When Stacy McMahan first heard that one person could make a difference, she took it to heart. What she didn’t expect was the kind of local and statewide impact she would soon come to have.
McMahan is a native Texan, Marine mom, and retired paralegal who lives with her husband on 11 acres in east Texas. “We live on a farm and raise Nubian goats and Muscovy ducks, and we’re building a home,” she said.
McMahan wasn’t looking to get involved in politics, but she knew she was tired of just “yelling at the television.” One day, while watching an interview of her U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert on Fox News, she decided to make a change.
“Louie made a comment about how one person can make a difference, so I started looking online for who I could get involved with,” she said.
She soon got plugged into Ted Cruz’s first U.S. Senate campaign and found an exciting new community of like-minded Texans. “Getting involved in the Cruz campaign, I met so many people from across the state, and now they’re my friends that I reach out to for advice or just to talk.”
Yet that was only the beginning of McMahan’s involvement. She started becoming active in numerous community organizations, including the Republican Party of Gregg County, Republican Women of Northeast Texas, and Grassroots America: We The People.
In 2014, McMahan helped begin East Texans for Liberty, a nonpartisan group whose purpose is to effect change in public policy and advance “the core values of constitutionally limited government, fiscal responsibility and free markets.” The organization desires to “educate, organize, and activate people of all ages to become involved in civic affairs, preserve these values through political action, and to work cooperatively with other like-minded groups.”
The group kicked off its first meeting with Lt. Col. Allen West as their special guest, and have since hosted numerous elected officials such as Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
One important focus of McMahan’s group is respect, including encouraging civil discourse and positive interaction. “What I hear from elected officials or people that didn’t particularly like me is that we’ve really brought back some respect to politics,” she said. “We’ve shown that it’s not destroy, destroy, destroy, but that you can still work together even when you don’t agree on every issue.”
That respect has given McMahan an even greater impact in her community. “It’s kind of weird the first time you get called and asked who you’re going to vote for, and now I get asked for a list of endorsements,” she said.
But to McMahan, it’s not about the featured guests, accolades, or anything else — none of which she initially expected. It’s about protecting the liberties we’re privileged to have and encouraging others to do the same.
McMahan’s top priorities are defending life, religious liberty, and bettering education. Yet she is also passionate about one topic often overlooked: closed primaries. With straight-party ticket voting set to expire in 2020, McMahan says it’s important for each party to maintain their election integrity. She also wants to get voters information so they can make educated decisions on who they’re electing to represent the community and defend liberty. “I would like there to be one location where the voters can be sent to, that gives a list of every candidate running, their information, and a statement by the candidate with their website. And let it be unbiased,” she said.
McMahan helped to test run that idea last election cycle in Upshur County, and it went better than expected. “We had so many more people come out to the forums, so many more people go vote,” she said. “We put it in the newspaper, and the day it came out our website almost crashed from the amount of traffic. Voters are hungry for that kind of information.”
Despite McMahan’s growing impact in her community and the countless opportunities she’s been given over the years, she said it’s not difficult to start making a difference. “It’s not hard to pick up the phone and call a local organization or one of your representatives,” she said. “Or invite someone like Allen West out, because he didn’t know me from Adam when I called him.”
She also advised anyone to pick just one most important issue, and to run with it. “Find one topic to focus on and learn everything you can on it. There’s so many issues and you’d be constantly busy if you tried to tackle all of them.”
McMahan said once you have that issue, start finding ways to get involved in it. “Get to know your local leadership and your house reps,” she said. “Even though you may disagree on some issues, find ways to work together on others.”
Like McMahan, unexpected opportunities could await anyone who simply decides to start doing something, getting involved in causes they are passionate about.
In her free time, McMahan enjoys gardening, singing in her church choir, and keeping up with all her farm animals.