A few years ago Lori Goldman would have been her own worst nightmare.
“Sometimes I didn’t vote,” said Goldman, the founder of Fems for Dems. “Sometimes I voted for Republicans or whoever somebody else was voting for. I wasn’t really a great citizen…Now, I’m trying to remedy to that.”
Goldman founded Fems for Dems – a Michigan-based independent political action committee with the goal to help get progressive candidates elected – in 2016, but before you ask, she started it in February of that year, long before the 2016 election results came in.
It began because Goldman was really that excited a women was a viable candidate for president. She wanted to see who of her friends would be interested in and excited like she was to support Hillary Clinton.
Goldman sent out an email to about 500 people she knew.
Initially, a group sat around the kitchen table in her Bloomfield Township home. It's grown to over 5,000, in Oakland, Wayne, Macomb, and Washtenaw counties, and they've even had people from out-of-state reach out.
How has it felt to watch this grow?
“At first, it feels like you’re something special, and then you realize what you knew all along - it’s not about me,” Goldman said. “Unless I can accomplish, unless I can deliver, unless I can motivate more and more people to stop letting other people make decisions for them, then I’m worse than I was before.”
Fems for Dems goal is to motivate fellow voters.
During the 2018 midterm elections, Fems for Dems hosted Speed Dating, an event where voters were given a map where they could find their address to see who was running in their area. Guests could then pop in and out of discussion groups to get to know different candidates.
For 2020, they hope to increase voter turnout and make communities more aware of the new no reason absentee voter law in Michigan. They’ll be canvassing and hosting phone bank and postcard parties, among many other things.
Naturally, with so many Democrats running, Fems for Dems members have different opinions on who they would like to see get elected. But at the end of the day, they’ll support whoever gets the nomination.
“Whoever comes through the primaries we will work our asses off on behalf of,” Goldman said.
Fems for Dems – who also has a sister organization, Fems for Change, a non-partisan, non-profit that teaches people about government and how it works – hopes to increase their own numbers as well, with a goal of growing their community to 20,000 by the 2020 election.
Ultimately, Goldman hopes they go nationwide with Fems for Dems.
“I want to bring other women who are of the mindset that they don’t deserve to step out into the light and to lead and make this world a better place,” she said. “It’s not just about politics, it’s about empowerment for women in so many ways.”
As passionate as she is about politics, Goldman has no desire to run for office. At first, it was because she thought she wasn’t qualified. Now, she has a different answer.
“I would never do it because that would take away whatever power I have to change the world,” she said. “In my group, I can keep growing the numbers of women and men that we put out into the world stronger and more confident and more passionate to join in, to become a part of this process.”
Photo: Laurie Tennent