An open letter to Deidre DeJear

A message from Olivia Habinck, president of College and Young Democrats of Iowa, and Josh Hughes, former president of Drake University Democrats. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Deidre–

We have cried together in public just two times. Both times, they were for you.

In June, the joy of seeing you win a primary election ran over and out the corners of our eyes as slowly but surely, your lead in the polls held, and you declared victory.

This week, the deep despair for the Iowa that might have been welled over, and we cried then too.

In just five short months, you did something incredible. You made history, yes, but you never lost your vision. No Iowa candidate has ever been as committed to the power of the ballot than you, and no one has done more to fight for equal access to it. Your message was brilliantly simple, and radically progressive: the vote is mightier. When voters could easily have been demoralized by incendiary campaigns and vitriolic rhetoric, still you rose; offering a positive and inspiring message that so many of us believe in still.

Governor Ann Richards said that women can do everything that men can, but women must do it backward and in high heels. And as a woman of color, society left you even an even margin for error, while asking you to do and be more. But you did– and did it with stunning grace, dogged determinism, and irresistible magnetism.

And so, we thank you Deidre DeJear.

For breaking down the barriers for the army of Democracy Defenders behind and beside you, thank you.

For reminding us of the radical power of the vote, thank you.

For giving marginalized communities a voice, and showing us how to bring our own folding chairs, thank you.

For standing up to the injustice of voter suppression while others looked away, thank you.

For laughing with us, and crying with us too, thank you.

Two years ago this morning, we cried for a president and a nation that might’ve been. And today, we grieve for the Iowa that might’ve been. But words from that November 9, 2016 ring as true today as they were then:

“This loss hurts. But please, never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.”

Deidre, for showing us why it’s all worth it– thank you.

— Olivia Habinck and Josh Hughes

Top image: Deidre DeJear with Josh Hughes and Olivia Habinck at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding in Clear Lake, August 2018. Photo by Claire Celsi, used with permission.

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