SuperPAC Of Progressive Female Filmmakers Dedicated To Helping Turn Virginia Blue In 2017

When people in the United States hear the term “SuperPAC” it can potentially make them nervous. It conjures up images of bought-and-paid-for politicians, lobby money, corporate greed, and basically a bunch of sentiments that seem to be the very antithesis of what is in the best interest of the voters.

The Citizens United Supreme Court ruling from 2010 certainly helped lay the ground for the above atrocities. There is plenty of corruption to fight back against in our politics and thankfully, ever since the 2016 Presidential election has given rise to an incredible wave of resistance, we are seeing this happen more and more.

One organization that is showing how it’s done is the team behind One Vote At A Time. And yes, the are a SuperPAC, but not the kind you love to hate, the kind you want to support and see succeed. The are a “grassroots SuperPAC that creates modern political ads directed by female filmmakers. The ads support candidates at the local and national level by telling personal stories about the issues their constituents face, and highlighting the importance of electing progressive politicians. SuperPACs are powerful political tools, and One Vote at a Time puts that power in the hands of ordinary citizens,” according to a website description.

The organization was founded in 2016 and initially created videos for gun safety legislation, but after Donald Trump was elected in November, they decided to expand their focus. Now they will be focusing on all levels of government, creating even more videos and campaigns to highlight the issues they care about. Right now, Crowdpac is running a crowdfunding campaign where anyone can donate to the cause, which is being supported by Flippable and Sister District. Yep, that means there are no millionaires or billionaires (read: no Koch Brothers money!) backing this initiative. It is a people-powered movement.

During political campaigns, smear ads and videos are quite common, but what One Vote At A Time is doing is choosing to inform voters and empower them with real facts (not alternative ones!) about what candidates stand for. We spoke with Sarah Ullman, the co-founder and co-executive director of One Vote At A Time, to get a first-hand perspective on their mission, and find out why they are currently focusing on political races in Virginia.

You have a background as a filmmaker and have leveraged this as part of the #resistance. Can you explain how media and entertainment is playing an important role against Trump right now?

Media and entertainment built Trump’s brand. He is a household name thanks to his network syndicated reality TV show. I feel a responsibility to use my skills as a filmmaker to fight for what I believe in and defend our civil and human rights from this administration.

At the same time, the entertainment industry needs to think carefully about how to deploy our skills, money, and time. There has been valid criticism of last year’s use of influencers on the Clinton campaign. I think we need to focus on amplifying local voices who will talk to their friends about the importance of electing progressive politicians. Neighbors talking to neighbors.

You and Lauren Kushner started a SuperPAC to raise money, utilize your filmmaking skills and help certain candidates and races. First things first, what does it take to create a SuperPAC?

To create a superPAC, you must file with the FEC. If you know what you’re doing, it takes almost no time at all. If you don’t know what you’re doing, like us, it can take four months until you find someone who knows what they’re doing…and then a few days to actually file the paperwork.

Which races or states are you currently focusing on, and why?

This summer, we are traveling to Virginia to be a free-of-charge production company to progressive candidates for the Virginia House of Delegates. We believe that compelling campaign ads will help these small campaigns talk about the issues, expand their reach to more voters, and WIN.

The fight to turn the Virginia House of Delegates blue this November matters to the whole country. These States are United, after all, and if Virginians were represented fairly in their state legislature, we might have had 1 or 2 fewer Republican votes for Trumpcare in the House of Representatives a few weeks ago.

If gerrymandering to benefit the GOP didn’t distort the will of Virginia’s voters, then 400,00 more people would be eligible for Medicare with Governor McAuliffe’s expansion under Obamacare. If we fight and win this battle to turn the House of Delegates blue, we will show the GOP that their obsequious kowtowing to President Trump has electoral consequences.

Recently we have seen a few lesser-known local races gain national attention (Jon Ossoff in GA, Rob Quist in Montana, for example). How do you hope your SuperPAC and the films you make will benefit more smaller races like these in the future?

Local politics matter; the results of local races “ladder up” to a national impact. If we arm small races with the tools they need to win, our videos’ impact will multiply.

Talk us through some of the previous videos you have made and the impact they have had.

Last year, we made a short documentary called “Mary’s Story” to advocate for Question 1, the Nevada Background Checks for Gun Purchases ballot initiative. It passed by only 9000 votes, which is less than .1 percent of the total votes. We don’t claim that victory as our own, but if we made the difference to even a few voters — it was worth it.

The cool thing about One Vote At A Time is that it is made up of a coalition of female filmmakers. Can you tell us how you assembled the team?

Well…it started with a Facebook post. After the Pulse Nightclub shooting last year, I got mad about guns. I was tired of tweeting, calling, and donating, and I wanted to use my skills as a filmmaker to advocate for gun safety legislation. So I wrote a Facebook post asking who else wanted to help, and that’s how Lauren, my co-founder, came on board. After that, it was lots of meetings and coffees. Talking to anyone and everyone about what we are working on.

What are some of the issues your team is particularly passionate about?

I’m passionate about gun safety, climate change, and choice. But our team’s passions are legion. The common thread is that we are progressive.

One Vote At A Time is a great example of people-powered momentum, which we are seeing a lot of since the 2016 election. How do you hope this will play a role in the fight against dark money and the Citizens United ruling which mostly the GOP have benefited from?

I founded a superPAC, but I still wish they didn’t exist. I think Citizens United was a grievous decision that both parties have used to influence politics. I’m a pragmatist though, and I want to use the same tools the political elite are using to amplify the voices of people. That’s why we’re crowdfunding our Virginia project: We didn’t want to be beholden to one corporation or one donor. I believe Citizens United should be reversed, and electing progressive politicians is step one in that process.

Emily’s List recently reported roughly 11,000 women have expressed interest in running for office since the election. While women only make up 20% of Congress right now, how do you hope One Vote At A Time can play a role in helping more women win seats across the country as you grow?

One Vote At A Time will support progressive candidates running for office, regardless of their gender, starting in Virginia in 2017. However, our team is comprised of women, and we look forward to supporting other women in any way we can — with a campaign video, donations, strategic distribution support, or a job on one of our crews. Women are leading the resistance, and we will fight for women to be fairly represented in our government, one vote at time.


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