Citizen Jane Tells Us How to Clean Up

Last night’s presidential debate on CNN was some of the best theater I’ve seen (watch clips). It had everything–a room packed with celebrities there to see our hottest political performers, snappy scripts well delivered, a spectacle much like top flight tennis players volleying at the height of their game, lights-camera-action.

Finally! Wolf Blitzer opened with the question that I’ve been giving the answer to since the campaign begain when he observed that  Obama and Clinton look like the American dream team. It wouldn’t have been too seemly to ask who’d be on top, but the implication was obvious. They both gave the only answers they could, which was to say how much they respected one another and “here’s why I should be president”.

Obama is better with facile phrasemaking and people love that; nevertheless, Clinton  got the best line–and biggest laugh–of the evening when asked whether the Bush-Clinton sequence should continue, she said “It might take a Clinton to clean up after a Bush again.”

Talk about finding her voice! That was the kind of remark only a mother and a woman who’s had to clean up after all kinds of messes personal and political could have uttered so convincingly. Clinton’s candidacy has changed everything for women in political life; no matter where they stand on the party spectrum, women are becoming more engaged in politics as a result.

Which brings me to the “So what” for today: an example of a woman who thought women should be more engaged in politics and decided to speak up about it.

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What’s more, I ran across her dandy website called Citizen Jane Politics while reading a newsletter from EmergeCalifornia, which is an amazing organization dedicated to recruiting and advancing pro-choice Democratic women for political office all up and down the ticket in their state, and now has sister affiliates burgeoning around the country.

Patricia Murphy, Citizen Jane’s 36-year-old founder and former communications director for Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., launched the site in November to add a new voice to online political reporting. She’s not pushing any candidate or party – just involvement.

“I wanted to see something not only fun and engaging, but aimed at women,” she said. “I didn’t see it, so I started it,” she told Media General News Service in an article called “Women Seeking Women–for Politics”.

Hillary didn’t grow up thinking she might be president. In her young adulthood, she was a pretty ordinary Citizen Jane, doing comunity service work but with an active interest in politics that has obviously grown over time until finally she began to see herself as a presidential candidate.

My fondest hope is to see exponentially more Citizen Janes getting involved, speaking up, running, and winning in the years to come. Now that would be the most dramatic event of all in American politics.

1 Comment

  1. Regina on February 2, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    It’s annoying to hear the pundits say that only Obama is able to inspire a “new generation” to get involved in politics. It’s an insult to me and my baby boomer friends. Hey, we’re a generation, too! And we’re just as inspired by Hillary and we’ve got just as much energy and concern about the world as people half our age. I hope Hillary finds a way to counter this lame assertion from Obama supporters.

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