April 18, 2017
When someone asked me after the first two Martin County Women’s Democrats meetings I attended if I would consider becoming the club President, my first thought was, “Oh shit, we’re in even worse shape than I thought.”
That was in February, and since then I’ve heard I “should run for something” more times than Brian Mast has said, “Behind closed doors.”
Whenever it happens, these are my thoughts, pretty much in order:
- No thank you.
- Run for what?
- I’m not qualified for anything.
- Kirsten Gillibrand: “It doesn’t matter if you haven’t worked your way up. The guys run every time. I can’t tell you how many 30-year-old dudes believe they should be senator or president. Women, we’re like, ‘Well, maybe after ten years of working…’ No. Just run for the office you want to run for and run on the issue you want to fix.”
- Hmm, good point, and I could use a new job. (I work in healthcare; nuff said.)
- Still, thank you, that’s flattering—I think—but no thank you.
- I have little kids.
- Not that moms can’t do it—we CAN and DO—it’s just not for me.
- I cry, like, five times a meeting. And curse a lot.
- And ew.
I get it. We want women to run. We need women to run, and win. I’m not only a woman, but I’m young-ish, relatively well-informed and articulate, and my fury and despair about everything that’s going on manifest in showing up to lots of meetings with lots of energy and funny motivational socks.
But good lord, we need more than that. As much as I LOVE Michelle Obama, I don’t really think she’s qualified to be the next president as many have wistfully proposed, although she would be sleeping next to a killer human cheat sheet. (And no, I’m not comparing myself to that goddess, it’s just a metaphor.)
There are plenty of women out there who, for years, have been quietly putting their heads down and working in myriad businesses, associations, committees, and groups, creating policies, implementing programs, assessing outcomes, and advancing all kinds of benefits to society. They are the Hillary Clintons (whatever anyone thinks about her, she has indisputably done the work), as opposed to the come-lately yahoos like Sarah Palin who think their pseudo-political branding and by-golly snark will get the job done. (And I am certainly not comparing myself to that fucking twit, either, even if she was a governor.)
I’m going to keep showing up, because we all have roles to fill in the resistance, and I embrace being a consistent, heartfelt voice to help rally our troops, the very troops that in turn console me, lift me up, inspire me anew every day, and give me hope that we will fight our way out of this mess together. The troops that will turn this red nightmare blue, or better yet, ROYGBIV.
But who do we really need to run, and right now I’m talking about locally. Are there any names in the ring for County Commissioner? For School Board? For State seats? (I’ve heard one name there, Paula Albright, and I LOVE it. But even she hasn’t committed to running, and why? Money. How do we fix the problem that only the independently wealthy—or corrupt—can realistically run? That’s a question for another discussion.)
What about House Representative? I’ve heard two names to run against Brian Mast in 2018—Dave Aronberg, who I don’t really know much about other than he’s in midst of a divorce (sad, but relevant? Maybe. Maybe not), and someone else so uninspiring I can’t recall the name, and I’m paying attention. Most people aren’t. Not what we need. I had never heard of Andrew Gillum, either, but I was inspired the very first time I did.
So, tell me some characteristics we should seriously be looking for in a candidacy, and some names. Not the vague, bullshit talking points: “Integrity.” “Dependable.” “Working for you.” Blah, blah, blah, those should be a damn given. What should we really be looking for?
These are my suggestions.
A work history that speaks for itself in terms of organizational success and colleague respect.
A personal/career agenda collateral to, not superseding, the job description and common good.
Someone who is not infatuated with money, so won’t be bought off. Someone who thinks, I’m doing okay, and I want other people to be doing okay too. And then thinks, Great, now let’s all do even better.
Someone who learned most of what they need to know in kindergarten: Be kind. Share. Cooperate. Compromise. Don’t be the spoiled asshole demanding all the attention. Play well with others. Be fair. Don’t cheat. Admit when you’re wrong. Learn from your mistakes. Be responsible. Encourage others. Do your best.
(That seems like a lot for 5-year-olds, doesn’t it? But they mostly do it. And yes, adult life and leadership are more complex than offering a hug when someone falls off a swing, or divvying up the cheddar-flavored Goldfish, but still, we should no longer expect or accept less from our leaders than we do our children.)
I have four in mind (yep, all women), but I’ve never talked about running for anything with any of them, and I haven’t even spoken lately to two of them so, for privacy, I’m not going to name them here. But I will reach out to them. If they run, I will vote for them. And if they don’t–if they, too, think, “Ew, no thank you, not for me.–” I will still hold them up as models for those who do run.
So tell me, what—and who—do you think we really need? 2018 is depending on good answers. And our country is depending on 2018.