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Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

I stood up clapping and yelling in my empty office after Kamala Harris spoke to an empty auditorium in Delaware on Wednesday. It was her first time appearing with Joe Biden as his running mate, and I was on pins and needles waiting for them. When she said the case against Mr T was “…open and shut,” I swooned. When she called our Toddler-in-Chief a whiner, I Tweeted; then I followed her husband – possibly the first ever Second Gentleman – on every social media platform!

When Kamala said, “I’ve had a lot of titles over my career and certainly vice president will be great, but ‘Momala’ will always be the one that means the most,” I got it.  I’m pretty sure only Italians and Jewish people use Momala as a token of endearment. She married Doug Emhoff, an entertainment lawyer, in 2014 and her two step-children started calling her Momala. Great Grandma Ada, who btw I’ve called Momala for years, called me up to tell me Emhoff was from Brooklyn; and then I read that Kamala broke a glass at their wedding to honor his tradition.

Wait, I misspoke. I wasn’t entirely alone watching Kamala on CNN. Ms Bean had been napping peacefully on her bed, only slightly medicated because of those pesky afternoon  thunderstorms, when my cheering started. I guess I must have been jumping around too much because she joined in with ferocity, barking and climbing up on me. She hasn’t seen me that excited in almost six months, or maybe even four years.

The Flapper was a realist when it came to politicians. Except for the great FDR, I remember her saying, “They’re all crooks.” But my foster parents were dyed-in-the-wool Democrats. I remember them getting dressed up to vote at night after Daddy Jim came home from work. And try as I might, they’d never say who they voted for, although it was pretty clear to me that they voted a straight line Democratic ticket.

After all, the Democrats were for the “working man,” the great “middle class.” I was also told the Irish vote blue, so there ya go. And once Kennedy, the first Irish Catholic president was elected and later assassinated when I was just 15 years old, my tribal loyalties were sealed in stone. McGovern was my first presidential vote, and I’m still proud of it to this day.

Many Dems I know felt discouraged after voting for Hillary in 2016 and watching the electoral college – a holdover from the southern slave states – trample our desire for a woman president. Discouraged and depressed. But this time there is something in the air. Systemic racism has crawled out of the shadows, and sitting on a fence for this election is simply unacceptable. Thanks to this administration, the American people will be asked to make a choice:

Continue running our government into the ground, chipping away at affordable healthcare during a global pandemic, and ignoring the economic plight of our people? Should we vote for a man who has single-handedly destroyed our trust in institutions like the Post Office and makes a mockery of the Justice Department? Or shall we vote for a return to truth and dignity with a Biden/Harris ticket?

She broke a piece of crystal under her heel at her wedding, and she will be the one to shatter the glass ceiling. Painting of Wonder Woman by Ashley Longshore.

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This morning the sun is out and the temperature should be going above freezing. Underneath our coating of snow, crocus are beginning to awaken and cardinals are singing. For the first time, in a long year, I’m feeling hopeful.

Last night Bob and I attended the first in a series of USN Evening Classes. All the proceeds from ticket sales help to sponsor their need-based scholarships. First night always features a celebrity lecture, and this year did not disappoint with a third grader’s dad on the ticket. I’ve heard Jon Meacham speak before at Monticello, so I was looking forward to his insight on the state of this so-called presidency.

“We’re still here!” Meacham exclaimed, to the room of muffled laughs.

This Pulitzer Prize winner and presidential biographer went on, without notes mind you,  to remind us of his love for Andrew Jackson, “I like genocidal maniacs with a heart of gold.” More tentative laughter… Meacham dismisses Mr T’s comparison to Jackson, a fabrication of Bannon’s doing, telling us he is a simple “real estate impresario.” However, we must not dismiss his followers.

In May of 2016 he interviewed candidate Trump in his tower. Meacham arrived early and was standing alone in the huge gilded lobby on Fifth Avenue, when a family of four came through the door. They were tourists, all-middle-American folks. The young boy looked up at his dad and said, “Do you think he comes through this same door?” That beatific look of wonder, as if they were visiting a holy place, was the reason he was elected.

Mr T, like a carnival barker, managed to sell his “MAGA” movement to the forgotten middle class of the rust belt. For a family of four to live a normal middle class life in our country, they must earn at least $130,000 a year. Meacham told us that would allow them the minimum benefits of owning a home and a car and taking one vacation a year. However, the median middle class income for that same family today is around $55,000 – and the reason Mr T won lies in the difference.

Trump offered his followers the American Dream, the “Right to Rise,” as Lincoln said. Only his nationalism is a leftover from our post-WWII prosperity, with women in the kitchen and people of color knowing their “place,” and his tactics are closing our country’s borders figuratively and literally. That last part is my opinion, and part of the reason I’m marching with women on Saturday. Again.

The rest of Meacham’s speech was filled with enlightening, little-known anecdotes to illustrate his Four Characteristics of a Successful President:

  1. Curiosity – Jefferson’s insatiable intelligence
  2. Humility – JFK reaching out to Eisenhower during the Cuban missile crisis
  3. Candor – Churchill reported all the facts, he was a straight shooter
  4. Empathy – Poppy Bush, Gorbachev and the Berlin Wall

Meacham ended by reading a poignant letter that George HW Bush had sent to his mother about the loss of his three year old daughter, Robin, to leukemia. “If you want to know someone’s heart, you have to break it.”

I walked away last night wanting to read “Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush.”  My step, on the icy parking lot last night, wasn’t hesitant; it was as light as a feather, and my heart was full. The voter registration forms I left in our local coffee shop are almost gone.

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