This election year reminds me of something a friend of mine told me a few years ago. When she went to see a new play with some friends, no one in her party knew much about it so she wrote down her prediction as to what the play would be about, and hid it away for revealing afterward. After the play she showed them her prediction: “Everyone hates women, including women.” She was right, of course.
I wish that she could be wrong, at least once. Here’s my prediction, three months before election day. I’m publishing it here so you can remind yourselves of my wisdom (or stupidity!) months and years later. Here goes: Continue reading
Or, After Action Review for Parks as Portals to Learning–just a little taste of the ways in which military culture informs the history and present operations of the National Park Service.
My week up in Rocky, or ROMO (=ROcky MOuntain), another acronym used by Parkies, was a rich learning experience. As a seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Eastern historian my expertise was fairly irrelevant, but I took the opportunity to learn about how the NPS works. Besides keeping up with all of the military- and government-style acronyms (EIS, NEPA, EA , ETC) for the laws and procedures that structure the park’s conservation work, faculty from Colorado State and UC Santa Barbara helped CSU students think through the ways that environmental history informs and can assist natural resource preservation as well as the interpretation and visitor experience of the park. Continue reading
Esther Wheelwright, c.1763 (oil on canvas), at the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston.
Modern and mostly secular folks probably wouldn’t think that religious people might teach us something about politics and leadership. But there are important lessons about leadership found in my study of a seventeenth- and eighteenth-century religious order over the course of 150 years or so. After all, Catholic women religious have been electing their leadership democratically for centuries before secular men thought elections might be a good idea for civil society.
These women ran triennial elections for their superior, her assistant, dépositaire (treasurer), scrutaine (overseer of elections), novice mistress, and other lesser offices. Some Ursulines in my book even engaged in early ratf^(king operations. It’s true!
I reveal all of the details in my soon-to-be released new book, The Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright, but just with you, dear readers, I’ll share some of the interesting parallels I found to the challenges facing North American women politicians even today. Mother Esther (1696-1780) served in most of the elected offices in the Ursuline convent before being elected superior three times in the 1760s, a time of political, religious, and economic crisis in the wake of the British conquest of Quebec in 1759. Her leadership and entrepreneurial financial management of the order through the 1760s permitted the order’s school and novitiate not only to survive in this uncertain decade, but to expand and thrive before Catholics were guaranteed the right to practice their religion by the Quebec Act of 1774.
How did she do it? Continue reading
Senator Margaret Chase Smith (R-ME) during her presidential run, 1964
I’ve fallen behind! Remember a few weeks back when I directed your attention to Nursing Clio’s important new series on women who have run for president of the United States, Run Like a Girl? There are two more entries I haven’t posted about!
If you recall, the first in the series featured (naturally!) the first woman ever to run for president, Victoria Woodhull (1838-1927), who ran in 1872. Last week, Sarah Handley-Cousins wrote about Belva Lockwood (1830-1917), a badass single mother and attorney who was one of the first women to argue before the Supreme Court. She became the National Equal Rights Party’s nominee in 1884 and again in 1888.
This week, Run like a Girl moves into the twentieth century with Laura M. Ansley’s discussion of the political career of Margaret Chase Smith (1897-1995.) A working-class girl from Skowhegan, Maine, Smith was the daughter of the town barber and a waitress from a French-Canadian family. Only a high school graduate, she is exemplary of most American women in the nineteenth and early twentieth-century who came to hold prominent public offices: she ran for her late husband’s office and won in 1940, and then went on to run for the senate in 1948 (and win), and for president in 1964 (but lost!) Continue reading
Hillary Clinton, Democratic National Convention, Philadelphia, PA, July 28, 2016
Hillary Clinton accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination for president last night. To quote Joe Biden from 2010, “this is a big f^cking deal.”
All through this campaign–and as some of you may recall, throughout the 2008 campaign season too–I’ve been disgusted by the irrational hatred that people direct towards Clinton and her supporters in the face of the facts and her obvious qualifications for the presidency, from both the left and the right. (But let’s face it: it’s 90% coming from Republicans and other conservatives, with only a token amount from fellow Democrats, liberals, or leftists, who proved themselves to be as impotent as still-anesthetized neutered kittens this week in Philadelphia.) Continue reading
Probably not, but wouldn’t it be pretty to think so?
In honor of our ongoing War on Expertise, I bring you a link to a post of mine from two years ago, which featured a This American Life story about Bob the Electrician, and his deluded belief that if he couldn’t understand the Theory of Relativity, that meant that it was bunk. Because everyone everywhere all the time should be able to understand everything, so one person’s as good as the next when it comes even to the trickiest of intellectual or policy questions. It doesn’t matter if some of us have devoted our lives to the study and mastery of some forms of knowledge, nor if we actually do this for a living. From my post on July 15, 2014:
To summarize: Bob takes a year-long self-funded sabbatical to study physics and prove that Einstein had it all wrong. [Reporter Robert Andrew] Powell tries to get real physicists to read the paper that Bob produces over the course of the year, which turns out to be quite a chore because it turns out that Bob is kind of like the old joke about asylums being full of Napoleons: there are thousands of cranks around the world who believe Einstein’s theory–and by extension all of modern physics–is wrong, and they are a plague upon real, working, university- and U.S. government-affiliated physicists in much the same way that Holocaust Deniers, Constitutional Originalists, and Lost Causers are to historians; climate change denialists are to real climate scientists; and anti-vaxxers are to real physicians. In sum, these cranks have no confidence whatsoever in expertise or in the value of the credentials that real historians, scientists, or doctors have. But yet, they crave their respect and demand to be acknowledged by the experts.
Go read and consider Michelle Goldberg’s analysis of “The Hillary Haters” at Slate. The nut:
Few people dislike Hillary Clinton for being too moralistic anymore. In trying to understand the seemingly eternal phenomenon of Hillary hatred, I’ve spoken to people all around America who revile her. I’ve interviewed Trump supporters, conventional conservatives, Bernie Sanders fans, and even a few people who reluctantly voted for Clinton in the Democratic primary but who nevertheless say they can’t stand her. Most of them described a venal cynic. Strikingly, the reasons people commonly give for hating Clinton now are almost the exact opposite of the reasons people gave for hating her in the 1990s. Back then, she was a self-righteous ideologue; now she’s a corrupt tool of the establishment. Back then, she was too rigid; now she’s too flexible. Recently, Morning Consult polled people who don’t like Clinton about the reasons for their distaste. Eighty-four percent agreed with the statement “She changes her positions when it’s politically convenient.” Eighty-two percent consider her “corrupt.” Motives for loathing Clinton have evolved. But the loathing itself has remained constant.
I wonder: what is the through line in all of this ressentiment? Continue reading