Failure is never easy, especially when you are used to succeeding. I finished high school when I was 16, and law school when I was 21. I was crowned “Miss Mafikeng” in 1982, winning a hairdryer for being the prettiest girl in primary school. I was one of the youngest lawyers sworn into the Supreme Court of South Africa. I won a green card in the DV lottery. I immigrated to America with less than $10,000, two suitcases, and one brand new husband. No jobs, little money, knowing no one.
Our first apartment in San Francisco was a studio apartment in the notorious inner city slum, the Tenderloin. My first non-temp job was at Apple Computer, working as a paralegal while I took the California Bar Exam, which I passed on my first try. I worked my way up to better companies, better positions, better neighborhoods. I went back to school to pursue an MBA. I gave it up. Later, I went back to school and completed my MFA.
Life threw curveballs. My mother had a severe stroke at the age of 40, when I was 16. She survived, albeit a bit lopsided. I lost a lot of paper money on stock options when the Internet bubble burst. My husband’s tech start-up failed. I was laid off with thousands of others. Family members passed away. A friend committed suicide. Miscarriages happened. I was wrongly arrested. I fought the case all the way to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals. I prevailed. My determination means 13 million people now have the affirmed 1st Amendment right to film police encounters in public.
I have now twice run for New Hampshire Senate in District 20, and lost. Granted, I lost against an Institution, a now 11-term incumbent, an eighty year-old man who has only ever worked for the state, the self-proclaimed “Lion of the Senate.” Back in San Francisco, to encourage excellence at the startup where I worked, we used to say, ‘Go Big or Go Home.’
Well… I’m home.
Contemplating my election loss, I recall the shame and frustration I felt as a child when I didn’t get picked for the school choir. I love to sing, but I wasn’t good enough. “What do you mean, ‘No?’” I can see my younger self huffing, unaware then that failure is a part of success, because one thing is certain: If you don’t try, you will never level up.
My number one fear during my campaign was, “What if I do worse than last time?” Even in the face of a mighty New Hampshire Blue Wave, with record-setting new voter registration, and a measurable 10-15% increase in Democratic turnout in my district, my support went up by 2%.
But all that effort, all those yard signs placed, all those rainy, windy afternoons on street corners waving signs, all those meet and greets, all those local TV shows, all those op-eds and essays written, all those Letters to the Editors that appeared from supporters (8:1 in my favor), all those thousands of doors knocked by me and a sea of volunteers, for TWO LOUSY PERCENT? Wasn’t this just a colossal waste of time? Upon reflection, nope.
I stuck to my principles. I told people the truth about the damaging size and scope of the ever-growing, ever-invasive government. I reminded you of the dangers of socialism, which, sadly, do not disappear just because you slap the word “democratic” in front of it. I publicly supported marijuana legalization and educational freedom for all children. I spoke about the neutral beauty and mutual benefits of free markets. I pushed the two Constitutional Amendments, which did pass, at every turn.
The next two years will serve as a reminder to Granite Staters about why limited government, one that lives within its means through low spending and low taxes, one that protects individual rights, is the best way to organize society. When the budget is busted, and your taxes start to rise, and they come for our guns, remember, we could have done better.
Over this past year, I did do other remarkable things: I lost 65 pounds following a Keto lifestyle (low carb, medium protein, high good fats). I quit drinking alcohol. I didn’t waiver on either of these goals, even under boatloads of stress, constantly confronted by pizza-laden tables and open bars at events. I know that in order to advocate the virtues of individual liberty and personal responsibility–from wealth to health–it has to start from the inside out. So I started with what I could control: me.
I encourage you to start with you too. Instead of trying to force everyone to bend to your will, or your idea of the “greater good,” why not simply strive to live your own life according to your values? Donate to the charities you care about. Go help someone who needs it. Take care of you and yours. Save for the future. Figure out how to live a healthy life. Being on Medicaid and smoking cigarettes helps no one, yanno? True freedom comes from living your principles free of government intervention, by setting and meeting your own personal goals, by working to make yourself the best you can be without being told to do it. Do it because you want to, and because you are still free to.
To my husband, Louis Calitz, a special, heartfelt thanks. Every time I freaked out–I wish I’d said this, or maybe if I did this, people would understand the destructive socialist path we are on–he reminded me: Just be yourself, and let the chips fall where they may.
The chips fell, but I stayed true to myself and my message, with a great and wonderful man by my side (and Schmelly Nellie), so I’m OK.
The producer of “Rock, Paper, Hand Grenades,” a local TV show, posted this on social media the day before the election:
“Had the pleasure of meeting this young woman when she came on the show. Have to say…. I’ve always said, ‘If you call yourself a politician, I instantly don’t respect you as much because politicians are just awful’ but I gotta be honest, she had me hook, line and sinker, spoke from the heart and caught my attention. (Not to mention, she’s got some great ideas.)”
This is what gives me hope. I will continue to spread the message of individual liberty, which is literally the recipe for human flourishing, peace, and prosperity. I will continue to fight for the things that make New Hampshire unique and prosperous: Live free or die!
My time will come. In the interim, I’m signing up for singing lessons. Stay tuned for the high notes!