In an era when social media gaffes and ill-advised PR stunts can make or break a political campaign, it’s certainly refreshing to see an ad go viral for all the right reasons. MJ Hager, a US Air Force veteran and resident of Round Rock, Texas who is running for Congress in the midterm elections in November, has managed just that with her latest powerful video, which has so far been shared over 10,000 times from her official campaign account.
Titled ‘Doors,’ the three and a half minute clip explains just why Hager has chosen to take on Republican congressman John Carter in the Republican heartland of Texas. It starts off a little like the opening of a Nineties sit-com, with Hegar’s voiceover telling us that ‘this is a story about doors, a lot of them,’ before introducing her as an Air Force combat veteran and a mom, sat at the dinner table with her young family. But behind her is a helicopter door, a reminder of her tours in Afghanistan, and it soon becomes clear that MJ has an important story to tell.
We soon learn about the air crash that sadly curtailed Hager’s military career, and that the door she keeps in her house was taken from that wreckage. It’s clear that as a woman working in the military, doors metaphorical and physical have defined her career: indeed, she tells us that, growing up in a single parent family, pursuing her dream of working as a pilot meant ‘opening, pushing and sometimes kicking through every door.’ When the plane crash meant she couldn’t fly any more, she claims she was ‘barred’ from her next career move because of her gender.
Watch MJ Hegar's campaign video below...
Not one to sit back and let that happen, she sued the Pentagon over the ban on women serving in ground combat jobs in the US military – and she won, opening, as she says, ‘the door for hundreds of thousands of women to compete for elite ground combat jobs.’ Before this success, however, Hager found it difficult to secure meetings with members of Congress to discuss her case: when she asked to talk with her congressman, John Carter, a member of the Tea Party (a hyper-conservative faction of the Republican party), she found the door was closed because she was not a party donor. As she puts it, ‘being his constituent and a veteran wasn’t enough to get a meeting.’ Now, she’s going up against him as a Democratic candidate in a so-called deep red state, to take on ‘a system that cares more about campaign donors and political parties than protecting our country.'
Though winning a seat as a Democrat in a traditionally conservative state certainly won’t be easy, Hager’s video has rightly been praised on social media: for her inspiring story and career, and for her positive message in a time when US politics seemed mired in talk of North Korea and Trump’s immigration policy. But can viral fame translate into success at the polls? Local pundits have already noted that Texas 31, Hegar’s constituency, has now swayed from a ‘Solid R’ rating to a ‘Likely R’ rating, a small step in her favour. We’ll have to wait until November to find out, of course, but until then, we’ll be watching her video for proof that one woman can definitely make a difference.
Find out more about MJ Hager's campaign at www.mjfortexas.com_._
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