Lynn Heuss is a long-time Fallon staff member and good friend who attended last night's Democratic Women's event with Elizabeth Edwards and authored this post.
Like Kyle, I’m not usually one to support or attend the ‘typical’ Party events. That’s because they’re not for ‘typical’ Iowans. Between the venues they are held in and the pricetag to attend – they’re not accessible to most people. One of the first things I saw when I walked in the door was two huge posterboards with the names of big donors. They also typically lack diversity. Last night’s event was another example.
However, there were a few men in attendance. Actually one of them was the first to speak, which I found odd. I’m all for gender parity, but if you’re going to call it a women’s event, doesn’t it make sense to have women giving leadership?
And, if women are going to take the lead, I would like to encourage them to do so in non-stereotypical ways. Politics should be a discourse between different groups in the hope of making decisions that will be of benefit to the greatest number of people. Is it really necessary to make statements like, “Talk to your girlfriends about politics, because we all know that womens what runs the place.”?
However, all the other speakers were articulate, passionate, energetic women. Denise O’Brien only spoke briefly, but she’s the real deal. She does indeed talk about creative, innovative solutions to some of the problems facing farmers and small-town Iowans.
Mari Culver comes across as a confident, articulate woman with a great sense of humor. It was hotter than blazes and the first thing she said when she went to the podium was, “This proves that you’ll see more than one Culver sweat!” But she went on to present a nice introduction for Elizabeth Edwards.
Elizabeth Edwards is the reason I came to the event. I like what John Edwards is saying and doing. Before I got involved in politics, I worked with the homeless, low-income and working poor in Des Moines. The reason I re-engaged with politics (kicking and screaming at first) was because I eventually realized that without changing the current system, simply trying to meet people’s daily needs for food, clothing and shelter would never allow them to help themselves. And actually, it’s not the system that needs changed as much as changing those who make up the system. So far, Senator Edwards is the only one talking about and giving priority to addressing issues of concern to what is becoming the majority population in America – the poor.
However, after working on the Fallon campaign and clerking for Rep. Fallon in the last legislative session, I still find myself with enough cynicism resident inside that it takes more than a couple good speeches to convince me support someone. I thought that listening to Mrs. Edwards would give me additional information and I did walk away with more to think about.
I like her. And she only made me frustrated once, so let’s get that out of the way.
Near the beginning of her speech, as part of her thanks to Dr. Andy McGuire for hosting the event, she also thanked her and Mike Blouin for standing behind Secretary Culver after his win. She made reference to the way they handled themselves on election night and expressed effusive thanks for their continuing support of Secretary Culver. Wait a minute! You’ll find no disagreement from me on Mr. Blouin’s gracious concession speech on election night, nor on his public statements in support of Chet at the unity event and State Convention. But those are the only times and places I’ve experienced their support. I’ve seen no action to back up the words.
On the other hand, Rep. Fallon, who I have already admitted to working with, not only also expressed support on election night, at the unity event and at State Convention, but he’s getting involved by doing more than giving a couple of speeches. He has agreed to work with the Culver campaign as a consultant. They recognize the need to address the issues that 38,000 Iowans found important and they asked Rep. Fallon to share his expertise and knowledge with Secretary Culver. Yet there was no mention of this support by Mrs. Edwards. Perhaps it was an honest mistake, but I do think it needs to be corrected.
Back to the good stuff, as promised. She comes across as someone who does not take herself too seriously but who does take certain issues very seriously. She’s not pretentious, but she is very intelligent. She addressed several of the important issues facing our country: healthcare, economic development, stem cell research, the war in Iraq, alternative energy AND conservation (she scored big with me on the conservation part!), and restoring integrity to government.
She did not go on (what is sadly becoming) the typical rant of negative accusations about the “other side.” She did speak to the notion of personal responsibility, i.e. Bush and Nussle needing to do this as it relates to the budget deficit. And then she did something that increased my respect for her and for her husband – she said that he was taking responsibility for his decision on the war in Iraq. Wow – a politician admitting he made a mistake! Believe it or not – that increases my confidence in him. He knows he’s not infallible and might actually be willing to work well with others.
Finally, she concluded her speech by admonishing us to not be people of the polls. She said she had recently read something about “psychographic targeting” and while she could accept that it probably had some value, she wasn’t sure what it even was. Although I agree with her completely about all the political jargon, this was not the first time I had heard that term. Our media consultant had provided us with three pages of information on the psychographic issues we needed to be aware of during the campaign! However, I believe her point was that we can over-analyze things to death, and it’s more important to return to our own internal moral compasses to make decisions on policy and public officials. If we listen with an ear for authenticity and if we make choices based on principles, we may actually end up with a government of the people.
I would have liked to meet her, but she only had a few minutes to visit with people before leaving to catch her plane. She said both she and Sen. Edwards will be in Iowa a lot, so maybe there will be opportunity in the future.