The Pageantry of Politics

This is adapted from a Facebook post I wrote last week.

Monday night Emma Gray sent me a link to her great Huffington Post article about how Clinton’s loss has motivated a new generation of women to consider running for office.

I then proceeded not to share it. Why? Because I felt so much chagrin that Gray chose to write about *me* to start it off. I felt undeserving, mainly because I hadn’t done anything to earn such attention. As most people who know me know, I am a do-er; talk is cheap, it’s action and accomplishment that count. “Write about me when I DO something,” I thought.

When one friend emailed me about it, that’s what I said. When another sent me the link, that’s what I texted her back. And then more people started to share on Facebook and comment and again I felt embarrassed, but also touched.

Last Tuesday night another group of women, in person, who are on the Temple Torat Yisrael Board of Trustees with me (more female leadership in action!) talked me down a bit. But I decided I still needed to process before sharing.

And then on Wednesday morning I was quoted in The New York Times about the links between politics and pageantry, especially when it comes to the way the cabinet is being formed. I spoke to the impressive Susan Chira last week, though I thought the article would come out later.

Now this, THIS, I wanted to share it right away. The NYT! My research (the book I am working and working and working on)! This shows the consequential sides of pageantry I have been trying to illuminate and disentangle! Illustrates the seriousness with which I always say we OUGHT to treat popular culture! This is a type of action I understand and can be proud of (though still need to finish writing that book, but that’s another story).

So I can share the research, I can share the pics of my kids, but it’s hard to share myself. Oh, yes, right, this is why more women don’t run for office, huh?

Today after balancing work obligations and sick kids I arrived at the Rhode Island State House to watch the Electoral College vote. Yes, I cried (and, yes I worried I might smell like sick child). And I was reminded again of the pageantry of politics: the ritual, the costumes, the traditions, the songs, the pomp. And also the competition, the voting, the winner-take-all system.

Politics seems weightier to many, but often the two mix. Monday’s vote comes on the heels of the Miss World Pageant over the weekend, where Miss Puerto Rico won (on American soil). Many in the US aren’t very familiar with Miss World (admittedly, myself including, and this Washington Post article does a good job explaining why), but Miss World had its own political issue with Miss Canada speaking out against the Chinese government. Read The New York Times and The Boston Globe for more on this situation, which shows the platform pageants provide contestants/winners can matter in the political arena.

Stay tuned for more personal and professional mingling of pageantry and politics in the future…

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