On March 22, 2018, Friends Journal and the Earlham School of Religion co-sponsored a live web panel with six first-time candidates for U.S. Congressional seats. Find out what motivated these first-time candidates to give up their privacy for the glare of public service.
Does faith influence values? Can it be a factor in governance without closing the gap between church and state? If faith and values have a place in the discussion, what might it mean to be a quaker and run for Congress? How do Quakers relate to the governing of the country? Earlham College President Alan Price moderated the two-hour panel discussion with Quaker U.S. Congressional candidates:
- Steve Bacher (Pennsylvania 8th District, @stevebacher)
- Adam Coker (North Carolina 13th District, @AdamFromNC)
- Darlene McDonald (Utah 4th District, @VoteDarlene)
- Shawna Roberts (Ohio 6th District, @RobertsOhioD6)
- Molly Sheehan (Pennsylvania 5th District, @pennsymolly)
- Nick Thomas (Colorado 2nd District, @NickT4Congress)
Due to technical snafus, the first few minutes of the recording were lost.
Nick Thomas: I was just out in Pennsylvania with the ReFormers Caucus. And we were standing in Constitution Hall, where a number of Quakers were there helping sign the Declaration of Independence. So although it has not been as much of a time-honored tradition as recent, I also think it’s not a big leap for a Quaker to jump into politics. And it’s a necessary place for Quakers to be—particularly, as Molly mentioned, given what’s going on today, what the conversation entails.
On a personal note, I felt drawn to do this basically because of the baseball game last June. Briefly, somebody approached the practice field two days before the Congressional baseball game out in D.C. and said, “Are these Democrats or Republicans practicing on the field?” And one of the aides responded that it was the Republicans. And this man pulled out a weapon and opened fire.
And so I went to the game two days later to support that and sat with John Lewis in the stands, who’s an old family friend, and talked about this strangeness of watching the Democrats and Republicans line up together, and pray together, and hug each other, and then play ball together—this moment in D.C. which was so severely lacking—and then continued two days later with the two parties at each other’s throats. And to me, it was less about getting into politics and more about the realization that right now, in this moment, in this time, we need more independents. We need more people who will breach the divide, the tribalism, in America and cross that path.
So that’s why I did it. It was not part of the agenda. It was not step one. But it was something I felt I needed to do. And the other thing I’ll say is flying back, as I thought about this, I called Ambassador Andrew Young, who’d been a lifelong mentor in diplomacy.
I said, “What do you think? You’re a diplomatic guy. What do you think of running as an independent? And what do you think of running right now in this moment?” And his response was, “You know, I was actually a Congressman in the ‘70s.”
I hadn’t realized that, but—“I was a Congressman in the ‘70s, and I was the only Democrat to go to the Republican breakfast every week. And back then, it was partisan. Now it’s tribal. We need independents. I’ll be your first endorser. Get in there.”
Alan Price: Thank you.
Nick Thomas: But particularly, as the Quaker background, particularly Quakers. So thank you for having us today.
Alan Price: No, thank you. Appreciate having you here. Darlene, can you tell us your story of how you were called to run?
Darlene McDonald: Hi. I wanted to say thank you for having me here today and for hosting this forum. Can you see me OK?
Alan Price: I see you fine. And I hear you perfectly well.
Darlene McDonald: OK. Good. So my call to run really—so I would say at the end of the 2016 election, I’m sure I, like many people, just felt this sense of heaviness come upon me. And what I felt mostly was a certain sense of loss of the hard work that many people, specifically many civil rights leaders, have fought for. And I immediately felt like we were going to go backwards in this country—and backwards in a sense of many things that were fought for for centuries.
And Nick had mentioned the work of John Lewis and sitting with John Lewis. That is what I felt at the end of the 2016 election, but I didn’t actually make the call to run until I saw what was happening with the healthcare law. In my embrace with Quakerism, one of the phrases that I use a lot is, “Let your life speak.”
And that rings so true to me, that we have to live our life. And our public policy should reflect the life of what we live. And I saw all around me the policies that were put into place that does a lot of harm to a lot of people like my family and the people that I love—and when you talked about immigration as well and healthcare and even just the economy.
Nick talked about the banks and what happened with the Consumer Protection Bureau, the CFPD, and what was happening with that. And we know what happened when the economy crashed and how minority communities were specifically targeted for subprime mortgages. And I just said to myself, “Now is the time.”
And I couldn’t no longer just be a witness to what was happening. I felt like I had to actually be an active participant. And so I just looked at my husband. And I just said, “I have to do this.”
And he said, “I know.” (LAUGHING) So that was my call to run. And that is why I’m running—to really just try to make a change, to show up, and to put the people, bring the people, back into politics.
Alan Price: Darlene McDonald, thank you very much. I appreciate hearing that background. Steve Bacher, if you can tell us about what called you to run in this moment.
Steve Bacher: Thank you. And I just want to say what an honor it is to be here. And thank you for organizing this. Myself, I’m a convinced Quaker. We’ve been raising our children and going to meeting for the last five years. So I’m a relatively new Quaker.
But I have felt called to be involved in stewardship of the Earth going back to 1992 when I stumbled on Al Gore on C-SPAN talking about his then new book while he was a Senator, Earth in the Balance. And I read Earth in the Balance, and was inspired by it, and initially wanted to go to Washington to work for Senator Gore. And I ended up getting involved in the Clinton-Gore campaign.
And one thing led to another. And several years later, I ran for a county-wide office with a focus on environmental issues. And here in Bucks County, I’ve been disappointed the last several cycles that the candidates in both parties haven’t talked as much as I would’ve liked about climate change, and the danger it is to the planet, and the need for us to do something urgently about it.
And so it’s been in the back of my mind to put my own voice out there, to jump into the ring, to give voice in particular to that. Although in my candidacy I’m talking about many, many, many issues, climate change is the number one thing that I’m making sure I mention in every venue. And stewardship obviously is the spiritual base that that comes from.
Alan Price: Steve Bacher, thank you. That’s very interesting. I’m now going to turn us over to Shawna Roberts to tell us her story about what called her to run for office in this moment.
Shawna Roberts: OK. I’m Shawna Roberts. And I am a stay-at-home mom. I have five kids I’ve raised here in this area. In my district, roughly 70% of the vote went to Donald Trump in 2016. And I had not been involved in politics before that. After that, I got involved. It just didn’t seem right that so many people could be lied to so easily.
And so I got involved. I started making phone calls. I started lying down on sidewalks. The healthcare was extremely important to me and my family. And so we got involved.
And then in late October, my Indivisible group met. And we were trying to figure out who was going to run for Congress against our current representative, who we knew had been ignoring us and had been ignoring the district for the last eight years because he knew he was going to win every time. So we were concerned.
We were looking for people to help us. And we didn’t find anybody, interestingly. So we decided that we were going to be our own leaders, and I ran. (LAUGHING) So it was an interesting moment. I just—the problem I had was that our current incumbent representative has been ignoring people here for so long and has been lying to people about what is good for them for so long that the people in this area are worse off than they were eight years ago. And that was the height of the recession.
And so I have a friend who calls it the mama bear candidate because I just couldn’t stand it anymore. It was time to stand up and tell people that this wasn’t right. So we’re planting seeds.
And even if we don’t win this time, at least people will know that there’s options. And that’s very important. So that’s why we started doing it here. And that’s why I’m here today. And I’m really grateful for this opportunity. Thank you.
Alan Price: Shawna Roberts, thank you very much. We now turn the mic over to Adam Coker in North Carolina. What called you to run in this moment in time?
Adam Coker: Hello. I’m Adam, down here in Greensboro, North Carolina, a city founded by Quakers. And in 2014, my first son was born, my only child. And he had to have open-heart surgery shortly after he was born to save his life. During that month, I was in the hospital during the midterms of 2014. And I made a decision that I would always fight to turn our country around.
It cost over a half million dollars to save his life. And we met a lot of people in the hospital who didn’t have health insurance and whose children were going through those similar heart surgeries. I’ve been a truck driver for five years. I’ve crossed the country hundreds of times.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been through Richmond, Indiana. Looking forward to stop one day, but I just see so much of the country. I’ve been to so many parts of the country after some of our biggest disasters—the recent hurricanes in Florida to Katrina in 2005. I just feel a deep connection to lots of places in the country.
And I feel like working people need representation in Washington. And I ran in 2016, and I missed the nomination by 500 votes. So there are 650,000 people in the district.
We have built a large foundation to grow from. And there’s a lot of excitement this race. So second round for me, and I look forward to learning from the other Friends in this discussion.
Alan Price: Thank you, Adam. And as an aside, next time you come through Richmond, you’re welcome on campus anytime. Love to see you.
Adam Coker: Thank you.
Alan Price: Let me ask this. As you are very well aware, much of America really doesn’t have a great understanding of what Quakerism is. For some, their only connection with the word is the image on the Quaker Oats box. So I would ask you how much do—are you upfront about your Quakerism?
Do you educate people about Quakerism? Or what kinds of sort of daily ignorance about Quakerism do you run into that you feel like you must overcome in order to be a successful candidate? I’m going to start with Darlene McDonald on this one.
Darlene McDonald: That’s an interesting question. I actually ran into that not too long ago. And someone confused us with the Amish. (LAUGHING) And I had to say, no, we do technology, among other things. So I had to clear that up really quickly.
But we actually have a very good relationship here in Utah, as Utah is predominantly LDS. But the LDS community really embraced the Quaker community, especially for their work with nuclear proliferation and the nonviolent work as well. So I’m lucky in that way that I am embraced by the LDS community here, and there’s a good relationship between the LDS community and those of Quaker faith.
So I haven’t had too many issues with that. I will say the biggest surprise really is the fact that knowing that there are Quakers in Utah, and one of them happens to be African-American. (LAUGHING) That’s probably the biggest surprise more than anything. I’m such an anomaly.
But we have a good relationship. And I don’t really have to get into teaching so much as to what Quakerism is about because they know, and especially with our work with the nonviolence, and being against war, and war is not the answer. So that’s good for me.
Alan Price: Great. Thank you. Shawna Roberts, how have you run into this?
Shawna Roberts: I haven’t run into it much. I did have somebody who was concerned about meeting me at a bar. They suggested that I meet them at a bar. And I showed up. And then they realized I was a Quaker, and they were concerned. And I said, “OK, it’s fine.”
And other than that, we’ve had not too much issues with the race itself. In the past, I’ve been confused with the Amish. And I’ve had a lot of people—we have an Amish community here that’s relatively large.
And so people will say to me, “Oh, do you know so-and-so? You must obviously hang out with them. You must know them.” Well, we do know some of them, but we’re not Amish.
So it has been something that I have used Bible verses occasionally. Because I am a First Day School teacher, so I do that occasionally. And there are people who are a little hesitant about that because, as you know, religion can be used as a bludgeon. And so sometimes people are hesitant about that.
But other than that, we haven’t had too much of an issue. I have not made it a real big part of who I am and why I’m running because religion is—it’s my foundation, but it’s not why—I don’t want people to become Quakers. I want them to have equality and justice. And so we don’t have to talk too much about why as long as we’re talking about what and how.
Alan Price: Very good, Shawna. Thank you. Steve Bacher, how have you run across this?
Steve Bacher: Well, actually, so here in Bucks County, I’m a member of Newtown Monthly Meeting. And Newtown was founded by William Penn. And I have people supporting my campaign from Wrightstown Meeting and Fallsington Meeting as well as Newtown Meeting. So we’re not so much an anomaly in this part of the world. Most people I’ve come across are familiar with the Quakers, and it’s not so much an issue.
Alan Price: I’m glad it’s been so smooth a transition for you. Molly, how’s it going for you there?
Molly Sheehan: Yeah. Like Steve, I’m in South Philadelphia and the Philadelphia suburbs also. And so people are very familiar with Quakers. There’s Quaker meetings everywhere. A lot of progressives send their kids to Quaker school here and have friends that go to meeting. I wouldn’t say they have a deep understanding of Quakerism.
But it usually comes up because I used to help run the Middle School Friends program for Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. So I meet people sometimes also that used to be my middle schoolers. Or people just know I used to do it and that I went to Haverford College, which is another formerly Quaker school. And so people have a very good perception of Quakers here, especially because they really like the college. And it’s open campus.
Although I will say people—it comes up the most on foreign policy when people say, “Oh, well, she’s a Quaker. So you don’t have to ask her about all these things.” Because they kind of assume—and it’s true. I do feel the standard Quaker line. And that’s what people really know about Quakers—nonimperialists and peace.
But it also, I think, helps me. My district in Delaware County is very Catholic. And most of the Democrats running are secular. And actually, I think having a religion allows me to kind of bridge the—Quakerism specifically bridges the secular and Catholic worlds.
That I do have a faith tradition. That I understand the value of that. That I’m not as off-putting to the Catholic community as someone who has just been completely secular and rejected religion. And then people that are secular or humanist also generally like Quakers. So I do think it’s—obviously, I didn’t choose it, but it has messaging help in terms of everyone kind of has a positive perception of Quakers here.
Alan Price: Terrific. Adam, your thoughts on this? How have you run across it?
Adam Coker: So being from Greensboro, it’s somewhat helpful. Particularly, there are a great deal of people in our Jewish community here. And the Jewish community and the Quaker community have a deep sense of collaboration and interdependencies here for justice and for education. From Guilford College to several of the public schools here in Greensboro were founded by Quakers.
And so I think that it hasn’t come up very much in my race at all. Every now and then, it comes up, but it’s only come up two or three times and mostly as a conversation starter. I can’t say I’ve ever run into a person who had a strong aversion because I claimed to practice my faith with Friends. And so it’s been a conversation starter here in Greensboro.
Alan Price: Great. Nick, what has your experience been in Colorado?
Nick Thomas: Well, I’ll tell you, similar to everybody else. A lot of times, particularly from younger generations, you get the, “Oh, you guys are the oatmeal box.” Or if they’ve heard of them, “Oh, you are the Amish.”
In Boulder, it’s less of an issue. The Boulder Quaker Meeting, the Boulder Friends Meeting, that I was basically born into and grew up with had people like Gilbert White, who worked politically in D.C. quite a bit and was the big water guy across the United States, and then Jack and Ruth Powelson, who actually founded U.S. Institute of Peace under Carter out in D.C. So on one hand, there’s not as many Quakers certainly in the West. And when I say the West, I’m thinking a little west of you.
But at the same time, particularly in our area, if you have heard of them, you usually have a pretty positive view on that, which is good. That being said, per your initial question, I actually don’t voice that a lot when I run. On one hand, I appreciate when others have faith of different forms.
On the other hand, I think one of the most beautiful things about a Quaker upbringing is acceptance of everyone else’s religion. And at the same time, for me, I really do appreciate a separation of church and state. And I rarely will bring up religion unless it is very impactful specifically for the issue we’re talking about such as, at times, gun control.
And gun control, I don’t even bring in the religious side, or gun safety. We talk about more of what that means to Quakers. And I’m sure we’ll get into that. But for issues, yes, as a general rule, I don’t mention it until there’s a need.
Alan Price: Terrific. Let me follow up on an earlier answer that you each gave in terms of what called you to run in the first place. I heard quite a wide variety of responses, everything from national issues called you to run to local constituents and their conditions called you to run to personal events called you to run. And I found that, in some ways, emblematic of the American experience.
And I really appreciated hearing that directly from you. I would ask you this. If you could— and I will have a rider here for Steve because he’s already identified one issue—but if you could wave your magic wand, have tremendous influence, and make one policy change for your constituents or the nation, what would that be? If I could start with Adam.
Adam Coker: Wow. That’s great to go first. It’s a tough call between two things. But I think that the most critical issue facing the country right now in terms of the economy and the coming gig economy is to have an option to opt out of the for-profit healthcare system. And in my opinion, that would be with providing Medicare for all, or allowing taxpayers to use collective bargaining through accessing and participating in the healthcare system through Medicare for all.
Alan Price: Thank you, Adam. Nick, what would you aim for?
Nick Thomas: So it’s a tough question. So I apologize for being a little winded on this one. But when I was thinking about this early on, and I thought, “What are the big issues facing us?,” this was one of the reasons.
This exactly was one of the reasons that I really decided to run as an independent. Not only was I a lifetime independent, but I believed you couldn’t tackle any of these major issues without having bipartisan compromise. Adam just mentioned the healthcare.
Healthcare originally was a deal between Hillary Clinton and Newt Gingrich that was not passed, and then Romney passed. And then Obama brought it forth. But having to deal with the Democratic powers and being gutted by the Republican powers, we ended up with a terrible healthcare system.
But it was a step forward. So this is not a policy change. But for me—and the primary thing I’ve been working on is, how do you bring bipartisanship into everything? And the next—I mean another proof of concept of that is now we’ve passed this tax reform bill, which is not fiscally responsible.
Nobody on the left likes it. Many on the right don’t like it. And we’re going to spend the next ten years fighting about it. So policy of—I don’t know—openness. That would be the first step to dealing with every one of these other things, even climate change. When you basically scare off half of the country into pretending that science doesn’t exist, this is for everybody’s best interest.
But when you make every one of these big policy issues tribal, then people feel like they have to take a side. And how do you deal with commonsense policy when people feel like they’re not allowed to even come to the table? So that’s an unclear answer, (LAUGHING) but this is where I need to be.
Alan Price: Well, if these issues were easy and solutions were obvious, we wouldn’t have these rich discussions. So I appreciate your leaning into this with us. Molly, what are your thoughts about a policy change you might make?
Molly Sheehan: Yeah. So I got into this mostly to fight for single-payer health insurance. And I still am. But if I had a magic wand, I think the root of most of our problems, including single-payer and why we aren’t there, is the way we fund elections. And it just becomes these corporate interests.
I’m sure all of us up here are just steeped in the power of money and how it hits us every day. And it’s not about who’s the best candidate. It’s not about who speaks for the people. It’s about who has the most money, who can curry the most influence. And it’s always with money.
And so if I had a magic wand, I would get rid of Citizens United. I would get rid of independent expenditures by companies. And I would create an actual system of public campaign financing, something more similar to what Seattle has done where, for their city council, they’ve actually given four $25 vouchers to every single citizen of Seattle.
And they can donate it to whichever candidates they want. And it’s transformative. You see homeless people donating to city councilors. It gives everyone an equal voice.
And that’s really what we should have right now. And so I would like that type of public financing, where everyone really does have an equal voice. And it’s not just matching of funds. It’s people—everyone can and will donate to the candidate of their choice where they live.
Alan Price: Thank you, Molly. Very interesting. Steve Bacher, if you had the magic wand, where would your focus be? And I know you focused on the environment before. You can stick with that. But if you had a second wish, you might consider that answer as well.
Steve Bacher: Right. So, like Molly, I got into this because of the environment. But, like Molly, I have learned that the number one problem is campaign finance. And I would just echo what she said. I was going to give the Seattle example as well.
It sounds like a wonderful solution. And we just need to get money out of politics and create a level playing field. And so many of our problems will be that much more solvable if we can create a level playing field where people who are homeless at the moment have an equal say in funding as the wealthiest of the wealthy.
Alan Price: Very good, Steve. Shawna Roberts, your thoughts on this?
Shawna Roberts: We’ve talked about the healthcare system. We’ve talked about election funding, bipartisanship, which I think could be fixed with fair redistricting. If I have my magic wand, I’m going to vote for fully funded, adequate, complete, wonderful education from pre-K through post-high school. You can choose either college or whether it’s trade schools.
But we need to have a better funded and better educational system. We need much more resilience in that right now. We are suffering from what has been almost a conscious attack on education in the last 20 years or so. And I’m not going to claim anybody has actually consciously attacked it, but it’s really suffering.
And we need to fix it. If we’re going to get a populace that can do what it’s designed to do—God wants us to be amazing, and we can’t do that if we are really striving to even function. So I’m going to vote education.
Alan Price: Thank you, Shawna. I will say that most people observing politics nationally, globally at this time, have commented on the polarization, the increased polarization, as Nick Thomas has spoken to, the challenge of Democrats and Republicans even speaking to each other. Some of you are Democrats. Nick, you’re an independent.
And I think that, as Quakers, I would ask you this question. How would you use your faith to build consensus during this time of increased polarization? And even more specifically, if you can speak to this, how will you listen to the people who can sometimes be incredibly challenging to listen to?
Pick any issue. There is some extreme version of how that issue is voiced that is going to be very difficult to listen to and engage in in a civilized discourse sort of way. So if you can speak to how will you be a listener in that moment? And if you can identify, “The issue that would be even hard for me to listen to would be x,” I would welcome that rich conversation. Steve, if I could start with you.
Steve Bacher: Sure. I think that our Quaker faith and our Quaker form of worship prepares us to be good listeners. I have observed about myself in many committee meetings, both at work and in other contexts, that I’m usually the person who sits and listens to others throughout the meeting—and then maybe is able to find areas where we do have consensus, and identify what we have in common, and what the steps are that we could take to move forward on a given issue. And I do think that just our practice of sitting and quietly listening to each other, listening for God, prepares us for that.
Now what would be an issue that would be hard to listen to? Well, I can tell you. For example, in the past week, I had a spontaneous meeting with an old friend who happens to be a gun owner. And he’s a good person. He’s a nice guy.
But he owns an AR-15, and he really doesn’t understand why I feel that they should not be in the hands of civilians. We just can’t get into each other’s brains on this. We can’t walk in each other’s shoes on this.
And I sat with him. And I listened to him for almost an hour, talking about his perception of the need for guns in various contexts, and trying to understand his perspective. And it’s really tough. It’s really tough.
Alan Price: Thank you, Steve. If I may apologize to Darlene, my apologies. On my notes, I did not give you the floor on the other question. So I now give you the floor for both questions, if you would like to wave your magic wand first and then speak to the issue of, how will you use your powers of listening? But thank you for tolerating my error. Thank you, Darlene McDonald.
Darlene McDonald: Quite all right. Thank you for the opportunity. My magic wand would definitely be universal healthcare. I believe that that one issue spills into so many others, especially when you get into even the economy. Because even entrepreneurs and people who want to start their own companies may be strapped to an employer because they can’t take that chance of losing their healthcare.
So that spills into the economy as well. Also, many small employers who have to struggle to even insure their workers, that also spills into the economy. So I think if I could wave my magic wand, it would be to take that away from employers and take it away from individuals as far as having to worry about—and having less freedom really because they’re worried about access to healthcare. So that would be my number one issue.
I like—I really, really like what Steve said. I believe our Quaker faith prepares us to listen. Because if you can sit, and you can listen—and we call it our hour of silence, but we’re listening for the word of God. And we’re just—we’ve trained ourselves to listen. And I think with that skill, with that training, we can sit with people, even with people who does not agree with us.
We don’t agree with them. They don’t agree with us on probably many issues. We can sit down with each other, and break bread together, and even come to the point where we can look at some of the things that we do agree on and just work from there. But I know that I’ve benefited from that practice of just being able to listen.
The number one issue that people have, I believe, against the current-day politicians is not being heard. And if you at least listen—you have to listen to the constituent so people know, “OK. This is someone who cares about the issues, cares about me, cares about my family,” and can take that back to Washington D.C. and form policies based upon what they have learned from those conversations with constituents. That’s how I believe my Quaker faith has prepared me for my run for office.
Alan Price: Darlene McDonald, thank you. Shawna Roberts, if you could share your thoughts about the power of listening in this moment for you.
Shawna Roberts: Well, the Quaker faith also tells us that anybody can be telling us the truth. It’s not a matter of education. It’s not a matter of being somebody who’s well-established or respected. We can get truth from anybody, from any voice, which is why we have to listen.
We have to pay attention to constituents talking to us, yes. But we also need to know that that person can have a portion of the truth in them and can be expressing it to us. So we can’t just disregard anybody from the table. And so we listen, and we find out what portion of the truth we can find.
And then we move on from there. It’s not a matter of just disregarding one person. And we have to find ways to get everybody together on that. So the other thing is that, as Quakers, we know that there is some truth. There is something that we can hang on to.
And so we can listen for that, even though we know that anybody may be able to speak to it or may be only partially able to speak to it. We know that we can find it and that if we are patient, we can listen for it. We can come to it.
As to what is difficult to listen to, I have a lot of difficulty listening to biased opinions about other people, whether it’s their race or their gender or their religion or their country of origin. That comes very difficult for me. I have to be very patient with myself sometimes (LAUGHING) because it’s hard to listen to people tell me something that I know in my heart is completely untrue. And I have to find ways to understand where they’re coming from.
I tell my daughter—I was telling her the other day. I said, “Now, when you hear people talking about others in that way, they’re coming out of pain. It’s coming out of fear. Those are words that are fear words and anxiety words. Those are not words that are words that we can accept as anything that’s—it’s not necessarily hateful on their part. It is hateful, but it comes out of a heart that’s afraid.”
And she said, “Oh, you are such a Quaker.” (LAUGHING) I said, “Well, but it’s true.” And so part of the other thing that we can do as Quakers is we can say, “Well, where does it come from? Where is that thing that we are having a hard time listening to come from?”
And a lot of times there is fear and anxiety behind it—not that they’re monsters, but that they are just afraid. And so we can work with that if we can listen to that fear and work beyond it. And so that’s what we’re going to try to do.
Alan Price: Thank you, Shawna Roberts. Before I turn the microphone over to Molly Sheehan, I’m just going to point out that there seems to be some technical challenge around Adam Coker’s video connection. I’m just signaling to Adam that we are working on that from our end as well. I hope we can sort it out during Molly’s answer.
Molly Sheehan: Thank you. Yeah. I do think being a Quaker makes us better listeners. I think that the act of listening is an act of love. And having that basis of faith that whoever you’re talking to, no matter what you’re saying, you have respect for them as a person. And that constant reminder of their humanity helps, no matter what they’re saying, and that understanding that they deserve respect as much as anyone else.
And in particular all these pulls in politics to try to do call time and speak to the wealthy, I think that it helps to be grounded in the voice of the poorer person you meet on the street is the same as the call time. That person deserves the same amount of attention and call time as the person you call you’re trying to get money out of. And these are equal constituents. One isn’t more deserving of your attention than another.
And I guess, much like Shawna was saying, the thing I have the hardest time listening to is when people have a disdain and hatred for other people, particularly the marginalized and the poor. Actually, recently I was out in South Philadelphia. Steve and I have this thing we just had to do. It’s called petitioning, where we have to get a ton of signatures to get on the ballot.
And so I was out on Broad Street in South Philadelphia and talking to this man who ostensibly is a Republican, but people are registered Democrat in the city so they get to vote in the primaries of who wins. And he did sign my petition. But he was talking about his disdain for people on welfare, how his tax dollars were going to people who weren’t working, and this, frankly, misunderstanding of how the system works and systemic disenfranchisement—or how many people on welfare do work, or lost their job, or they want to work and they can’t find it, or their choice is between leaving their community and their family or finding work.
I mean I listened to him for a while, but it does make me uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable to know that other people don’t share that respect with their community members, although I listened to him. And then we ended up starting to get at the three “whys.”
Well, why do you feel that they’re doing that? What evidence do you have? And why do you think they do that? And then you get down to it, and even he could admit that a lot of these people have children. I really believe there’s no such thing as other people’s children.
And we were able to agree on that, that there is no such thing as other people’s children. And that no matter how he feels—we couldn’t agree on everything. But we got to the point where we could at least agree that those children have no role in any of their circumstances, and that we should be giving welfare and food stamps to families so that kids aren’t disenfranchised, so that kids are fed.
And ultimately, it’s not a bad thing for our tax dollars to go to feeding our neighbors. That the real enemy is money getting pumped into corporate interests. And that that is actually such a bigger part of the misuse of taxes than any amount of fraud that could possibly happen on food stamps. And that every program has some percent of fraud.
And he was able to accept that too, that that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have it. Because you still have to serve the poor who need food, who legitimately need it. So even though we may have only—I think we came to some common ground on this one issue. And I think it’s not going to bleed into anything else that he may have believed that day.
But he did sign my petition. And he was able to agree that these children’s bellies deserve to be filled, and that that is a good use of government money. So yeah, I guess—but it was through listening. It was listening to what he was worried about.
And it was about his neighbors who don’t have money feeling like their taxes are being defrauded when they work really hard. It was about him feeling disenfranchised and his neighbors feeling disenfranchised. And I think coming to that conversation, assuming that there’s a goodness in him—and that is part of our Quaker background—was the most important part of finding common ground together—the assumption that no matter what he had said at first, he had some positive motivation, where he thinks he’s trying to help somebody.
Alan Price: Terrific. Sounds like a good, small victory through the power of listening, absolutely. Nick Thomas, what are your thoughts on this? And by the way, Adam, we’re still working the video issue on this end. Just letting you know that we don’t see you yet, but we’re working on it. Go ahead, Nick.
Nick Thomas: Well, President Price, you’re throwing me a little bit of a softball here. I appreciate that. This is—
Alan Price: Well, you should love the next question. It’s even softer. (LAUGHING) But keep going.
Nick Thomas: Well, this is one of the primary issues that I think is what is troubling us today. It is this idea of not being able to hear from people of the other side—whether you just completely discount them altogether or you, as many of us do, as I certainly do more often than I ever should, as somebody else is talking, you wait until it’s your turn to talk without actually taking in what they have said, without actually appreciating their point of view on something. And so there’s the whole idea of walk 100 miles in another person’s shoes. Try to have an understanding of where the other person is coming from.
Now how this applies in politics particularly, I love this quote, “Everyone supports the freedom of speech until they hear something they don’t like.” And early on—well, I’ll say Ann Coulter was in Boulder last night. The Republicans brought her to C.U.‘s campus.
The police did a great job in preparing for that by going out to San Francisco where she had spoken at something else. And as much as I am not a fan, as much as many people may feel they viscerally hate her, particularly tuning into this, she has a point of view. And I think it only strengthens somebody’s message to be able to hear somebody from a differing point of view, even if you might find that person particularly extreme.
So I applauded C.U. for bringing her to campus yesterday. And I was sorry to miss it, but we were at our own function. I’ve also always appreciated when Republicans early on and Democrats early on in this race have invited me to come speak at different panels, different events.
And every time they take that step of, “Oh, this is not our candidate, but we’ll listen,” to me it’s just such a beautiful breath of fresh air that they’re not just closing their mind off, making that assumption, and doing what is so, so common in today’s practice. And I think Quakerism has always really helped me with that. I grew up—I’ve forgotten who was in the district that has a number of LDS people, but I grew up with parents who were born and bred Quaker.
My grandparents actually got married next to Earlham. But on the other side, I have—(LAUGHING) and I was an Earlham student, as an aside. I was there in 2003, 2004. Anyway, on the other side, I have extended family who are Mormons, living 45 minutes away, a Mormon bishop. And in his CPA firm, he used to have NRA meetings in his basement.
But they are some of the closest family we have. We love them. We see them quite a bit, not enough. But growing up with the ability to listen to both—they always love it when I say this—my Quaker, liberal, hippie parents from Boulder, Colorado and my fairly conservative, Mormon, Republican uncle and aunt and whatnot allowed me to be in the place where I am today.
And the final thing I want to mention quickly is—and I hope those tuning in will look at this—I’m actually a Listen First candidate. And that’s actually a group that’s come together. They’re doing something in Charlottesville on the anniversary of the shooting. So we’ll all be down there the weekend of, I think, the 22nd in Charlottesville putting on a big event.
But as soon as I heard that their message was just work with people no matter where they’re from, and listen and hear people out, and Pearce particularly who helps run that, I said sign me up. I want to be a Listen First candidate right away because this is what we need to do. This is how we fix politics. And taking the money out, thank you for mentioning that, Molly. That probably would be a waving of the wand.
Alan Price: Great. It looks like Adam has just rejoined on video just in time. How would you use your ability to listen for consensus building even in some very difficult conversations?
Adam Coker: Well, one of the ways that I think that I already do is just my life’s work already. I work as a truck driver, and I raise cattle. Half of this district is extremely rural or very interdependent with rural communities near farms.
And half of this district is Guilford County, which is very almost—very few farms in the section of the district that does have farms here in Guilford County. So I’m a member of the Cattlemen’s Association. I’m a former president of a three-county affiliate for the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
I show up and listen in very intense discussions on race issues, whether it’s with Black Lives Matter or Queer People of Color. I’m very active with listening to people in the LGBT community. And also, like I said, I go to events with the Cattlemen’s Association. I go to cow sales. I listen—I know what the going price is for a hundredweight for milk from dairies or how much a four-by-four or a five-by-five round bale of hay might cost.
I think my job is to just literally listen and to know what the issues are across this entire district, from people an hour and a half away from here at Lake Norman that basically work mostly in the Charlotte area—they probably have little interest whatsoever with what’s going on here in Greensboro. And they’re probably very disconnected from the struggling farmers of northern Iredell County. So I’ve lived at both ends of the district.
And so I feel like I’m very dialed in as a participant in each corner of the district, really. So I feel like that’s my job. I feel like my job is—everybody that I talk to is usually pretty surprised when they’re a part of an issue or an activity and an issue, and I know most of the leaders or the voices in those circles. They’re usually very pleased that I’m already listening.
And if I’m not already listening, I’ll say please connect me. I would like to start listening to what’s going on in your circles and your activities of expressing your voices. So I think that’s what Quakers really are good at is we’re willing to do the very painful, hard, slow work of listening to people and realizing that everyone’s voice matters.
And we can dignify those voices. And so I think that’s something that should make us all interesting people in politics. I hope I didn’t sound too much like a politician there. But I have been doing this for two and a half years, so I’m a little bit caught up in it.
Alan Price: Well, and I’m going to come back to you first for the next question. I’ll give you that heads up. But let me lay out the context. And this is an even softer question in the sense of I’d like the audience to see you as human beings, not just as politicians. So this is my question that I hope you will engage with.
As a new president at Earlham, we got together with other new presidents. And we were talking about our adventures. First day on the job, what were the biggest mistakes you made?
And one of the presidents said on the first day on the job, he could not find the restroom. And he walked down the hall and in the basement, and he finally found the restroom. On the second day, they said, “You realize you have a restroom in your office?” And he felt quite foolish in that moment.
I know for me, the only time I ever ran that I did run successfully for a local school board in Cambridge, Massachusetts. And I just remember the first time knocking on doors and my then former almost five-year-old son insisting that he go with me on the campaign trail. And he would just blast in and talk to people at every door. He’s a much greater extrovert than I am. And you just have to go with it.
These are some of the fun moments of being a human being on the campaign trail. I’m curious what sort of silly, goofy thing has happened to you, whether you’re a first-time candidate or more experienced, that is just humbling and would allow us to see you perhaps as a human being, not just as a politician? Adam, you want to start us out?
Adam Coker: Well, I’m trying to be really careful about how I say this, even though it’s goofy. When I became a candidate, we had one-third of our state legislature was being unchallenged in 2016. And in December 2015 on the day of the deadline, we had three congressional seats that went unchallenged.
And so myself and two other friends filed for those three congressional seats on the day of the deadline. And so I became a congressional nominee prior to the Fourth Circuit Court throwing out those districts. And later that day, I had newspapers calling me from all over the state, wanting to get some background information for their stories.
And then I had a Democratic strategist call me on the phone and ask me what some of my strategies were that I was starting to think about. You have to understand that I knew hardly anything. I mean I knew very little. All I knew was we can’t have these people not be challenged.
And after I told him my first idea, he said, “Well, that’s illegal. So you can’t do that one.” But the first thing that I wanted to do was illegal. And he goes, “So we’re going to have to keep talking. You can’t do that one.” So it was kind of humbling that here I am talking to this guy who’s been in Democratic politics for 30 years. And I’m just this guy who’s been a candidate for (LAUGHING) two hours.
Alan Price: Perfect. Thank you, Adam. Shawna, tell us a story about your start.
Shawna Roberts: Well, this is interesting. I’m like Adam. I didn’t intend to run for office up until the moment I said I was going to run for office. So it’s been a huge learning curve. There’s all sorts of things to know about. I can’t just pass the hat. I can’t just get random money from people at an event. It’s one of those things you’re just not allowed to do.
The thing that has been interesting for me personally, and which has been most difficult, is that normally I look like I just got in from feeding the goats. And I had to actually go and buy a blazer. I found a couple of blazers on sale for about 10 bucks. And I picked them up, and I’ve been rotating them through.
And my husband keeps saying, “You need to wear different clothes because I need to have different pictures.” And I say, “Ha, this is what I got.” So our most interesting adventure on that was the very first meet and greet we had. I went up, and I did my thing. And I had my new blazer on.
And I looked great, except that there was mud all over my boots. And I’d forgotten about that. So afterwards, my people let me know. But in the future, they decided they were going to tell me beforehand. And so now they check my feet every time they see me. So that has been sort of my adventure in [INAUDIBLE 00:57:08].
Alan Price: Thank you, Shawna Roberts. Darlene McDonald, share a story about your start.
Darlene McDonald: So I’m going to assume that you’re speaking of a silly story since we’ve been campaigning, correct?
Alan Price: Correct.
Darlene McDonald: OK. Well, my decision to run for office I would have to say would be my most silliest thing, when I declared. So I said, “I am going to do this, by golly.” So I marched right down to the lieutenant governor’s office, walked in. And I said, “I am here. I am ready to declare.”
And he sort of looked at me like, “Uh, OK.” It wasn’t time yet. (LAUGHING) So what they did instead was give me the telephone number to the Federal Elections Commission that I had to call and then do it that way first before I could declare with the lieutenant governor, which actually didn’t happen until just a couple weeks ago. So my eagerness to declare my candidacy, I did it a year too soon.
Alan Price: Good. Excellent. Thank you. Nick Thomas, your goofy story.
Nick Thomas: Well, this is slightly less lighthearted. But I would say when you talk about silliness, boy, I—about every other day, I get the comment of, “Why are you doing this? Why are you running as an independent?”
We haven’t had an independent in the U.S. House in 40 years, besides Bernie Sanders. And bless his heart. He’s not an independent who works across the aisle. And I will say I appreciate him. We brought both Bernie and John Kasich out to the Martin Luther King Center last January to talk about reaching across the aisle.
But since launching, boy, I constantly get the, “How can you think that you can win as an independent?” And that’s gone from sort of I agreed with them to offensive, the many stages or whatever, to now laughable. And particularly with my Democratic friends, my favorite comment now is particularly when I get the, “Are you going to split the vote?”
I’m running in a safe blue sea, which I hate that verbiage. But when they say, “Are you going to split the vote?”, I say, “One, that should never be the worry or the concern. An independent is not a Green Party or a Libertarian, which gets four to six percent of the vote. An independent represents 60 to 80% of the voting populace.”
But in my district, I have 133,000 Republicans, 172,000 Democrats, and 200,000 independents. It’s the independent republic of Boulder. So I’ve gotten into the habit of kind of making a lighthearted joke. The Democrat is splitting my vote. So that’s kind of where I leave it.
The one other sort of positive differentiating thing that I’ve done in my race is I’ve actually carpooled with a number of the candidates to different events. There were, at one time, four Democrats, a Libertarian, and a Republican all running. Every one of them I sat down for coffee ahead of time. Every one of them I know. A couple of them are good friends of mine.
And so we’ve actually carpooled to events. It’s now down to four from the original eight, but that’s probably a little outside the norm for a political campaign. And some people have called that certainly silly.
Alan Price: Very good, Nick. Thank you so much. Steve Bacher, a silly moment in your early run.
Steve Bacher: Here we go. Well, what comes to mind is that Bucks County has 47 different municipal Democratic clubs. And we try to go speak to them all as well as the relevant ones in Montgomery County in my district. And one of the first ones I went to in early December, I was there, and one of my primary opponents was there.
And it was in a pizza place. And it was just maybe 20 or so people standing around. And they asked us each to say a few words. And so I gave my first version of my little five-minute stump speech. And at the end, a guy came up to me.
And he said, “Steve, you know, I like what you said. I like your values. I’m glad you’re running. But have you lost weight?” And I said, “What do you mean have I lost weight?” And he said, “Well, that jacket,”—I was wearing a blue sport jacket which I had bought 10 years prior.
He said, “That jacket, it looks like you used to weigh a little more. Your message will come across better if you’re wearing something that fits a little tighter.” I was like, “OK, thanks.” And it’s true that—and I hadn’t thought about it.
But over the last 10 years, very slowly, I have taken off 25 pounds. And I didn’t give a second thought to putting on a jacket I hadn’t worn in 10 years and showing up at an event. And so now I just don’t wear the jacket. I haven’t had time to buy a new jacket.
Alan Price: Great, Steve.
Steve Bacher: I got the sweater.
Alan Price: Molly, your story, a little goofy moment on the trail.
Molly Sheehan: Yeah. So I also did the committee meeting thing, especially when I—well, we still do it. But it was some of the first events I went to when I first got in. And I also have a three-year-old. And I was, until recently, working full-time while campaigning with a three-year-old. And so there was a lot of get home, see the kid for an hour or two, before getting in the car and driving to the meeting.
And I think it was maybe my third committee meeting in central Delaware County. There’s a lot of meetings where people go to multiple committees. You see a lot of the same people, [INAUDIBLE 00:01:03] to the same people’s party. And a woman came up to me.
And she said, “I don’t know what it is. Every time you wear something, you always have this white mark on your leg. It’s like this circle, this white mark. I don’t know if it’s like something on your car that’s like rubbing on you. I don’t know what it is, but you should wash it off.”
And I realized every event, I end up with this what I call yogurt mouth from a three-year-old. So it’s like the circle of a three-year-old’s mouth right on the height of her mouth on my leg on every pair of pants. And sometimes I just wear them to the meeting and then wear them again because I’d only worn them for two hours.
And so I had to go wash them all. Because I would come home, and she would give me the big hug goodbye while she was eating her dessert. And it would just be the yogurt mouth. It was my stamp of my daughter on my leg at every single committee meeting. So now I do wipe it before I go out.
Alan Price: Marvelous. Love it.
Molly Sheehan: Maybe I should let the yogurt mouth stay there.
Alan Price: If I can—and I very much appreciated the humanizing stories—I am going to take us to a bit more substance now. I’m going to pose a hypothetical situation and see—and you can insert more details as you see fit. I could imagine very difficult conversations, public policy issues, coming before you should you be fortunate enough to be elected, where certain things might come into conflict in your mind and in your heart.
Particularly, how do you weigh your assessment of the public good versus how might you weigh your assessment of your own constituents’ interests? Or, how might you weigh your personal, ethical judgment or your sense of faith in action? These things can sometimes come in conflict in one’s head and one’s heart. And I’d be curious if you’ve run into this before, or if you could speculate how you might face such a difficult moment on an issue. Nick Thomas, if you could start us out with that.
Nick Thomas: Sure. One of the beauties of running as an independent allows me to be independent in every different one of my choices. Every different piece of legislation I vote on, I don’t have to walk lockstep with Nancy Pelosi or Paul Ryan. So I can actually represent my constituents. I can actually represent the country over the party.
So I have a little less worry that I’m going to get into a situation where I need to fall in line rather than representing the people of my district. However, there will come times when we are all tested. And my first thought, of course, is military action. Quakers historically are pacifists. Quakers historically are anti-war.
But we also have had Quakers in our history who have played major roles in some of the most contentious issues. I believe it was a Quaker who was the closest assassination attempt on Hitler because he believed at some point, things had gone too far. And in fact, one of the most interesting was Abraham Lincoln’s secretary of war was also a Quaker.
So particularly in politics, while representing your constituents and trying to do the best for our country, you’re going to come into situations that are hard to take up. I personally believe that Quakerism, that our upbringing, that our ethics and our morals and our judgment and our character, have allowed us to take on these challenges and be able to choose in that moment what is right, what is wrong, what we need to acquiesce to, and where we can make a stand. And not only do I believe an independent has the ability to do that at a higher functioning level [INAUDIBLE 00:01:07] anything, but I believe a Quaker has the ability to take that stand and say morally, “I am not OK with this, particularly military action. But I’m willing to go into negotiation.”
And I mean Iraq was an easy explanation, an easy example of that. The majority of Democrats joined with the majority of Republicans in supporting it. Hillary Clinton supported it.
And it was action that we knew was unjust, and we later found was even less just than we thought. And I believe any Quaker—I think anybody on this panel would have the moral aptitude to be able to stand up, and make a judgment call, and not just quietly sit on their morals and have to go home and face your family and say, “I didn’t speak up.” I think we have the ability to do so.
Alan Price: Thank you, Nick Thomas. Molly Sheehan, how would you balance that potential tension in your head and your heart?
Molly Sheehan: Yeah. It’s a great question. I mean I think one of the things that Quakerism teaches us is to speak truth to power, which we need so badly in politics right now. And the example Nick just gave, I mean a lot of people weren’t willing to speak truth to power.
A lot of people knew it was wrong but weren’t able to speak up to their own party leadership. And they weren’t able to correct course. But I do think also foreign policy is the place that I have the most disagreements with my different responsibilities. Because it’s hard.
It’s the idea of peace and nonintervention sometimes butts heads with the reality of what’s happening in a country and a humanitarian crisis where the other side is violent. And how do you—I think a lot of times, we’re given really difficult decisions. I think often our country makes decisions that are bad, such as the Iraq War, that were not because of those kinds of situations.
But I think when we look at things in places like Syria or Yemen, there’s really difficult decisions to make. And there are these humanitarian crises. And there’s not some easy answer about what we should do, even if there might be a politically expedient thing to do.
And I think our role as Quakers is to steer away from the politically expedient and towards the just, whatever that answer is. In terms of my constituents versus all of humanity, I mean personally I think our role as representatives is to represent the people that elected us. And especially with my experience as an international aid worker, the greatest thing I learned from that was to not assume I knew anything about people I’m not representing—and seeing how international aid work and trying to go help other populations often creates way more problems than were there to begin with.
And we see that with our foreign policy and imperialism. Generally, even a lot of our aid work is kind of New World colonialism to these areas and thinking we know what’s better for people. And so I think that—I mean my perception is my role, if elected, is to represent the 700,000 people that elected me and to advocate for their interests in Washington, not necessarily to advocate for Nick or Steve or Shawna’s representatives because that’s their job.
And my job is to listen to them as their representative about what their people need. And my job is to advocate for my own, and we can work together in that way. And a functional government at least should be working that way.
Alan Price: Thank you, Molly. Shawna Roberts, how would you answer the question about that potential conflict of head and heart and constituent versus personal morality, et cetera?
Shawna Roberts: We have—in this district, we are big on coal and oil and gas. And climate change is real. And climate change is affected by releasing carbon into the air. And that is affected by coal and oil and gas.
And yet, tomorrow if we were to get rid of oil and gas and coal and stop mining and stop drilling, a whole bunch of people in my district would be even worse off than they are right now. There would be a lot of pain and a lot of destruction as a result of getting rid of something like that. So that’s something that I have to wrestle with every day.
The solution I have come up with so far is that we can do what is good for everybody. We just can’t do what is good for everybody tomorrow. And we need to make sure that we find ways to bring jobs into this area that are not based on coal and oil and gas so that as those two things eventually get fewer and fewer people involved in them, they are less and less painful to begin to phase out.
So it’s a matter of saying to yourself, “What is our goal? What is our end goal?” And our end goal is justice, equality, community, an Earth that is thriving and prosperous in many ways. And how do we get there?
And sometimes we can get there, and it’s easy. And sometimes we can get there, but it’s very complex. And it involves taking paths and choices that are not necessarily something that somebody else will understand. So like I said, this is something that is an issue here.
This is a big problem in this district. It’s like the old colonialism where we decided that somebody was going to have something that we were going to impose on them. And if we impose something that everybody wants to impose—lots of people want to get rid of coal. But if we get rid of coal here right now, I’m afraid for my folks.
So we’re going to get rid of coal maybe eventually, but not tomorrow. And that’s how I’ve been wrestling with good and ethics and my constituents’ interests. Long ago, I asked God, and I was talking to God. And one thing that has kept me going is I got this answer that said, “In everything you do, is there a light at the center of it?”
And so we just have to keep saying to ourselves, “Is this the right choice for today? And can we move forward in the right direction if we make this choice?” And that’s going to be a tough thing. With war, I can’t think of anything better for war than making sure that nobody gets killed unnecessarily. And so we can do that too. But it’s really, really hard.
Alan Price: Thank you, Shawna Roberts. Darlene McDonald, how would you balance that possible tension?
Darlene McDonald: Well, I’m running in a very conservative—probably a little bit more progressive than the other three districts in Utah. But Utah is predominantly—it’s known for being a very conservative state. So this is an issue that I will definitely be faced with.
And I have to say, first off, that I am really appreciating this panel and what everyone is saying. I mean what Shawna just said was amazing. Because we do have that issue, especially when we talk about the rural counties and what’s going to impact the rural counties here in Utah and around the country.
That when we talk about getting rid of the jobs that sustain them right now, we’re talking about people’s livelihoods. And we haven’t replaced them with things yet. So I wanted to just say that first.
But I also want to piggyback off of what Molly said about speaking truth to power. And one of the things that another—I talked about how healthcare was a very big driver for me to run for office. But another driver for me was listening to politicians lying to their constituents and having constituents that vote time and time again against their own best interests.
And we saw that really firsthand with the healthcare debate. When Obama was in office and they passed the ACA, for seven years after that—and I think they had 51 votes, I believe, to repeal the Affordable Care Act after it was passed. But once the new Congress came in, and the Republicans had control of the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives, I knew in my heart that that would be the first thing to go.
Because they had fought for so long to try to get rid of it based on lies, based on lies that were told to the constituents about the Affordable Care Act. And when they could not pass it, when they could not pass the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and their constituents were upset about it, I remember writing the reason why they’re upset, and the reason why you can’t pass it, is because you know that you have been lying about it for the last seven years. That’s the problem.
So we have to speak truth to power and be able to face our constituents with truth and say, “OK. This is what the Affordable Care Act really is.” And by all means, it was not a perfect piece of legislation, not by any stretch of the imagination. There were problems with it.
There are bigger problems with it now. So I wouldn’t even say let’s go back to it. We need to move forward. And let’s fix what’s broken, but let’s move to the next step. And for me, that’s universal healthcare.
But how we get there is by speaking, as Molly says, truth to power, not lying to your constituents about even privacy. And what is the presumption of privacy, especially as we move into information technology and having to pass laws that embrace our new reality of what privacy is and how we perceive privacy? We have to have politicians that are brave enough to tell the truth.
I know that we have issues with—we have the gun debate. I’m in Utah. And I believe there need to be some commonsense gun regulation. I am going to face that.
And I’m going to have to face my constituents and have this conversation with them about commonsense—there are some common grounds there. Universal background checks is a no-brainer. So that’s something I am definitely going to have to face. But we start with telling the truth, speaking truth to power.
Alan Price: Thank you, Darlene. Darlene McDonald, thank you. Adam Coker, how would you balance this potential tension? I believe you’re still on mute, Adam.
Adam Coker: I didn’t know if you guys were automatically doing that or not.
Alan Price: Perfect.
Adam Coker: I feel like we already struggle with this a great deal in our daily lives. I am for clean energy. I have solar panels on a home that I have. But at the same time, I drive an 18-wheeler truck and can spend as much as $300 to $400 a day in fuel for this truck. There’s lots of ways that technology needs to be truly better for the public good before it’s going to have a mass change in society.
Let me just pivot back to one other thing. For 20 years, a question that has gripped me is ever since I studied Walter Wink before I came to Quaker community, a lot of Walter Wink’s work was, “How do we resist evil without creating other forms of evil?” And I feel like that is the real dance that Congress is set to do before us in the country is to resist evil—whether it’s in the form of corporate greed in our daily lives, or our privacy being invaded, or unbridled greed in the free market economy in regards to healthcare, in regards to the EPA pulling back regulations.
We need people who are speaking truth to power, who aren’t bought with corporate interests in these areas. And at the same time, we need to have people who are not just, as Nick pointed out, toeing a party line. We need to be able to have honest conversations around whether it’s renewable energy or whether it is healthcare instead of people toeing party lines.
But for me, I deal with—I have confidence in a couple things. First of all, I have confidence in the leaders in the community that I already live. I know that if I’m elected, they will be able to come and clearly speak their minds to me. And I know who the leaders are in just about any area of interest for the most part.
And I have open dialog with them. And I think that we can work together and find ways to move forward. I’ll give an example. When I first became more respected as an emerging leader in the Democratic Party here, I had a rabbi come up to me one day.
And he said, “Adam, you’re our guy in our community. And I ask you to just not speak up about Israel.” And he said, “First of all, I don’t want you to speak out on Israel until you come and sit down with all of the rabbis in the community, and you’ve listened to all of us. And even if you are asked to comment on Israel, I just ask you to not do it. You’re just going to create a mess for us. And you should defer a lot of those questions to leaders in the Jewish community.”
And it’s been a great—it was kind of a relief. It was I don’t need to have these great answers about Israel whenever I’m asked. I can actually refer people to the leaders in the community who have spent their lives involved in activism, whether it’s in Israel or in Palestine, for example.
But at the same time, being able to sit down and have open forum conversations with those leaders when it’s time to have tough decisions, and I have confidence again in my community. And I have confidence that we can find ways to work together. But at the end of the day, I want to most importantly be a voice for working people.
As a former banker, I know how fragile our economy is. I know the rising cost of oil can cause people to not be able to pay their mortgages, and we can have a mortgage crisis in our country. And the economy can collapse. And so for me, I want to make the most clear commitment that my votes will be for the working people, working families, and not for the élite.
Alan Price: Thank you, Adam. Steve Bacher, how might you balance the potential tension between your sense of the public good, constituent interest, and your own personal ethical judgment and faith?
Steve Bacher: Well, I’ve been thinking about this a lot while my fellow panelists have been talking. And I have to say, first of all, I am running in a swing district. I am running in a district that has been called a tossup. So no matter what decision I make on a given issue, there’s the potential for half the district to not be happy with me.
And I think that it’s the role of leaders to lead, frankly. We have to do what we think is best for our district, yes. We have to represent our district, yes. And we also have to have an eye on the bigger picture of what’s good for the country and what’s good for the world. And part of our job is persuading our constituents to follow us sometimes.
We have to follow our constituents, but sometimes we have to persuade our constituents to follow us. I’ll just, again, talk a little bit about climate change. I’ve read surveys that 70% of Americans believe that climate change is real, caused by people, and we need to do something about it. And 80% of Americans want the government to subsidize solar power.
So there are 10% of the people who don’t believe in climate change but still want subsidies for solar power. And I think we need to seize on these opportunities to bring people together, and to focus on the things that we have in common, and lead people together to do things. One other thing I wanted to say about the whole issue about coal, in my campaign, I often tell a story about my grandfather who was a refugee from Poland.
And I talk about how when I think of what’s going on today with immigrant issues, I think, “How would I want my grandfather to have been treated?” in addition to, “How do I want my friends who are immigrants to be treated?” And from what Shawna was saying, I want to be thinking about if my father or my grandfather or my son were working in the coal industry or my daughter or my sister or my wife in the coal industry, how would I want them to be treated while trying to solve the problem of climate change? And I think that we need to be bringing clean energy jobs to the areas where the economy is focused around coal and methane now.
And we need to have whatever government programs we have and whatever push we give to move towards renewable energy, which we have to do to save our planet, we have to include in that dollars for retraining people, for helping people learn new skills and find new jobs. But we urgently, urgently need to move to 100% renewable economy. And I just read a survey that a majority of Americans want to move us there by 2030, and we have to.
Alan Price: Thank you, Steve Bacher. Let me pose this challenge to you. As Quakers, you know that not all Quakers are pacifists, although many may be against war as a general concept. But all of you are certainly familiar with the concept of conscientious objectors, in some ways putting their faith first even in the face of law or policy that may be in a different direction.
We live in a moment where people, though they may not call themselves conscientious objectors, are acting, on the basis of their faith, in ways that Quakers might find actually quite surprising. But perhaps you can relate to them. We have people who, for the basis of their faith, are choosing not to carry out their office in not performing weddings or things like that on the basis of their faith.
We have commercial establishments refusing to make cakes for certain people on the basis of their faith. We have people, on the basis of their faith, taking both sides of gun control issues and things like that. How might you take your Quaker background and use it in such a way that you are uniquely positioned to bridge some very extreme views taken on the basis of faith? Molly, if you could start us off on that.
Molly Sheehan: That’s a great and very difficult question. So I was asked, actually, a question similar to this—not about Quakerism, but about the idea of anti-LGBT ordinances or allowing people, businesses, to have anti-LGBT practices under the guise of faith. And I think, to me, the big difference between a Quaker conscientious objector and somebody who chooses to, say, not make a cake for a couple is that we’re not disenfranchising someone else from their right.
We’re not limiting someone else’s freedom and autonomy when we make that decision. We’re making a decision for ourselves, and we’re not being evangelical about it. We’re not casting judgment even onto others. We’re saying, “I cannot, as myself, do this.” And we’re not—it’s not about restricting a service that we offer for the community.
And so I mean I am in favor of nondiscrimination ordinances because I think it has to do with how we define liberty as a society. And if you’re not free to get services from your community, you’re not really free. And why does one person’s religious freedom take precedence over another person’s humanity? That’s really what’s happening in these cases.
And actually, I think that cake case, he’s actually using his free speech rights to try to say that it’s speech on the cake. It’s not even about making the cake for the person. It’s about the art—he’s calling it art—and that the service itself would be protected already under antidiscrimination ordinances. And so they’re trying to find loopholes to discriminate against people.
But I do think we as Quakers do often sit outside everyone else’s consensus because of our faith. And I do think that our understanding of that maybe can help us talk to other people who face similar problems. Actually, I use my faith frequently with people who talk about being single-issue voters.
That particularly, there’s a lot of pro-life Catholics in my district. And it does allow me to relate to them because I’m not just coming in as what they see as a secular Democrat coming and judging them for their faith. But I’m saying, “Well, I understand this is your faith. I understand you believe this thing and that your compassion for what you consider children is what’s leading you to feel so strongly about that.”
And I can relate as I’ve had to vote—but ultimately, elections are choices. They’re not—you can’t create a candidate that you want. And the rest of Jesus’ message about caring for the poor, that also is really important. What about the children that are already alive?
And that, even as myself as a Quaker, I’ve voted for people many, many times who have voted for war. I mean I voted for Hillary Clinton this last election, and her foreign policy does not align at all with my faith values. And I can relate to them in some way because I have—ultimately, elections, usually at least in November, are binary choices.
And we’re forced to choose amongst these packages of people that we’re given, these imperfect packages of people. And I have been able to pull quite a few actually pro-life people over to voting for me or signing my petitions because they understand I’m not judging them for their need to sit outside of me on this issue. I’m comfortable sitting with our disagreement over their faith and my faith disagreeing.
So I do think it helps in that way. And it all comes back to the same thing I think all of us have been talking about the whole time, that it’s ultimately loving the person you’re talking to and understanding where they’re coming from, whether it’s because of faith or tradition or background or whatever. And that we sit with that also, and so we can relate to them.
Alan Price: Great. Steve Bacher, how would you speak to that?
Steve Bacher: I come back to the idea that there’s that of God in everyone, and that we need to listen to everyone, and just the concept of active listening, and listening with compassion, and trying to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, which I try to do. I don’t always succeed, but I try to do with every person, even the person who yells at me at the post office when I’m asking them to sign my petition. I was out there saying, “Excuse me. Are you a Bucks County registered Democrat?”, at the post office.
And anyway, some people turn around and yell at you and have reasons that they’re angry. And I want to understand where their anger is coming from. And I want to be able to find a way to bridge the difference. And it starts with listening.
Alan Price: Terrific. Adam Coker, how would you speak to that? We’ve got—it’s OK. We’ve just got to turn off the mute on your end. And if you could then—
Adam Coker: Yes. Sorry. Could you please restate the question one more time? I’m getting lost in these responses.
Alan Price: Yeah, absolutely. I’d be—with familiarity with conscientious objectors, how would you speak with or listen to people who take faith-based stances that may be quite extreme?
Adam Coker: My work—I guess at the end of the day, I will always respect people’s decisions about how they feel about things of morality. My quest in running for Congress is to implore people that the Constitution can be a document for how we live together at peace with one another with whom we disagree and that we should be committing to not hindering other people’s human rights and civil rights. And that freedom of—so my quest here again is to implore people with differing views that we could all stand at peace and agreement behind the Constitution. So I often am asked about this issue, particularly one-issue voters.
And I understand very clearly that they’re often asking me whether or not I think something is right or wrong. And I’m often saying, “I hear you loud and clear that you think something is wrong. I’m simply asking you at what point do you want to hinder the civil, human rights of other people to make those decisions for themselves?” And anyways, I’m all about—I think that people of the progressive communities, we need to talk more about the Constitution and how we can live at peace with one another in disagreement. And it really is a powerful document.
Alan Price: Thank you, Adam Coker. Nick Thomas, how would you deal with folks who, for the basis of faith, may take some very extreme views?
Adam Coker: Wow. That’s funny you mention the cake thing. That is a Supreme Court issue that actually arose out of Colorado. So that’s a neighboring subject, and it’s obviously something that we all have faced. My father was a conscientious objector, but it didn’t mean he basically opted out of going into the military during Vietnam.
It meant he felt that he couldn’t do service with a weapon, so he found another way to do service. And I believe he ended up being brought over to Macau to teach English. That was one of his ways.
My grandfather, I don’t know that he was a C.O. per se. But he went to Vietnam as an engineer and built bridges that we had bombed and then moved in in the area. And then he would rebuild the bridge—and therefore didn’t have to carry a weapon but was on the ground and involved.
So I think this, to me, is simply a second way of looking at your original question about listening. This is a listen first question. And this is something that, although we again can see hard differences in certain issues, abortion being a big one, in truth we have a rush to categorize everything as either perfect or the worst, their side versus our side, black versus white, red versus blue.
And in reality, about everything is shades of gray. And that’s a beautiful thing. But it’s also a reminder that we are so similar that if we can simply take each one of these issues and focus on—a few other candidates have mentioned this—what we have in common and how we can move past them, then we have a great ability to actually easily surmount the smallest challenges.
One of my favorite refrains that I mention in a lot of my speeches is that Bill Clinton used to talk about how—he loved giving this in each of his speeches. He would say, “I spent, during my period as president, $116 million of your taxpayer dollars on decoding the human genome. And what we found out is we are 99.8% the same. So what we’re fighting over is that final 0.2%. And in reality, that’s pretty negligible.”
Alan Price: Thank you, Nick Thomas. In just a moment, we’re going to hear the response from Darlene McDonald. But I’m just signaling to our tech person that we seem to have lost Molly Sheehan’s video connection. So they’ll work on that. Darlene, your answer. Molly, you’re back. Great.
Darlene McDonald: I agree with Molly. This is somewhat of a difficult question. But the thing that immediately comes to my mind is the Civil Rights Movement. And I’ve never been asked really this question too much.
But the Civil Rights Movement comes to my mind because it’s just evidence of what we’ve had, of what divided this country. We had signs that separated people by their color, by their race. And if we continue to do that, like in the case of the baker that refused to bake the cake for the same-sex couple, we’re repeating some of the worst parts of our history.
And so we get back to that listening, and being able to sit down and have conversations with people, and listen to them—but also to allow them to see the humanity of everyone that is of God in us all, and how those actions hurt and take away from the humanity of the people that they are, in essence, discriminating against, and empathize, and put themselves into the other person’s shoes. So that’s really what comes to my mind when I think of this question, when I think of how others could use their religion as a way to basically discriminate against other people. We don’t want to repeat the evils of our past. We want to move forward and move forward together as one.
Alan Price: Thank you, Darlene McDonald. Shawna Roberts, how would you speak to this?
Shawna Roberts: There, OK.
Alan Price: You got it.
Shawna Roberts: Yeah. The men in my meeting were smokejumpers. They were
medics. They volunteered for medical research. They went to foreign lands, and they helped build buildings. So I see conscientious objection very differently from things like, “I don’t want to make a cake for those people.”
I see it as a service and as a way of giving back to the community in a way that isn’t violent, which is what they chose, to find a way not to be violent. And they were helping to build things up. Refusing to serve someone is not the same thing in my opinion.
However, I can see why it is sometimes thought of as the same thing. Because if you say, “My faith requires that I do this,” then on the surface you look just like a conscientious objector who says, “My faith requires that I choose not to kill people.” However, the notion that your religious freedom means you should have the right to do anything you want, including disenfranchise others, isn’t what religious freedom is or has been for Quakers.
When we have chosen religious freedom, we have ended up having to suffer sometimes for it. And we are the ones that have stepped back, rather than making other people do the stepping back so that we can move forward. It is like the Civil Rights Movement.
When men and women went to the counters, to the lunch counters, and asked to be served, the people behind the counter felt that it was their religious obligation to say no. They would have phrased it just like that. It’s not true. And I will listen to people who tell me that their religious beliefs are strong about things like having a bias against other people.
But I can’t agree with them. And I have to find a way to help them understand that just because you don’t agree with someone is not a reason to inflict some sort of suffering or limitation upon them. It’s a difficult thing to do, but it’s necessary.
The abortion issue is also one that’s going to be tough for people because if your religious belief is that that is a child, then of course you want to defend it. And you want to protect it. And there is absolutely no one who can say that that will not eventually be a child, even if there’s a debate over how to classify it before it’s born.
So it’s a really complex issue. But it’s still something that you need to allow people to have conscience about. And when Quakers have chosen to exercise their conscience, they have not forced other people to listen to that conscience and obey it.
They have said, “You can have your conscience as well.” And that’s something that is not really easy to see when we listen to some of the folks that are most vocal right now. So it’s tough.
Alan Price: Thank you. Absolutely. In what is likely our final question, I would frame it this way. One of the things that candidates do is they inspire another generation of people to better understand and perhaps better serve this nation. And I can imagine that there are college students, be they Earlham College students or college students closer to you, who are listening and considering dropping what they are doing, perhaps in the middle of their studies or shortly after they finish their final exams, and hitting the campaign trail with you in order to help you get elected.
I would ask you to close with a message to young people who are considering possibly joining you in the campaign. Why should they campaign for you? If you would do your best to inspire a generation through your answer, I would appreciate it. I’m going to start with Darlene McDonald.
Darlene McDonald: First thing they can do is go to my website, (LAUGHING) which is darlenemcdonald.com. But I would say become aware of what’s happening in the news today. And don’t think or believe for a second that one voice does not matter, one vote does not matter, or that you are too young or too old to get involved.
One of the things that I like to mention is John Lewis, when he walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, he was 25 years old. And what a difference his presence has made in our lives today. And he’s continuing to forge ahead and fight for our civil rights.
Our new generation, our next generation, the millennials don’t like to say they are the future because they’re not the future. They are actually our present. And they need to and should be involved and understand what’s happening in today’s political environment, the policies that are being written and passed, and how that impacts even their ability to stay in college, and be able to afford going to college, and even the air that they’re going to breathe when they walk outside the classroom. So it’s very important to be that voice for change.
Alan Price: Thank you, Darlene. And I will say just to emphasize brevity would be particularly good here. We don’t have a whole lot of time to close out. I’m going to go to Adam Coker next, in part out of sheer awe that he would attempt to do such a thing while driving.
But he has a commercial driver’s license. He is a professional driver. I’m going to let him take the question second. How would you inspire a generation to pick up and campaign with you?
Adam Coker: Well, I would say that in my first election two years ago, we were the unheard-of candidate. And we missed the nomination by less than 21% of the district. And we beat the establishment candidate by 16 votes here in Guilford County. Every vote does matter.
The most exciting thing about my campaign is we will be going in a large RV throughout the district, making videos every day, talking to people on farms, talking to people in every town. And it’s going to be a lot of fun. We have over 100 volunteers.
We have a team of five people, including lawyers, helping us writing our policy positions. There are so many cooks in this kitchen. But it is a wonderful meal we’re preparing.
And I invite anybody to participate in elections process, and to learn, and to see up-close and personal everything from the Supreme Court rulings about partisan gerrymandering to the federal court’s rulings about the districts which we’re having here in North Carolina, which has become quite amusing. So it’s just such a learning experience. I tell people it’s been like drinking from a fire hydrant for the last two and a half years. So come experience the fun with us.
And you’re on a Gimbal stabilizer. So it looks like I’m having to hold it, but I’m not. So you guys are good. Thank you for [INAUDIBLE 01:50:37] in.
Alan Price: You’ve done well. Thank you. Nick Thomas, how would you inspire a generation to come campaign with you?
Nick Thomas: Well, we’re doing something completely different. And it’s really special. So one, I’m an independent for one really clear reason, which I mentioned earlier. It’s because I put my country first and my state first and my people, my constituents, my neighbors, and friends above a political party. Being an independent allows me to think for myself, use facts and common sense to solve problems.
And next to that, growing up as a Quaker, this is particularly special to have a panel like this. And I appreciate you putting it on. I went to Westtown. I was at Earlham in 2004. And it was actually while I was at Earlham that I felt called in 2004 to go down and work for Coretta Scott King in Atlanta.
And I went to one of your predecessors three or four weeks into school. And I said, “Hey, I need to—in this moment what I need to do—” this is so funny because of what you just said. “In this moment, what I need to do is I need to be involved. And the best thing I can do is go down and work for Ms. King. My parents will never allow it.”
Sorry to tell you. “My parents will never allow it. Can you help me?” And your predecessor said yeah. He gave me a full tuition reimbursement. I had been living in the dorms. He gave me the three weeks back, the meal plan and everything.
He said, “Go follow your passion.” And I went down there, worked for her in the year 2004, and started lobbying at the Georgia State Capitol. And that’s what launched my political career. So thank you, Earlham. And thank you, your station.
Personally, I’ll just say most people are not going to be in Colorado, particularly tuning into this. But get involved in anything you care about in your local area. Get involved with Listen First. They’re all over the place. I’m a proxy vote candidate. They’re a fantastic group.
Get involved with your local Democratic Party, local Republican Party, Independence, Green, Libertarians. It doesn’t matter. Take a stand in politics. Show you care. And remember whether or not you’re a Quaker, it doesn’t matter. Whether or not you’re a person of faith, it doesn’t matter.
I’m proud to be a Quaker. They helped invent America. It was the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Women’s suffrage, Quakers were on the front line—the Abolitionist Movement, the Civil Rights Movement.
And even now, AFSC, who were instrumental in supporting the Jewish people during the Nazi era, have now been kicked out of Israel for supporting the Palestinian people. So they’ve continued to take a stand. And being nonviolent doesn’t mean not being an activist. And so I push everyone to, whatever your passion is—
Alan Price: I’m going to stop you there for time. That was perfect.
Nick Thomas: Follow your passion. Right, thank you.
Alan Price: That’s great. Shawna Roberts.
Shawna Roberts: I would say politics matters. Politics matters deeply. People will tell you, “I’m not that into politics. I don’t like politics.” Politics is life and death. Politics is important. And if you don’t get involved in politics, you are letting other people dictate your life and your death.
And it’s important for you to be involved. You don’t necessarily have to be involved in the candidate and politician end. There’s activist groups. There’s other things that get involved as well. But get involved because your life and the lives of people you know and love matter.
And the people that are involved in making those decisions are politicians. Whether you like it or not, that’s where decisions get made that are really crucially important to everything you do and everywhere you are. So I would encourage you to find somebody. If you find me, I will believe in you, and I will love you to death. Because I’m kind of that mama bear kind of person.
I do need to say thank you so much to Olney Friends School for letting me use their facilities. I don’t have web access at home. So they put me up here, which is why it’s simple. And I thank you so much. But please do get involved in politics, whoever you are and wherever you are, because it matters. Thank you.
Alan Price: I’ll just join you in a quick shoutout to Olney Friends. Jamie Zavitz, hello. He was my college housemate here at Earlham College back in the ‘80s, now works at Olney Friends. How are you? Steve Bacher, how would you inspire a generation to come campaign with you?
Steve Bacher: I would say politics is a rare opportunity for young people to get involved. No experience is necessary. I walked in off the street in the 1992 presidential campaign into what turned out to be the state headquarters for the Clinton-Gore campaign. I walked in, started volunteering.
Within a couple of weeks, I was organizing the other volunteers. And by the end of the campaign, I had the title of deputy director and a letter of reference from Governor Ann Richards to go to Washington with. You can walk in and make a difference.
So many elections these days are won and lost by one vote, 10 votes, 100 votes. Your time supporting a candidate that you believe in will make a difference. Take a semester off. Take the summer off. From now until November, we need you. Thank you.
Alan Price: Thank you, Steve Bacher. Molly Sheehan, you have the anchor leg on the answer to inspire a generation to come campaign.
Molly Sheehan: Thank you. Yeah, don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t make a difference. Steve and Darlene, they’re right. Sometimes it’s a vote. It’s 10 votes. There’s a state rep here that just won by 20 votes. And that could be—you can knock that many doors. You can bring that many people over.
And I’m running right now. And we just got new lines. And I was running in a tossup district. And now I’m running in a [INAUDIBLE 01:56:59], which means heavily Democratic district. This is a real opportunity to change the direction of the Democratic Party, to claim a seat for the people, not for corporate interests, and to really speak up.
And so whether it’s my campaign or any campaign you’re passionate about, don’t let anyone tell you you need to wait your turn, or that it’s not your party, or things come from the top down. Change comes from the bottom up. It comes from you.
And if anything, young voters, you have the most to gain from getting involved. You’re going to be here for a long, long time hopefully. So things like climate change and single-payer and all of these things that we want to fight for, you can make a difference. You can set the agenda now.
And you can move up really quickly. I’m running a people-powered campaign. You can be the CEO of your own section of it. I really believe in bottom-up campaigning.
And so if you’re interested in helping, whether remotely or here in the district, especially Haverford College students or Swarthmore College students watching or Bryn Mawr, you can email us at [email protected]mollysheehan.org. Or I’m [email protected]mollysheehan.org. And we will always find something for your wonderful talents to help us with victory and victory for you. And you can move up really fast.
Alan Price: Thank you so much. I’d like to thank our audience for being here with us, for the Quakers in Politics live web panel. On behalf of our sponsors Friends Journal and the Earlham School of Religion, I’d also like to thank our panelists—Steve Bacher running for the Pennsylvania 1st District, Adam Coker running for North Carolina’s 13th District, Darlene McDonald running for Utah’s 4th District, Shawna Roberts running for Ohio’s 6th District, Molly Sheehan running for Pennsylvania’s 5th District, and Nick Thomas running for Colorado’s 2nd District.
I’m Alan Price, president of Earlham College and the Earlham School of Religion. And it has truly been an honor to be with you all. I wish you all the best in your races.
And whatever the outcomes, I am truly appreciative of your service because simply running is a tremendous service. And for all those who help you campaign, that is also a tremendous public service. Thank you all. And have a wonderful evening.
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