She expected backlash for switching political parties. The opposite happened.

Lori Stegmann is putting values over party — and people are taking notice.

Stegmann is a county commissioner in Oregon, a position that's normally pretty under the radar. But her story has been going viral and becoming a national one since she announced that she is leaving the Republican Party and becoming a Democrat.

"There's too much at stake in our country right now and we have to speak out," she wrote on Facebook.


"As a woman, a business owner, a mother, an immigrant, and a minority," she continued, "I cannot condone the misogyny, the racism, and the unethical and immoral behavior of the current administration. I fear for the safety of our country, for human rights, for women's rights, the environment, and the uncertainty of our future."

Image via Lori Stegmann/Facebook.

Describing herself as a political moderate, Stegmann made it clear it wasn't about attacking Republicans or endorsing Democrats.

It was about finding a home for the values she refuses to give up.

"This decision is about who I am, what I believe in, and my core values," she wrote. "And if you don't stand for something, then you stand for nothing."

Stegmann expected major backlash. But so far, that hasn't happened.

She admitted she expected a lot of negative feedback from her constituents, especially over the fact that she became a Democrat instead of simply leaving the Republican Party.

"I didn't do this to attack, criticize, or belittle my Republican friends," she wrote. "I still consider them my friends and colleagues, and hope that they will do the same. But I know this will be hard for some to hear."

Instead, her Facebook post has received mostly supportive comments. Her story was picked up by major media outlets as yet another example of a career public servant finding themselves forced to choose between party and country.

Stegmann might be taking cues from a growing number of Republicans and conservatives who have recently publicly advocated support for Democrats.

And it's not just about Trump. Even Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said voters should support the Democratic candidate over a self-identified Nazi Republican running for Congress.

Real political courage is about standing up for our values in the face of adversity.

America's politics are becoming increasingly tribal. Even good people sometimes find themselves torn between doing what's right and being loyal to their "team."

It doesn't have to be that way.

Stegmann's letter shows there is a way to protest while embracing what's best about us. And it might just be the best way to get our elected leaders to start taking notice.

In 2015, Gravity Payments CEO Dan Price had a life-changing epiphany.

Price, who founded Gravity with his brother in 2004, was out hiking in the Cascade Mountains with his friend, Valerie. She told him her landlord had raised her rent by $200 and she was struggling to get by on her $40,000 a year income. Price, who was making $1.1 million a year as CEO of Gravity, was struck by her story. Not only did he feel for Valerie—a military veteran working two jobs and barely making ends meet—realized that some of his own employees might be facing similar struggles.

And they were. One employee frankly told him his entry-level salary was a rip-off. Another employee had secretly been working at McDonald's outside of work hours to make ends meet. So Price decided to make a drastic change by investing in his employees.

He researched how much money the average person would need in order to live comfortably and settled on $70,000 a year. In one fell swoop, he dropped his own salary to that amount, while also making it the minimum salary for anyone who worked at Gravity.

The move drew media coverage—and dire predictions from pundits. On Fox News and other conservative outlets he was called "foolish," a "socialist" and a "lunatic of lunatics." Rush Limbaugh called the company policy "pure unadulterated socialism" that was "going to fail" and should be a case study in MBA programs on how socialism doesn't work. Talking heads predicted that his employees would end up in the welfare line.

Six years later, Price has proved the haters wrong—by a lot.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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