Heads up, Republicans: I have an announcement. I just made some of the biggest political donations of my life. I made them to your opponents. I made them to candidates I might not even have followed years ago, senators and governors in other states. I live in California, in an area where I mostly agree with what my representatives are doing. To canvass in other districts where I support opposition candidates, I'd have to drive about two hours. Since I'm a working mom and I keep long hours, sometimes I just don't have the time to spare.
Nevertheless, I think about each of you often — and not in the way you'd like. Mitch McConnell, Devin Nunes, Susan Collins, Brian Kemp: A couple of years ago I might not have even known who you were, or cared. Now, your party -- from Donald Trump to Lindsey Graham to Dean Heller -- is giving me hives. I want you gone.
And that is why I spent the year saving all the money I could to get you out of the way. First of all, I've got to say: I don't have a lot of money. I am, for heaven's sake, a poet. I am also busy raising two kids in what is among the world's most expensive metropolitan regions. And in other years, I might have chosen to tune you out, not to care about how you affect my life or the lives of others. But I am furious at you, and I'm willing to scrimp a little so I can try to oust you, one by one.
In our house this means we are basically not buying any new stuff until Donald Trump is no longer president. This sounds drastic, but indeed, it's actually been sort of fun. We've been doing it for nearly two years now, and it's begun to feel like a comfortable new normal.
Now, I am going to be honest: In two years, we slipped up a couple of times. A piece of my luggage was stolen and I had to replace my blazer and trusty pencil skirt. We bought a heat lamp for the backyard, which I am so grateful for. I did just buy the kids new Halloween costumes rather than scour used stores for the ones they wanted. And: I did consign old clothes and allow myself to shop at consignment stores for free or very low-budget purchases, which was actually a fun way to let off steam.
Honestly, though, for the last two years, we've mostly practiced saying no. Not buying stuff we don't need has felt like a good way to hold our anger. It felt sustainable, peaceful even. At the beginning of this year, I read an article in The New York Times in which Ann Patchett makes the process of not shopping sound fun. I agree, and I liked it, too. I enjoyed the clean mantra of no; the reminder to focus on what mattered, and a sense that I was building a practice that might sustain us a bit in these hard days.
This mindfulness was a bit of a lifestyle change. But we've been doing it for almost two years now, and to be honest, I like it. We look at stuff and remember that we are simply too upset to be good American consumers. You're poisoning our air and our water, so guess what? I don't want to shop!
Honestly, the decision to start saving my money to fund your opponents hardly felt like a decision. It began as a gut reaction to the election of a President who bragged on tape about assaulting women. It continued when that President instituted a racially biased travel ban, threatened our public lands, took our climate data off the federal website, separated families at the border.
Case in point: a few days after the election, my lovely cousin, who sells excellent makeup, offered me some great moisturizer and super cute luxe burgundy lipstick on sale. I found these words coming out of my mouth: "No thanks, Becky, I am too upset to shop." I love my cousin. I love her cosmetics. But that morning I wrote back from my heart. No, I did not want to buy a thing until the world felt better. I did not need lipstick. I needed Donald Trump out of the White House.
That feeling -- I am too upset to shop -- has turned out to be an informative one, one that's grown and held steady in our house and in my heart longer than I would have expected. Like many people, I'm committed to getting organized, changing our culture and shifting government at the state and local levels. I'm ready for a long haul push.
Like a lot of people, I started small: monthly donations to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. But I knew it was going to need to be bigger. The daily news is too appalling. Whether it's kids detained at the border or erasing trans rights, I simply read the news and recommit: I don't want to shop. I want these politicians gone.
In fact, as my husband and I sat with our budget this past year, we came up with a hard and fast stance. No new clothes. No dumb impulse purchases. Cut the fat and save it for the fight. We had some exceptions -- new running shoes, since my husband and I run about 20 miles a week. New underwear, of course. And, though I'm fine passing hand-me-downs to our kids, it's sometimes ridiculously hard to find used boy's pants, as 7-year-olds who play are not particularly good at conserving their jeans.
We're not perfectionists. But what we meant was — no extra silly hot pink T-shirts in Target. No goofy sunglasses just because. No impulse buying because the lady on Instagram looked so good in it. No wandering around a big box store picking up some odd little knickknack, or extra eyeshadow, and glazing out while the credit card bill added up.
All this makes me sound like I'm a rich and flaky shopper. No, I'm not that rich. Yes, I probably was a little flaky. I mean, who doesn't like a new cute sweater, or a little lipstick escapism from time to time? But this year, I just practiced saying no. We looked at what we'd spent last year and what we were saving, and we made a choice: We are donating it to politicians who can help make a difference.
Indeed, each week gave me a place to put my frustration: When I'd hear Devin Nunes refuse to ask for Trump's tax returns, I'd think, great, Devin, I'm saving money for your opposition, Andrew Janz. When I'd hear Susan Collins' absurd and bloviating speech about why she's voting for Brett Kavanaugh, I felt happy to fund her future opponent, too. I sent money to the opponents of people who irritated me most. And I sent money to women and people of color who excite me: Hello, Stacey Abrams, I am rooting for you! I was also able to send a pretty generous check to Flippable, an organization that works to fund progressives up and down the ticket, in many states, and works on the state level.
It felt tremendous to be able to write the most recent checks. They are to Jacky Rosen -- because Dean Heller of Nevada isn't standing up against the destruction of public lands. They're to Janz, because Nunes won't ask for Donald Trump's tax returns. They're to Heidi Heitkamp, because she was so brave to vote against Kavanaugh, and because she's a terrific senator. And they were to Flippable, because I like the way they are funding people in critical races I may not even know about.
So, Rosen, Abrams, Janz and Heitkamp: Thank you. I was happy to be in the fight with you. You mean a lot more to me than any sweater at Banana Republic. We did this for you, but we also did this for the environment, for girls who deserve to grow up free from rape culture, for kids and families at the border who deserve dignity. It's hardly enough, because it can never be enough, but in this simple way, we were joyful working for change.
Meanwhile, Republicans: Take note -- a lot of women are doing this, in one way or another. And no matter who wins on Tuesday, I'm not tired. I'm in it. This no-shopping-keep-giving process wasn't hard, and we'll do it again. I'm considering inviting a bunch of women to join me. And, hi there, CEOs of all the places I used to accidentally waste money: I'm not saying you're at fault. I'm just saying: I just don't feel like shopping right now. And I won't until the country feels a whole lot better.