Suburban women are on a mission to save America — and it may not stop at ousting Trump

Suburban women are on a mission to save America — and it may not stop at ousting Trump
Photo via Gage Skidmore.

rom politically apathetic to pants on fire urgency, Lori Goldman of Troy, Michigan, is among the ranks of suburban women who have felt called to duty by the existential threat to America that is Donald Trump.

Dressed in yoga pants and sneakers and whizzing through suburban streets on the state's east side to leave no door unknocked, Goldman has taken on the very mantra that many Democratic strategists have employed to help fight the complacency that some believe led to Hillary Clinton's defeat in 2016.

"We take nothing for granted," she told her canvassing partner, according to the Associated Press. "They say Joe Biden is ahead. Nope. We work like Biden is behind 20 points in every state."

These suburban women stories are everywhere now and they tell a similar tale of mostly white suburban women—some of whom voted Trump in 2016 and others of whom did not—feeling called to effect a different outcome for themselves, for their family, for other families, and for the nation in 2020.

Goldman founded the group Fems for Dems in early 2016 with an email to a few hundred of her friends. Now the group boasts nearly 9,000 members. She may drink Aperol spritzers and have her sights trained on the tony Detroit suburbs of Michigan's Oakland County, but make no mistake—she's taking no prisoners.

"I hate the saying, 'When they go low, we go high.' That's loser talk," she says. "You can be right all day, but if you're not winning, what's the point?"

Clinton actually did win Oakland County by about eight points in 2016, but she did so by fewer points than Barack Obama in 2012. The difference in their win margins alone could have cut Trump's 10,700-vote triumph in the state by half, according to the AP.

Two years later, Democratic gubernatorial candidate and now-governor Gretchen Whitmer doubled Clinton's margin in the county, while Democrat Elissa Slotkin unseated a GOP incumbent to represent the district. And while Goldman has successfully grown her group of "dumpy, middle-aged housewives" as she once called them, she is simultaneously dismayed by how fatigued many of her members grown by the daily the churn of Trump crazy.

"Our house is on fire," Goldman says.

Portraits of transformation like that of Goldman abound in these stories. And some of those transitions include a more comprehensive outlook on what their vote means for the nation rather than just their own self interests.

Kate Rabinovitch of Westerville, Ohio, reluctantly voted for Trump in 2016 and now spends all her in-between moments texting with friends and family and generating social media posts to turn the tide against him.

Rabinovitch, who has a 4-year-old son, has many objections to Trump, but she also pinpointed the killing of George Floyd as a seminal moment for her. Before February, she said, racism wasn't a key issue for her. But watching that video really impressed upon her the structural racism that continues to plague the country.

"I have to think of everybody," Rabinovitch told The New York Times. "So if I'm voting against Donald Trump, that's not a vote for me or a vote for my son. That's a vote for everyone. Everyone's sons."

Ohio-based Katie Paris founded Red, Wine, and Blue, an all-female team of suburbanites working to organize suburban women for Ohio Democrats. The Times describes Paris' political ethos as one part Obama strategist David Plouffe, one part psychological researcher Brené Brown—a combination of clear-eyed data analysis and vulnerable peer conversations. She also specifically feels the pull of white women needing to do their part to turn the country around.

"We can't leave this all on Black voters to carry all the weight in Ohio," said Paris, who is white. "It's going to take all of us."

And while all these women are making an immediate push to oust Trump, many of them also seem committed to a longer haul vision of transforming the country—or at least a sustained change in their own political alignments that could create long-term trouble for Republicans.

"I cannot imagine a Republican candidate that I would rally behind," says Ohioan Hannah Dasgupta, a young mother of two who grew up in a conservative home. "Wow, that's mind-blowing to think about. That's a huge departure."

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