I admittedly have had my head in the sand about 2020, but today I attended a small women of color meeting with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Interesting. We started immediately with questions for the Senator; no stump speech or warm up. Many people asked questions about the situation at the southern border and policies around maternal health, economic and education opportunities for low income families. She had great, specific policy answers each time.
When my turn came I asked, “I share your deep appreciation for the policy details, but given all the issues that the current administration has been stirring up and our numerous national challenges, what three issues should we prioritize?” It was an earnest question from someone suffering from Orange-fatigue. She kind of answered with the usual trifecta: healthcare, education, jobs. Right. I followed up with: What about foreign policy and global leadership? The Senator launched first into all of Orange’s foibles with the Middle East peace process, North Korea and then settled on China as our biggest threat.
The question and answer session was then followed by a how can Kirsten do better sesh with her staff. I nearly rolled my eyes when one female participant criticized the Senator’s wardrobe. Oy. One step forward, two steps back. Most comments were about the need for storytelling as a vehicle for policy discussion as well as a tighter focus on core values and key policy positions. I can’t imagine that this would be different for any other candidate.
With that build up, I give you my key takeaways:
– Senator Gillibrand is a smart and tough lady, whose grasp of policy and legislative process I admire. She provided very specific policy recommendations for issues from black maternal health to student debt, higher education, and even reparations. Mayor Pete and Beto should take note that policies matter.
– She talks very fast, some would say too fast.
– When answering a question, one should always lead with the most important point first. If China is the real threat, then you should lead with that. Don’t take a trip around the world to get there.
– Her clothes are fine, though I wish all the candidates would show more personality with their wardrobes. How about some funky socks for the gents and some statement footwear for the ladies? I think Beto could rock some Van Halen socks, Elton John socks for Mayor Pete, cow socks for Bernie, Obama socks for Joe. I don’t know about Corey?? As for the ladies, I bet Kamala could rock some high-heeled mules, clogs for Elizabeth, penny loafers for Amy, and ballet flats for Kirsten. I wish I could assign someone Rothy’s sneakers, but I’ll save those for Stacey should she decide to enter the fray. Just no kitten heels, please.
– I, and probably many like me, suffer from Orange-fatigue. Let’s make 2020 about NOT Orange. How about we just ignore him completely and thereby deprive him of the attention that he so craves? Rather than focus on all the horrible things Orange and his people have done, how about telling us what you do to fix the mess he’s made.
– As a woman of color, I would love to have a female or POC presidential nominee, but I have been known to support a blonde white lady, so they need to up their game and do more to distinguish themselves from one another. Otherwise, Kamala stands out more.
– Upstate New York does not mean Manhattan, but does it still mean “coastal elite”?
– And BTW, can we just take back the whole “coastal elite” thing? I am a smart, Ivy League educated woman of color working to strengthen our communities AND I happen to leave on a coast; if “coastal elite” = NOT Orange, then I’ll gladly embrace it!
– To impeach or not impeach, that will be a question. Not quite sure where I fall on this, but it is guaranteed to come up.
– Al Franken is going to be a skeleton in the Senator’s closet that needs addressing.
Thank goodness it’s only 2019.