Liz and Rachel

Liz Cheney’s book, “Oath and Honor“, is out today, and my wife wanted a copy so it’s in the house.  We watched the interview with Rachel Maddow last night.  Liz self-identifies as a “conservative”, Rachel as a “liberal”, both on the left and right flanks of the population, but neither at the ideological extremes.

Rather than review the book, or the positions, which by now are well known to anyone wishing to learn what the “sides” feel, I’d like to briefly comment on what I was seeing and feeling at the time of the interview last night.

I start from what I think is a generally acknowledged public perspective.  Both are women, well known and respected. and thus subject to public attention and also to attack from opponents who consider them to be powerful

Liz Cheney, born 1966, is a lawyer, was a three-term Republican Congresswoman in leadership in the House of Representative, daughter of Dick Cheney, former vice-president of the United States.

Rachel Maddow, born 1973, is a graduate of Stanford, and has a PhD from Oxford, and over 20 year career in broadcasting.

The wiki links give a good description of both accomplished women.  They would self-describe as ideological opponents, at the same time, last night, they met as equals, and I was impressed.

What also strikes me is that both are powerful women actors in what were, in the older days, places where men dominated, and in many ways still dominate, though considerably more nervously.

I have noted for years the steady rise in conventional power of women, persons of color, and more recently youth.

When I graduated from college in 1961, I had not long before turned 21, the then-legal age to vote.  So I could not vote.  Then, 18 was selective service “Draft” age; 16 was the age for getting a drivers license, and possibly other threshold ages for various things.

Race of course, has been at minimum a source of quiet tension.

In organizations where both men and women were engaged, men were the designated leaders – it was not fought about, it was understood – an assumption.  On a number of occasions, on a personal level, I’ve had occasion to make lists of leaders, and the farther back one goes, the less likely one finds women as, for example, Presidents of even small organizations.

It’s hardly a mystery why women’s suffrage didn’t happen until almost 60 years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

Today, the ceilings remain, and there is tension as youth, people of color and women push at the boundaries.  It is probably natural that people of my gender, race and age tend to push back.

But the change is happening and I for one am happy that it is.

POSTNOTE:  Thinking more about the above, we tend to be imprisoned by implanted attitudes that we learn as we grow up.  In the simplest view, there are the generalizations which cause us problems: women view the world differently than men and would do a better job of governing; young people don’t know as much as elders, and without supervision will screw things up; people of color, poor people, immigrants who look different, don’t speak our language, etc., are not as good as we are.   On and on.

In our culture, people who look like me are the ones who got their start “on third base”: being a white male has had its advantages.  As barriers continue to fall, restrictions of opportunities for others decrease, in all of the ways we notice.  That is very threatening to people who look like me.  In general, I think one the very long term, we will find that people are people regardless of all of the artificial barriers.

One of the insights from the Liz and Rachel conversation is a brilliant statement of the obvious.  Imprisoned within their bubbles, liberal and conservative, it was difficult, perhaps, to understand that they really are quite decent people, and maybe even can like each other as a person.  This is one thing we seem to have lost in our polarized political conversation.  Any cracks in the wall of division are welcome, in my opinion.



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