For those of you who know me, you know I am an avowed liberal. I’ve told the story often of boarding the bus to leave my hotel and head to the airport after being a delegate at the 2008 Democratic Convention when I first heard the name Sarah Palin. The bus was full of political operatives and elected officials from all across the Country. And yes, of course we were all Democrats, but still – we knew the players- or we thought we did. Blank stares all around as the news boomeranged from seat to seat that McCain had chosen a women as his running mate.
“Who the heck IS she?” was the question of the hour. Smart phones were whipped out and soon we were shouting tidbits of information across the aisles and up and down the bus as fast as our fingers could fly and eyes could read.
“She’s a Governor” “Alaska” “Right wing” “Anti-environmentalist” “Anti-Choice”
I would sum up the general feeling as “not impressed” and of course the campaign didn’t do much to dispel that feeling for those of us on the left side of the aisle.
But still, there was this wonderful fact that she was a woman. And I, for one, was a bit conflicted. I was excited the Republican Party had added a touch of diversity to their ticket. I was excited that more young girls could see for themselves an example of a woman who was running on a ticket for Vice President.
And then the media got ahold of her and the handlers apparently lost control (maybe they never had it in the first place, who knows?). As a campaign professional I saw the demise of Sarah Palin in that horrendous interview with Katie Couric.
And since then she has not redeemed herself and after the speech last week in Iowa seems to have been abandoned completely by her base.
Here is my post on Facebook regarding Kathleen Parker’s article on the speech and Palin’s downfall:
The sacrifice of Sarah Palin – The Washington Post- this article speaks to the reason for all my work with WomenElect. All too often women are sacrificed easily if they are not ready to play the game. We need to make sure qualified women (and no, I’m certainly not arguing Palin was qualified but that’s part of my point) are ready to run for office. It takes much more than 1 day of campaign school to accomplish that for even the most intelligent and talented women. http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/kathleen-parker-the-sacrifice-of-sarah-palin/2015/01/27/cfa46cc0-a65e-11e4-a7c2-03d37af98440_story.html
My issue is this – running for office is hard. And as a woman you are expected to jump in and play what is traditionally masculine game, by their rules with intuition on what those are while demonstrating skill in playing the game from the outset. And if you don’t perform they are very happy to mock, belittle and attack you – or far more devastating – cut you loose.
Cliché as it is the phrase: “Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars” is no more apparent than in the rough and tumble world of politics.
But the women can learn how the play the game, and even how to dominate the field, if they take the time and effort before they claim the spotlight.
So, next time you say to a female colleague, friend or family member, “hey, you should run for office!” and they reply “oh no I just can’t – yada yada blah blah excuse excuse” remind them that there are programs and people that will help them not only understand, but win the game of politics.
Our world will be a better place for it if you do…