Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Next President of the United States speaks at Millersville University

"She is a woman who understands our children need the best education, who understands senior citizens need Social Security, who understands every American should be entitled to healthcare. Here she is, the next President of the United States, Hillary Clinton." This was Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell's introduction last night at Millersville University in Lancaster County where Hillary spoke to over 3,000 college students and local residents. Hillary came out with a big smile on her face and sporting a dark red suit jacket and tailored black pants, shaking hands with audience members. She thanked everyone for coming out and acknowledged the College's basketball team was competing in the NCAA tournament at the same time, which drew cheers from the crowd. She started her speech by stating "this is one of the most important elections because it will determine the direction of this country for the rest of the 21st century." The overall theme of the issues she addressed was "We need a President that's more concerned about Main Street than Wall Street." This statement appealed highly to the audience, the majority of which is middle and working class. She vowed that as President, she would give back to the communities and create new jobs. She would implement a plan to start bringing troops home within sixty days, as they have already done what they were asked to do: bring down Saddam Hussein. She would establish a healthcare tax credit, as it is morally unethical and financially unwise for 47 million Americans to live without health insurance. She would invest more money in our education programs and end No Child Left Behind because "children should not be turned into little test takers." She won the college students when she said she would make college more affordable by increasing the tax credit and eliminate the high interest rates of student loan companies. She stated she would also provide more job training and apprenticeship programs to young people that don't go to college. She concluded her speech, for which she got a standing ovation, by stating "we need to restore moral authority and leadership universally and we have a lot to do back home to accomplish this. We have got to put us first. We got to take control of our destiny."

So what did Hillary’s speech mean to me? First of all, let me establish I grew up in conservative home and am a registered Republican. However, I switched party affiliations to Democratic just so I can vote for Hillary in this election. That says a lot. If Hillary is elected, she would make history; she would be the first woman and the first First lady to become President. However, that is not important; I just find it cool. It is what she said at Millersville University that mattered. I agree with her that this is an important election that will determine the direction the country will take for the rest of the century. I agree that every American needs health insurance and that college needs to be more affordable, I worry about when I graduate in May about being able to afford health insurance and if Hillary is President, I know I can be covered at a reasonable rate. Although I do not have any college debt (I’m there in scholarship so I consider myself lucky), all of my friends are. Six months after they graduate in May, their student loan companies will hit them up for their money back. They will struggle to pay it back and it may even take years for them to become debt free. No one should have to deal with this. Finally, I agree that while it was necessary to send troops to Iraq, they did all they were asked to do: bring down Saddam Hussein. They did their job; its time to not drag out this war any longer, and bring our troops home! Go Hillary!!!

Dee Dee Myers

So, I just saw Dee Dee Myers speak at Politics & Prose bookstore. For those of you who don't pay attention to politics (and I used to be one of you), Dee Dee Myers was President Clinton's Press Secretary at the beginning of his administration. She was the first woman to hold the post of Press Secretary of the White House. She was only 31. When she left that position she went on to collaborate with Aaron Sorkin as an adviser on The West Wing; she also worked with Vanity Fair; she contributed to political television shows as host and pundit; and she became a mother, writer and general all-around awesome example to women everywhere, but especially in politics.She was at Politics & Prose for a stop on her first book tour, stumping for her first book, Why Women Should Rule the World and she spoke for a half hour about the women and sociology and politics. It would be challenging to summarize her message mostly because I think it is one that many women can understand on some level, so I'm not going to just outline her main points. I felt that her thesis for her book which she described as an examination of women and what could be possible and challenging if women ruled the world. I realize that sounds a little brief and a little vague but it was a complex outline that I think requires I actually read the book before I try to lay down the main points coherently. (And it's a new book so I don't feel guilty about not reading it before I actually went to the talk.)Ms. Myers took questions at the end and I got to ask her if she had any advice or words of wisdom for young women entering the political arena now. She talked about the importance of mentorship and claiming our accomplishments which I think are both such important aspects of success inside and outside of politics. She talked about how many women she knew would talk about amazing mentors they had or that they didn't have a mentor and how important it is to remember to step up and say, especially to other women, "I'm really interested in this issue/policy/idea. Do you have any advice? Can you help me?" It's a question that I often find myself asking and one I get one of two reactions to. On the one hand, I meet people everyday who are incredibly helpful and often thrilled that I'm excited about something they are excited about and want to learn from them. On the other hand, I am told to "fake it 'til you make it" and to not ask that question because people will know that I don't know. It's particularly interesting to me because I get these answers from both men and women. In fact, I get the second answer more from women than from men but feel I get the first answer frequently from both. Did I mention that I ask a lot of questions - and I mean a lot? Because I do. I love to ask questions.I was inspired by her advice to own our successes. She talked about how there are often projects we complete and competitions we win that we quietly say thank you and go home to shelve our award. Women need to stand up and say, "Thank you! I really worked hard but I knew it was worth it and I knew I could do it." We need to remember to say that to other women and to praise the efforts of our friends and co-workers. Both are actions I know that I do not take often enough and wish I did more.So I walked away from this talk with renewed inspiration in the idea of politics and the power of women. And a really cool inscription in my freshly purchased copy of Why Women Should Rule the World.

Written by Rachael Berkley