It only takes one!
Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold was the sole vote against the Patriot Act during the first vote on the legislation in 2001.
A bill every single member of Congress admitted they had not read before voting.
Feingold warned the Patriot Act, especially section 215, infringed upon citizens' civil liberties without oversight or restriction.
Margaret Chase Smith, the first woman Senator elected on her own merit, was also the first Senator to stand against McCarthyism (despite being a junior Senator):
"Mr. President," she began, "I would like to speak briefly and simply about a serious national condition.... The United States Senate has long enjoyed worldwide respect as the greatest deliberative body.... But recently that deliberative character has...been debased to...a forum of hate and character assassination." In her 15-minute address, delivered as McCarthy looked on, Smith endorsed every American’s right to criticize, to protest, and to hold unpopular beliefs. “Freedom of speech is not what it used to be in America,” she complained. “It has been so abused by some that it is not exercised by others.” She asked her fellow Republicans not to ride to political victory on the “Four Horsemen of Calumny–Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry, and Smear.” As she concluded, Smith introduced a statement signed by herself and six other Republican senators–her “Declaration of Conscience."
Tammy Duckworth, the first Asian American woman elected to Congress in Illinois, the first disabled woman to be elected to
Congress, the first female double amputee in the Senate, the first Senator to give birth while in office, and the first member of Congress born in Thailand, also became the first senator to cast a vote on the Senate floor with her newborn by her side in 2018.
Duckworth said in her statement: “Parenthood isn’t just a women’s issue, it’s an economic issue and one that affects all parents — men and women alike,” the senator continued. “As tough as juggling the demands of motherhood and being a Senator can be, I’m hardly alone or unique as a working parent, and my children only make me more committed to doing my job and standing up for hardworking families everywhere.”
In the last three years, we have begun to see politicians say no to corporate donations. Organizations like Justice Democrats and Candidates for a Contract have actively recruited candidates and motivated sitting senators to keep dark money out of politics. First, Bernie Sanders announced that he would not be accepting super PAC donations. He has since been followed by Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibran, Kamala Harris, Corey Booker, Maria Cantwell and house members Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), John Sarbanes (D-Md.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), and Francis Rooney (R-Fla.).
Maxine Waters has never been one to simply go with the status quo. In 1992, she first gained national attention when she helped Rodney King deliver relief supplies in Watts and demanded the resumption of services that were vital to the community. In 2017, Maxine Waters "Reclaimed Her Time," when during a House Financial Services Committee, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin attempted to run out the clock on her questioning. She blatantly called him out on his actions, validating that her time was worthy.
It only takes ONE person to stand up and make a difference.