Thursday, January 31, 2013

Stuck in the Middle with You

Last week I went out to dinner with two friends from seemingly opposite sides of the political spectrum.  Around the table: a straight, Republican, home-based mother of two, a lesbian, Progressive Democrat, working mother of two – and middle-ol’ me.  (And yes, this is beginning to sound like one of those jokes that puts the governor on a crashing plane with a priest and a rabbi -- two of them have parachutes and one jumps out strapped into a Hello Kitty backpack.)

We’ve been planning this dinner since last fall when I said to both of them, “I swear, you will really like each other” and they trusted me enough to reach out and in turn, to be receptive.  Dinner was fun.  We told stories, swapped confidences and rolled our eyes talking about our spouses.  Finally it came up, “what can we do together to make Rhode Island better?”

We didn’t come up with a plan for world peace or even an outline to fix what ails our beloved little state, but we did find that despite our different spots on the political spectrum, we have a lot of common ground:
  • We care passionately about quality education – and not just for our own kids, but for those in failing schools.
  • We care about the lack of opportunity and the high cost of living.
  • We believe all families deserve to be treated equally under the law.

What we also had around the table – and what so often gets lost in political discussions these days – is respect for each other.  As President Reagan said, “we can disagree without being disagreeable.”

What makes politics exciting – and leadership challenging – is that we all come to the table with different life experiences, different advantages and different viewpoints.  And then we hash it out.  By locking yourself – or someone else – into a mold with a party label and a platform to which you must commit (or be accused of not being a “real” insert name of party here) is taking everything out of politics that makes it interesting and fun. 

So I jump with a Hello Kitty backpack: I've got no party to fall back on — and no party agenda to follow.  But with friends on both sides, a shared desire to move things forward and a commitment to coming back to the table to hash things out, I couldn't be happier to be stuck in the middle. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Since I became a mother, I have made a conscious effort to be a nicer person – to be a little less snarky and a little more forgiving.  It’s been almost 11 years and I think I’ve made some progress.  However, I cannot seem to be nice about one person.

I do not like Alex Rodriguez.  Every time he experiences a little bit of misfortune, it makes me a little bit happy.  For the record, my schadenfreude only applies to him – I was truly sorry to see Mo Rivera injured last year and recognize that no one plays shortstop like Derek Jeter.  All of my anti-Yankee sentiment is reserved for A-Rod.

There’s so much to dislike about A-Fraud on and off the field that the laundry list is kind of a bore.  Suffice it to say that he’s a cheater (steroids), a dirty player (e.g. the ’04 ball slap) he doesn’t play by the same code of fair play that other MLB players do (“mine, mine!”) and, he's clearly a narcissist.  

Of course I realize that I have access to a very small sliver of his life and that he could be the most clutch postseason hitter of all timea wonderful husbanda beloved teammate and a good father.  

This is all to say that the latest news – that he could be out for all of 2013 following hip surgery – provided me with another opportunity to smile at this turn of bad luck.  Hearing “hip labrum” also reminded me that one of the most galling things that he ever did was to try to overshadow the Red Sox 2007 World Series win with a late inning announcement about his going into free agency.  That night belonged to the Red Sox and my favorite, Mike Lowell.  Lowell not only was the “Gallant” to A-Rod’s “Goofus” but retired due to his own hip ailment.

So as the Yankees face a season without A-Rod, all I can say is “heh heh.”  And oh yeah – thanks Tek.  


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Party Like It's 1999

I am far too cold for a long post about why issue-based advocacy is the best way to heal our damaged political system.    

Instead, I hope you'll get a chuckle out of this:

And I hope that you're as excited as I am about seeing more of this:

It seems like the ownership has gone from wanting "sexy guys" on the team to hiring what looked good in '99.  I don't care, I'll take it.  Anything to get away from 2012.

Welcome home Pedro!


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The View From This Seat

There are few things I enjoy more than baseball on a summer afternoon, making the pleasant hum of a Red Sox game my favorite summer soundtrack.  Late in the game, with a close score and runners on base, I love hearing the crack of a bat and knowing one of the good guys drilled "a line shot up the middle!"  That familiar phrase inevitably makes me stop what I'm doing and shush my family for silence.  The action is all around -  infielders diving left and right; the center fielder hurling the ball home;  runners bolting flat out for the plate with a brave catcher bracing for contact.  It's the best shot in baseball since it creates opportunity and so many players have a role in making something happen.  

In politics, the game-changing action is also straight up the middle. Compromise and coalition building occur in the middle of the spectrum, not on the sides -- and certainly not in the echo chambers that are the political parties themselves.  

I've worked in public affairs for more than twenty years for corporations, non-profits, associations, coalitions and candidates on both sides of the aisle.  I am a garden-variety Rhode Islander: an unaffiliated voter, a serial ticket-splitter and an enthusiastic Red Sox fan.

I have never thought much about my political identity until recently when my name appeared on Campaigns & Elections magazine's list of Rhode Islands top Republican  "influencers."  A tiny part of me was pleased that I made a "top" list while every other part of me is chilled by the idea that someone could assign a label to me that I had not chosen for myself.  And to be clear -- I would have had the same reaction to being labeled a Democrat.  Neither party has an ideological appeal to me and I find the extremism on both sides to be too confrontational and too divisive to be productive.

I see "Straight Up the Middle," as my own little ball field to talk about politics.  I hope that folks will stop by to take a look and chime in.  I'm sure that I'll whiff a few, but I'll try to keep it up the middle.