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Showing posts with label whitehouseproject. Show all posts
Showing posts with label whitehouseproject. Show all posts

15 December 2010

One Feminist's Take on the No Labels Launch: Part 1

One of my favorite scenes from "The West Wing" is from the episode "Angel Maintenance." In it Matt McCoy plays a moderate Republican Congressman who is working with Josh on a bill. He goes off on Josh and I believe Toby (no, I'm not digging out the DVDs on this one) about how offended he is that the Democrats are targeting him in the upcoming election. He outlines in a very Yoda way that by pushing him, a moderate, out of office only opens the door for a far more conservative candidate to replace him or for him to have to go hard right to keep his seat.

It is a favorite because it was one of many moments that really stuck with me and made me consider how I view moderates. Not only that, but to consider the physics of politics. What happens those of us on the left push for others to be just as left? Some of them join us. Others run hard right.

As friends & long time readers know, I'm not a good Democrat. I don't send money to the party, DCCC, DSCC or local Dem groups. As a feminist I am hugely disappointed in how often the party selects men to go up against women Dems in primaries. I am also hugely disappointed in the notion of Blue Dog Democrats who sit with the Dems, but often vote against issues, like choice, that are central to being a Democrat. I also live in Chicago and not all Democrats are "good" Democrats.

Which brings me to our last election. I publicly supported the Democrat Forrest Claypool, who ran as an independent, for County Assessor. The Democratic candidate Joe Berrios won. What did Scott Cisek, Director of Cook County, tweet the next day?

Yes, it was a fierce campaign and yes, I was disappointed the next day, but this tweet fits right into how I've felt the party has been run. "Good Democrats" tow the party line. "Bad Democrats" think and act on their own convictions.

All that is why I attended the No Labels launch in New York on Monday.

I received the invitation to attend through The White House Project. I've attended a training in 2007 and really enjoyed it. Not to mention that I didn't get to finish the training in 2007 due to horrible weather. So an invitation "from Marie Wilson" + event in NYC + a chance to finish a training + the event happened after the semester was over and BAM! I was in. Yup, it was like I was Luke headed back to Dagobah.

So on Sunday I sat in a room with 100 other women who have run for office, want to run for office or want to help other women run for office talking about the dire situation that our country finds itself in. There was a huge theme of women as collaborators, willing to find common ground and great communicators. Yes, lots of gender essentialism.

But it was a feeling that appeared to be agreed upon by all the women in the room. It was confirmed by mom after mom talking about how they have to find common ground between their kids. I shared the fact that Tony & I have to compromise on our parenting decisions. 90-95% of our parenting ideas are agreed upon, it's that last bit that requires compromise. A woman at my table said, "That's just like our country!"

Lisa Borders, one of the trainers, told us that the day after she lost her bid to be mayor of Atlanta the only call she received from politicos was from a lone Republican. Lisa is a Democrat.

Kiki McLean kept talking about wanting to make her party (the Dems) stronger by pushing them to reach across the aisle and backing up elected officials (of all parties) when they do work towards bipartisan solutions. She gives props on the No Labels blog to Tom Coburn for not taking the bait and calling President Obama names.

While one woman did ask how No Labels would handle issues like abortion and the death penalty, most of the day was focused on process.

Process such as going into a room to find common ground, not enter a discussion over a bill or issue "hoping that the other side loses." Process such as stop calling each other names like "hijackers" and "socialists."

I am a progressive pro-choice Latina mom. I like my labels. But this room of women made me question if I need to cling so tightly to them.

I went to bed on Saturday, exhausted and eager to see what Monday would bring.

02 December 2007

Go Run - Safely Home & Afterthoughts

In the end, the sight of the snow storm from the hotel windows scared my posse & me enough to hit the road early - way early. We left at 3 pm.

I'll go over the individual sessions in separate posts, but overall it was worth it to travel to Wisconsin for a day to learn why women are needed in politics. At the beginning of November Tucker Carlon told Eleanor Smeal that women are too smart to be in politics. Well I met some brilliant women this weekend who are in politics this weekend. What Mr. Bow-tie is reallly worried about is the idea that if we do get enough women in politics the game changes.

Panel after panel, women elected to offices that ranged from local to state-wide showed that in very little time, they were changing the way that the game was being played. Being a Chicagoan I know that politics is much more than just passing laws to make this world a better, safer place. There are friends to help out, our cousin's best friend's company to gift a sweetheart contract with, and of course, limiting the freedoms of others.

While the overall tone of the training was that as women we're better suited to lead this country and world because we're more caring & nurturing, I know better than that. BUT...BUT...I do believe that most of the women who run for office are out to CHANGE things instead of out for an ego trip.

The major obstacle for women to run for office? Money? Nope. Experience? Nope. It is the lack of confidence that we can do it and the fact that we are rarely asked to run. If we're asked to run, we'll do it...If we have a supportive network.

I do have to admit that I have a pretty damn supportive husband. The elected official women talked a lot about how women are the ones who take sick days for the kids, take the kids for their shots, and clean the house. Those of you who know me know that I rarely clean my home. Which is one of the first steps for running for office - let someone else do it! Of course, it is my husband who does a lot of the cleaning or reminding to clean. When our daughter is sick we alternative who stays home with her based on whose schedule can handle it or who last did it. Sometimes if we can do it, we'll both stay home with her and work from home. 90% of the time we both take her to doctor's and dentist appointments together. Since I have the car during the day, I do them more than him, but that is only if he absolutely cannot make it.

The biggest flaw in the training was that it was so Wisconsin-centric. I guess it was nice for this Chicago gal to finally be thrown for a loop like that, but I wish I would had known that before hand. There was A LOT in the trainings that was applicable to any campaign or life in general, but there were times when my posse & I felt like we were missing out on an inside joke.

We really wanted to stay for the entire training. Claudia because of the Shirley Chisholm DVD viewing, Ruth just because, and me...the class photo & the online networking. I'm a geek like that. But I'm happy we did leave when we did. I can't imagine us getting into our cars at 11 pm and hitting the slick, icy, and snowy roads while exhausted.

Thank you to Marie Wilson for The White House Project!

Now to go put some clothes in the wash and hit the shower. I have another training this morning before the Bears game. Ah, my life is so exciting.

Technorati tags: White House Project, politics, Marie Wilson

01 December 2007

Go Run - Building to Change

wow...I can't get over how many fabu women are in this room. We just finished up a session on building your community for change. I admit that I am horrible at being strategic about life and this session was all about planning.

More on this later.

Technorati tags: White House Project, politics, Marie Wilson

Go Run - Welcome Reception

Good morning!

Weather report - It looks cold out there, but so far no snow or rain, but everyone is warning that it will be bad later today. Hopefully it'll all happen while we're in the hotel.

So last night...it was great! The woman, er, young woman who runs the trainings is only 26. Ok, so that didn't do too much for my ego, but hey, she's doing an awesome job. She told us a little bit about who is here and we range in age from 17 to 66 years old. Seventeen!? OK, now I really feel like a slacker. But gotta say, if this had existed when I was 17, I'd be here too. We have teachers, students (my roomie is a freshman at Alverno), engineers, homemakers, crossing guards, lawyers, and activists. 25% of us don't affiliate with any major party. We have one sister-sister team and one mother-daughter team (I met them in the elevator and was wistful. My mom was PTA president...sigh).

The White Project is in Wisconsin thanks to some grants they received to work in Wisconsin. Thus a lot of the information we'll receive this weekend is based on Wisconsin data. I have no problem with that mostly because with the urban sprawl we have in Chicago, Milwaukee is just about a suburb of Chicago. That means, at least for me, what happens in Milwaukee is just as important as what happens in Naperville, Joliet, or NW Indiana.

We did learn that President Barbie will be running again in 2008. Later in the evening Marie Wilson did say that Mattel says her feet can't be fixed, but did note that by 2004 the box said "Doll needs support" instead of "Doll can not stand alone."

There was a great inspirational address by WI Representative Tamara Grisby and a really honest panel with four amazing women. Breakfast is in 10 minutes and I need to pack up, so I'll blog about that later.

Until then, enjoy some photos:

Planned Parenthood of Milwaukee was present. They had some great books on talking to kids about sex. There was even a book that was dubbed the "Our Bodies Ourselves for preteen girls." I gotta find that one!

The Latina in the photo is running for office. She's running against a long time incumbent. I wished her lots of luck.

I was told that the woman in the photo is the first African-American ever elected to state-wide office in Wisconsin and holds many "first African-American" titles in WI politics. She was like a rock star...everyone wanted a few minutes with her.

Technorati tags: White House Project, politics, Marie Wilson


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