a terrible tropical sun. 

First, it is disorienting and scary to see your friends and neighbors be willing to elevate “economic issues” above things like, say, basic human decency, not watering the seeds of hate in our country, and not grabbing women by their pussies. “But, wait,” we are thinking, “I thought religious freedom and racial equality and not committing sexual assault were things everybody has agreed on for decades.” Apparently not. Or, at least, we learned Tuesday that huge numbers of Americans (like, tens of millions!) are willing to tolerate a little wink-and-nod racism and a lot of fearmongering about Mexicans and Muslims and refugees if we think America isn’t winning anymore or enough. 

I think it's natural to want to orient ourselves in anticipation of President Trump. And, for centuries and for many of us as kids, church was where we have gone to get moral guidance and clarity. Not to mention providing a community of people who can hold us up and hold us accountable and be our friends. (Meanwhile, many people at my church were hurt by the faith traditions in which they were raised, so I don't want to ignore the very real fact that "church" has also been a source of hurt rather than solace in for many.)

Many of us feel like we are on the precipice of a long national gaslighting. We are already being told, “[Insert one of a dozen odious, cruel, or unconstitutional policy proposals] will never happen.” “He didn’t really say that.” “He didn’t really mean that.” “Now is the time to come together.” 

Listen: I’m never, ever going to “come together” with the KKK. And, I’m not going to support a President who still—stillhasn’t denounced the hundreds of acts of violence and intimidation that have been perpetrated in his name since his victory on Tuesday night. 

People: this is just gaslighting. 

And, when we're being gaslit by the soon-to-be Commander-in-Chief, I think it is natural to want to gather with other people and be like, “I’m not crazy, right? Like, it is still important to show compassion for the dispossessed and to try to heal the hurting, right?”  Like, "Donald Trump totally said he wanted more countries, not fewer, to have nukes, right?"

RIGHT. 

Second, I think there is a growing realization in the wake of Donald Trump’s candidacy, hurtful, divisive statements, irresponsible silences, and his ultimate election that, “OMG, we have so much work to do.” And, combined with that first realization is its corollary impulse: “I don’t want to work alone.” I know this is how I feel about it, for sure. DBCC gives me events to go to, actions I can take toward living a life of faith and conviction.

As I said in the only sermon I’ve had the chance to give

This faith community gives me, us, the foundation and opportunity to start doing something—anything—toward living a faithful life. And, more importantly for me, gives me role models to emulate, people every day modeling what faith—an active faith, a heroic faith, not some middling, weak sauce faith; what a courageous faith—looks like in the world.

When I come to church, when I go to events, when I read the emails, here’s what I see: people working to expand access to healthy, local foods, people welcoming the outsider in. Since I have been here, this church has been an example in Louisville and around the nation of a community that says, “There is no them and us, in and out, cools, dorks, your side, my side. There is only we, us, together.”

Most recently, you all have worked to make a home and a welcome for Syrian refugees and for a lesbian couple outed against their will who can’t safely return to their home country anymore. Think about that. You have made a home for two families who had no home and a welcome in a foreign land to people who have lost everything.

I see our choir providing encouragement, comfort, solace, and beauty with a song. People performing thousands of selfless acts each year to make this campus nicer, more efficient; people working to make our community fairer, greener; to make sure everyone has access to the same opportunities, the same justice. I see people visiting the sick, the lonely, the inconvenient.

Sometimes, there’s a church. I won’t say a heroic church, because what’s a hero? But, sometimes there’s a church that opens its doors wide and says, “Come inside. Those weights look heavy. We’ll take those for you. Welcome.”

Church, after Tuesday, seems not just important, but necessary to many of us and ¿maybe? relevant and potentially useful once again for many more.

Third, and I have the least to say about this, I think when people are feeling out of control, it is comforting to believe that there is a Larger Plan™️ being executed by a Higher Power. As I have said before, this kind of faith is hard for me, but I think it is part of the renewed interest for some people in finding a faith community.  

Now that I’ve outlined why people might be interested in engaging or re-engaging with a faith community, I want to be clear about something: I’m not writing this essay to invite you to Douglass Boulevard Christian Church or suggest that DBCC is right for you, specifically. (Though you are invited, of course.)

Most of the people reading this aren’t in Louisville (though we do have a podcast of the sermons 😉 and the one from today is a great place to start) and there are other options for those who are. Sarah goes to St. William Church, a #hyperlegit Catholic Church in Old Louisville. I have friends at Highland Pres and Highland Baptist and know them to be welcoming, compassionate communities of faith that act on their faith and conviction, too. And, though I've never heard him preach, Rev. Bruce Williams of Bates Memorial gave a speech earlier this year that I will never, ever forget. 

Instead, this is just to say that Donald Trump’s election to be President of the United States is baffling and frightening thing. On Wednesday morning, I was glad as hell to have a church community to reach out to, to SMDH alongside, and who I knew would double-down on its commitments to the poor, the marginalized, the fearful and oppressed.

This is just to say that all across the country there are churches and mosques and synagogues and meditation centers working damn hard to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God. That is, places of worship who are doing their best to deliver justice to the oppressed, comfort those in pain, feed those who are hungry. Places of welcome. Places that are way less concerned about "saving your soul" than they are figuring out how the refugee family is going to get to their doctors' appointments on Friday. 

If you are feeling an impulse toward connecting with a community of faith, you might be surprised in 2016 by what you find. (At DBCC, you’ll find at least one member who cusses more than he probably should.)

If the Jesus that resonates with you is the one who told the parable of the Good Samaritan, the one who turned over the moneychangers’ tables in the temple, the one who told his followers to invite the poor, crippled, lame, and blind to dinner, well, you’re not alone.

There are, literally, every day, people being beaten in the streets by Trump-inspired thugs. There are still moneychangers’ tables that need upending. And, there people waiting for invitations to dinner all around us. 

Our neighbors wounds won’t bind themselves. We are the Samaritans they have been waiting for. The tables are too heavy for just one person. And—let’s be real—I’m a terrible cook.

These communities of faith need you to help them do their urgent work of loving the forgotten and welcoming the disregarded just as you might be thinking that you need them. 

There’s plenty of work to be done. Joyfully and together.  

Here is a gratuitous pic of my beautiful family. 

Here is a gratuitous pic of my beautiful family. 


A Letter to Jack

by Ben Carter


On Wednesday, a friend of mine asked me how I felt having a kid now that we were going to be living in President Trump's America.

"I'll tell you how I feel. I feel grateful that he's not old enough that I have to explain what happened and what's going on."

For me, taking Will to the park and the playground this week have been filled with what felt like especially beautiful moments. Part of it is the season, for sure. But, part of it is a heightened sense of familial affection in the face of the fragility of our moment and uncertainty of what is to come.

A friend told me that his son who is old enough to understand the basic dynamics of the election was "devastated" when he delivered the news to him. Like I said, I'm grateful my job as a parent this week was to change diapers and take pictures and enjoy my son.

Not for the first time, I'm sending Jack—my friend's son—some Field Notes notebooks. One of the benefits of having a quarterly subscription to Field Notes is that I have WAY more notebooks around here than I could possibly use.

I wrote Jack a letter and gave him a pep talk and some quasi-uncle advice for how he might use the notebooks I'm sending him.

I'd like to share it with you:

Jack!

Your dad told me that you were disappointed when you learned that Donald Trump had been elected President. 

ME, TOO, BUDDY.

I am mad that so many people voted for a person who said unkind things about so many different groups of people. I am sure you are like me and have friends who look different than you, come from places all over the world, and some who worship God in ways different than you do. 

I am sending you some notebooks because you seem like the kind of guy who probably has some good ideas about ways that we can help one another, be kind to one another, and show each other that we love them, trust them, and enjoy being their friends and neighbors. 

When you have these good ideas, write them down in a notebook so you don’t forget them. 

Then, you can do some of the nice things that you’ve written down. Because, here’s the thing: now it is more important than ever for us to be kind to each other, to help one another, and to share our love with other people. 

One person, not even a powerful person like Donald Trump, does not define who we are as a country. Instead, the small acts each one of us take every day are what matter in the long run. Sitting with the new kid at lunch so she doesn’t feel alone, for example, is a small but important way to be kind. 

I feel confident that you will come up with some very creative ways to help others. I’m sending you enough notebooks that you can share some with a few of your friends (maybe your brother and sister, too). 

You don’t have to use the notebooks just for your ideas of nice things to do for other people, of course. It would please me to hear that you were also drawing, making lists of birds you see in your neighborhood, making maps, playing games, or doing math problems in your notebooks. Whatever you want, amigo.

Go get ‘em, Jack! Your friend, 

Ben


Fuck no, I'm not going to "give Donald Trump a chance."

by Ben Carter in


I got a call yesterday from a family member and knew I would have to talk politics. 

In the wake of Trump’s victory in the electoral college, I have been doing my very best not to think of my Trump-supporting family members because I want to continue loving them and yet their support of Trump makes that very difficult. Truly, I would have a hard time writing a character who stands more fully for the things that I stand against.

By now, the extensive list of well-fitting descriptions of Trump should have been set to a musical jingle long ago like the McDonald’s “Menu Song”: racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, autocratic, incoherent, privileged, sexist, bigoted, uncurious, flimflamming, abusive, fear-driven, inciting, dog whistling, divisive, spiteful, petty, bullying.

So, 48 hours after electing one of the most loathsome, craven, disgraceful people I've ever had to pay attention to, I'm finding it hard to feel loving towards my wonderful, kind, Christian, compassionate Trump-supporting family members. 

“Well, I hope you can give him a chance,” said the family member.
“Nope.”
 “He at least deserves for you to give him a chance.”
“Nope.”

Fuck, no, I’m not giving Donald Trump a chance. 

Donald Trump promised to ban an entire religion from entering the United States. That’s scaredy-cat conduct not befitting a grown man, much less the President. Not to mention that banning an entire religion is basically the most Un-American thing you could possibly do. For the Muslims in America? No worries: just be forced to register. Totally unconstitutional. 

Donald Trump promised to deport up to 6,500,000 people who are living and working in our country with their families. He promised to use the power of the United States government to divide families, tear children out of the arms of their mothers and fathers. While lawful, this proposal is absolutely Un-Christian and no person who feels any bonds of familial affection would ever propose it as a legitimate solution to the challenges facing immigrant families.

He has promised to torture our enemies, despite his understanding that this is a war crime under international law. Instead, he claims that “we have to play the game the way they’re [ISIS] playing the game.”

What. In. The. Everloving. Fuck. 

During his entire campaign, including how he talks about immigrants, Muslims, Mexicans, refugees, Donald Trump has stoked fear of the Other in an effort to divide our country and provide scapegoats to hard-pressed voters to blame for their troubles. This is nowhere more obvious than in his portrayal of the “inner cities” of America as postapocalyptic hellscapes overrun by violence

This is just the beginning and is to say nothing of Trump and women. But, I’m not going to make this into a catalog of Donald Trump’s outrageous, unthinking, unfeeling, unAmerican statements and plans. As I will explain below, I’ve got fucking work to do, and you can find that sort of catalog elsewhere.

“Well…” you say, “he didn’t really mean those things. He doesn’t actually plan to ban Muslims or commit war crimes.” 

THAT’S EVEN WORSE, MOTHERFUCKER. 

If Donald Trump didn’t mean that shit, but just said it to get elected… Why in the world would I give that guy a chance?

Here’s the thing: there’s never been a more flip-floppity blowhard than Donald Trump. Beyond taking him at his word regarding the statements above, who knows what that dude actually believes or plans to do, if anything? But, the one thing that has been steadfast and unchanging about Trump’s politics through the decades in which he’s inflicted his gasbaggery on America is this: authoritarianism. Whether Democrat, Republican, or independent, whether pro-choice or anti-choice, pro-Iraq War or anti-Iraq War, Donald Trump’s core political instinct is authoritarian. It is his only political position. 

And, now he’s President. With a GOP-controlled Congress. And a goddamned Supreme Court nomination on the “Welcome” mat at the White House because of the nihilism and willingness of Republican Senators to destroy institutional norms and imperil our democracy paid huge dividends (yay!). And an army of alt-Right, white supremacist dogs across the nation already biting our neighbors, colleagues, and friends. They’ve heard the whistles. They know what to do. Now is the time for action

We are still waiting for Donald Trump to denounce and condemn the acts of violence being perpetrated in his name. Instead, we get tweets from the President-Elect claiming protests are "unfair".  

So, no. I’m not going to “give him a chance.” Donald Trump’s success in the primary and his nomination by the GOP was an opportunity for everyone to say, “Wow, looks like our democracy might be more fragile than we thought.” His election to the Presidency puts that democracy on a razor’s edge. Trump’s thuggishness and obvious admiration for authoritarians, his hard-core supporters’ brutality, and the willingness of Republicans I otherwise know to be decent, Christian people who love their families and work hard to fall in line behind Trump all combine to form a terrifying threat to our republic. 

The moment we give Donald Trump a “chance” is the moment we lose. How much will we lose? Which one of our freedoms will go first? Which ones will remain after Trump is gone? 

Which rights are luxuries?

Which one of our friends will be  injured or dead when Trump-empowered thugs come to terrorize our communities?

So, fuck no, I’m not giving Donald Trump a chance. 

Maybe you are saying now, "But, Ben, doesn't not giving Donald Trump a chance make us as bad as Republicans who just delayed and obstructed for eight years?"

No. No it doesn't.

Why? Because Donald Trump is no Barack Obama. If you can't appreciate the difference between the two men, I need you to stop reading. This essay is not for you. 

Before Donald Trump was elected, I was a husband and dad who worked as an attorney protecting homeowners from foreclosure, trying to prevent tenants from getting evicted, and trying to stop creditors from abusing poor people. I’m still going to be a husband, dad, and lawyer, but now the work I have to do—the work we all have to do—is not giving Donald Trump a single chance. 

What that work looks like is going to be different for each person, of course.

Photo Credit: Pabak Sarkar

Photo Credit: Pabak Sarkar

For me, it will mean more writing, more reading, and a hell of a lot more meetings. Union meetings. Community meetings. Church meetings. Political meetings. Rallys. Protests. Vigils. Trips to Frankfort. Trips to Washington. Trips across Kentucky for more meetings. Goddamn, it's going to be so much work not giving this guy a single fucking chance. And, what’s worse, is that I’m going to have to somehow summon some kindness, empathy, compassion, grit, faith, and honesty. It would be so much easier to be fueled by anger and fear, but we know that any work worth doing is worth doing with love, hanging taut between patience and urgency. 

Since Tuesday, I have been reading and listening and talking to try to prepare for the fight ahead. I'm know that nothing I've said here is particularly ground-breaking or original. But, I need to say it, publicly, because I need for my friends, family, and allies to know that I am going to resist Donald Trump's America—as I told my Trump-supporting family member—"with every fiber of my being." 

For me and for the majority of people who voted on Tuesday, Donald Trump has already had enough chances. Time and again, he blew them and disqualified himself long, long ago. 

He’s out of chances and he’s not even in office. Sad. 


A Few Thoughts Above Plymouth Rock

by Ben Carter


For the last ten days, I have been visiting my in-laws in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Will, Sarah, and I have been staying in the guest bedroom in their second-floor condo overlooking Plymouth Harbor. The portico that houses Plymouth Rock is fifty yards from their balcony. It is a fantastic view. 

We’re here in Plymouth to enjoy family and let our family enjoy Will, the Best Kid Ever™. Rightfully, I run a distant third to Will and Sarah in terms of interest, ranking just above superfluity. So, I spend a lot of time in the living room looking out at Plymouth Harbor and the Rock below. 

As a tourist destination, Plymouth Rock is terrible. As one website said, “it never fails to underwhelm” and, “Two words inevitably cross the lips of first-time visitors to Plymouth Rock, ‘That’s it?’”   

It’s true: it’s just a rock and, unlike out West where the size, color, arching grace or precarious balance of the rock can impress, this rock is a smallish boulder of granite with “1620” etched on it. Much love to you, Plymouth, but come on. 

Dudes from the Old Colony Club gather to fire their minicannon above Plymouth Rock on the Fourth of July. 

Dudes from the Old Colony Club gather to fire their minicannon above Plymouth Rock on the Fourth of July. 

Nevertheless, I can testify from personal observation that people throng to The Rock. Now, as I type, on a Thursday afternoon, there are 20 people down there. Students, retirees, families. All leaning over the railing and staring down at this dumb rock. Taking selfies with a rock. No town has ever done more with less. 

We know that The Rock is not the place the Pilgrims first set foot on what would become American soil. They landed in Provincetown first. And, the historical provenance of The Rock as the actual Rock is pretty suspect, as well. So, unlike going to see the Declaration of Independence or the Liberty Bell, it’s not clear that The Rock is even an authentic piece of history. 

Instead, people are drawn to the Rock not for its historical pedigree, but rather for the idea represented by The Rock. 

Here. Here is where we shed the old thinking and old ways. 

Here. Here at this place we slough off the too hot, too itchy, too oppressive garb of the old world. 

Here. Here we can become our truest selves. Here we will make our lives and conform them to our consciences and the will of our God. 

Gratuitous photo of our two-year anniversary jetty walk. 

Gratuitous photo of our two-year anniversary jetty walk. 

It should be no surprise, then, that some of the people most excited to visit The Rock are those who have most recently arrived in the United States. Or, those most likely to live under someone else’s oppressive dictates. Visiting The Rock, as I do almost every day while I’m here, one finds a family from India speaking quickly about where to eat lunch, two women wearing hijabs asking a passerby to take their picture, children yelling in Spanish, a young man from Africa asking a tour guide a question. Last night, Sarah and I walked the Plymouth jetty to celebrate two years of wedded bliss. We passed two groups of people speaking languages at which we could only guess: Portuguese? Catalan? Quechua? 

America, thank God, will never look or sound like what it has before. Stasis has never been the American way. We replace a satisfaction with the status quo with a trip across the ocean. An irresistible striving defines our existence. (Well, that and our willingness to enslave and kill, pillage and plunder.) 

Thanks to the Trump campaign and the backlash to the Black Lives Matter movement, it has become painfully obvious in 2016 that a large swath of White America is (still) uncomfortable with brown and black people and America’s growing diversity. This discomfort leads them to the fundamentally unAmerican conclusion that what we need is more and bigger walls. It compels them to insist that “All Lives Matter” when, in fact, there has never been a question that white lives matter, only whether black lives will ever matter in America. An essential part of being conservative in America, of being a Trump supporter in 2016, is being white and nostalgic for a status quo that put whiteness on top. Or, if not on top, at least comfortably in the middle without much effort or luck. 

But, here at Plymouth Rock we can tell ourselves a story about our founding that is as relevant and hopeful today as it was in 1620: we are a people that embrace change, we are willing to endure profound hardships for the opportunity to live free, we can never be satisfied with the status quo when the status quo includes oppression, injustice, and unfairness. 

Like it or not, we are all on this boat together. And, Plymouth Rock—dumb, anticlimactic, potentially fake Plymouth Rock—reminds us that we are at our best as Americans when we are seeking a new world, a new life, a new justice for all people whether their ancestors came over on the Mayflower or they are just stepping foot on our shores today. What was and what is is not us. What will be: that is who we are. No wonder people flock to America's most hopeful, most forward-looking rock. 

For those about to Rock, I salute you. 


How Democrats Win the Senate Next Year in Kentucky

by Ben Carter in


It started innocently enough. After reading that Rand Paul’s new book had only sold 500 copies and frustrated with the recent defeats of the Kentucky Democratic Party’s candidates, I tweeted a couple weeks ago: 

After sending the tweet, the idea sort of stuck around, though. I started thinking, “You know, it’s not the craziest idea ever. I mean, it’s not crazy like balancing the budget on the backs of poor people.”

A young person, running with a populist message, hellbent on inspiring and organizing Kentucky’s Democratic base to vote and encourage others to vote—that might just work. Matt Bevin may just ruin the Republican brand in time for the November election. Hillary at the top of the ticket and more people voting in 2016 helps the Democratic candidate, as well. And, the longer Rand Paul stays in this crazy Republican primary, the longer he is ignoring Kentucky and saying unhelpful, callous things in a futile effort to stay competitive. 

So, I thought about it. I talked with some people about it. The more I thought about it and the more I talked about it, the more two things became clear: 1) this race is winnable by the right candidate and 2) the timing just couldn’t be worse for me to run. 

I have a number of reasons for wanting to run. But, I have three excellent reasons not to. 

will&sarah
ben&josh&vickie

Ultimately, the people I talked with who knew best were able to get through my thick skull something I didn’t want to but needed to hear: running would mean being a candidate first and a father, husband, and lawyer second. That’s not a sacrifice I’m willing to make. 

But, I did get far enough in the process to write an announcement speech last Saturday morning. I am sharing it with you because I hope we can create the space in Kentucky for a candidate to say these kinds of things and run this kind of campaign. I think it’s the only kind of campaign that has a chance of winning because to win we must honor the Democratic Party’s roots in the hard, frustrating work of organizing and speak authentically on the core issues that motivate Democrats to organize and vote. 


Thank you for joining me this morning. I’m launching my campaign for United States Senate today because I believe Kentucky deserves a Senator whose primary mission is improving the financial security of Kentucky’s working families. As an attorney, I work every day with poor and struggling middle class families. Homeowners facing foreclosure, tenants facing eviction, debtors facing abusive debt collectors, moms and dads facing bankruptcy because of medical bills, young people wondering how they’re going to get to a job interview because the lemon a car dealer just sold them won’t start. College graduates wondering what to do about student loan debt. 

Everywhere, everyday, too many Kentuckians are wondering how they're going to make it to the next payday, whether today is the day that it all falls apart. 

This wasn’t my reality growing up. I hit the lottery: two loving parents in a financially secure home. My mom stayed at home with my sister and me and helped us every step of our journey. My dad is still the hardest-working person I know despite the fact that he recently retired from a job helping to run a coal business. Growing up, I had every single opportunity that love or money could buy. In many ways, the fact that we talk about “hitting the lottery” when talking about what families we’re born into is why I’m running: opportunity in America shouldn’t be available only to the lucky kids. It’s our responsibility as Americans to create systems and programs that ensure that every kid has the same chance to succeed. That’s what living in a meritocracy is. 

For many of us, ensuring that every child grows up safe and with an opportunity to succeed is motivated by our faith. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists all agree: caring for the poor, insisting on compassionate treatment of all people, protecting the elderly, the vulnerable, standing in solidarity with the marginalized and oppressed, welcoming the outsider—these are compelled by our faith. You don’t have to have faith for these to be your values, but if you do have faith, I don’t understand how they’re not your values. 

If I’m in town, I’m in the pews of Douglass Boulevard Christian Church. My faith is part of who I am and without a doubt informs the work I do and the work I will do as a Senator. I don’t begrudge anyone whose politics is influenced by their faith. Religions help us understand and negotiate how we live in community with one another, about how we live out our shared commitments to each other. And, as a government by the people, our government is how we live out those commitments to one another. 

So, it is natural that our religious beliefs and worldviews should inform our politics. But, it’s not enough to simply have faith. In America in 2015, you’ve got to have facts, too. You can’t say, “I don’t believe in climate change because I’m not a scientist and God said after the flood that he’d never destroy the world again.” The facts suggest that human pollution is altering the climate of our planet. And, I believe being good stewards of our land, air, and water is a Biblical imperative.  

If you want to know where I stand on issues, ask yourself what would help working families, poor kids, vulnerable senior citizens, the downtrodden, and the forgotten. It is our responsibility to provide basic health care for all people. To insure that people have the opportunity to work safely and for a wages that allow them to provide the basic needs to their families. To build affordable housing for every person and every family. To build an affordable educational system accessible to every young person. To protect refugees and welcome immigrants. To ensure that people can age with dignity. 

On these issues, Democrats have a lot to be proud of. We have created 8.3 million new jobs during the Obama administration. Under Bush, the economy lost 463,000 jobs in eight years. Unemployment has declined from reduced unemployment from 10% to 5%. Together, Democrats in Kentucky like Steve Beshear and in Washington have expanded affordable health care access to more than 500,000 Kentuckians. All while being fought every step of the way by a know-nothing, do-nothing Republican Congress. 

Did I vote for Obama? Hell yes, I did. Twice. And, I’d do it a third time if I could. 

Nevertheless, the election results earlier this month demonstrate that Democrats have a real problem in Kentucky. The motivating theory of this campaign is that Democrats have a lot of work to do in living rooms, fellowship halls, coffee shops, bars, and on doorsteps across the Commonwealth to listen, persuade, and motivate. Now is not the time to rest. Now is the time to organize. Our odds are long and our time is short, but the stakes for Kentucky’s working families are too high to not do the work. Our campaign will build an organization—rooted in every single county in Kentucky—with one goal: training and empowering our friends, neighbors, and family to get their friends, neighbors, and families to the polls on November 8th, 2016. If we can’t energize the people who didn’t vote in this last election to vote for us in 2016, we won’t win. We need them to vote. To vote for a future that is possible, but only if we organize for it, work for it, and insist upon it.

When Democrats get to work, people get to work. When Democrats tell their story, the stories of working families have better endings. Please go to my website: sign up, donate, and share this with your friends. The work begins today. Right now. 


Obviously, my work on a Senate campaign does not begin today. I'm a little sad that I don't get to give this speech and run this campaign—we would have had a lot of fun in this fight. It's easy to not be too sad, though, knowing I made the right decision for my family and my law practice. 

But, I hope to get to work on a campaign that shares the values articulated in this speech and that will speak unapologetically to Kentucky's voters about the Democratic Party's unparalleled record of creating economic security for Kentucky's families and representing the best of human nature: compassion, courage, generosity, and empathy. 


Spiritual Revolution

by Ben Carter


On a Sunday, I'm going to talk about spiritual revolution.

Political reform? Yes. We need to stop electing representatives from gerrymandered districts. We need to make it easier, not harder, for everyone to vote.

But.

We also need to work on ourselves. On our spirits. The best, fairest election processes will only elect representatives that accurately reflect the citizens voting.

What do those citizens want? Do they go to the ballot filled with fear and anger? Or, do they go to the ballot courageously, generously, compassionately?

We are covered with scales. We are suspicious of those around us. We believe they are "getting away with something". With what? We're not sure. But, they are not to be trusted and are not deserving.

We need a spiritual revolution. The greatness of my generation will be measured by how well we translate our ability to generate remarkable wealth into a guarantee that everyone in America can live in basic dignity.

We only get that kind of politics when citizens come to terms individually with the fact that—no matter what—we will die and come to believe that our unavoidable, impending deaths is not a call to grab everything while we can, but to let everything go with as much grace and love we can muster. For me, that's a spiritual revolution. It's why I sit in the pews of Douglass Boulevard Christian Church most Sundays praying for the courage to let go of the things I love and the things I despise.

"Poverty is not natural. It is manmade, and it can be eradicated by the actions of human beings." What Mandela calls for in this video requires a spiritual revolution. Bob Marley was praying for a spiritual revolution in "Redemption Song": emancipation from mental slavery.

I pray today that we can each find spiritual homes and spiritual guides that will help us dedicate ourselves to the unglorious work that history will most certainly forget of loving each other well.