Last night I ventured out into the rolling hills of Albemarle County to attend a cocktail/get-together/girl-fest at an old friend’s farm. It was billed as a “Squeeze,” to reference a term associated with Dolley Madison.
With an astute sense of purpose and considerable charm, Dolley Madison navigated the waters of Washington society in an unprecedented way. She brought together disparate groups of politicians, diplomats, and local residents in a social setting. Weekly parties, called “Wednesday drawing rooms,” or “Mrs. Madison’s crush or squeeze,” provided a relaxed atmosphere for politicking and mingling. With no invitation required, these parties sometimes attracted four hundred guests. Some individuals who rarely associated with one another found themselves together at the White House. Even a boycott by President Madison’s opposition party, the Federalists, fizzled when members realized there was no political advantage to staying away. http://www.whitehousehistory.org/teacher-resources/saving-history-dolley-madison-the-white-house-and-the-war-of-1812
I met a past Mayor of Charlottesville, an art and fashion historian, and the woman who ran the county’s social service network for thirty years. I talked with a lovely young woman who coordinates Planned Parenthood’s educational initiatives. It was an incredible evening jam-packed with energy, enthusiasm and best of all, fun.
Since I knew I was among “my People,” I asked almost everyone one important question – Hillary or Bernie? And I must say that Bernie was winning in my anecdotal poll. His approach to politics hasn’t changed; he’s deliberate and determined, much more progressive than Hillary. And they all liked his wife, who kind of reminds me of Dolley.
So while Planned Parenthood put their considerable support behind Hillary, and the President was in NOVA schooling the nation about guns at a Town Hall meeting, Trump was vowing to get rid of gun-free school zones. I was dumbstruck!
At least this will be an election year where the stakes are very clear. Would you like the NRA to continue influencing public policy? How about writing bills according to one’s religion? Or would you rather elect someone with integrity, someone who won’t mock disabled people. Someone who actually believes in science?
I’ve been thinking about Dolley this morning. She was thrown out of her Quaker religion for marrying outside her faith and never looked back. She and President Madison retired right up the road apace at Montpelier. Her reputation was secured in 1812, when was brave enough to stay at the White House while the British advanced, saving many of the nation’s art treasures, including that famous portrait of Washington. But it was that indescribable something that set her apart, her “joie de vivre.” Her …”social skills, charm and personal popularity to win over her husband’s political opponents and help advance his career.”
Dr Jim always says it’s personality that can cog up the works in any business. But it’s also personality that can help a system as big as the federal government run smoothly. Above all else, we need another Dolley (or the male equivalent) to get our legislators talking and in the same room, if not on the same page. A civil discourse, is it too much to expect?