US Rep.Won’t Play to Party
Published: Friday, September 23, 2011
Updated: Friday, September 23, 2011 02:09
Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) reflected on her experiences as an openly gay politician and the difficulties of working in a Congress split down party lines Wednesday night.
"This year, I have never been so depressed to be in the minority," Baldwin said at the event in White-Gravenor Hall organized by the Georgetown University College Democrats and GU Pride.
In describing the challenges of a partisan Congress, she spoke about working among colleagues who she believes do not value their constituents over political games.
"I'm not saying cutting our debt isn't important, but there's not one member of congress who doesn't have constituents struggling at home," she said.
In her current campaign for the U.S. Senate, Baldwin aims to highlight the importance of bipartisanship and allegiance to her voters in Wisconsin, not just to the politics of Washington.
"I have to remain optimistic that our democracy can operate for us. That's why I'm running for Senate — we have to wrest control back," she said. "You don't seek office if you don't think democracy can work."
In past campaigns, according to Baldwin, she has had her critics, but she has overcome those issues to win each race. As the November election looms closer, she is again facing many who doubt her ability to win an entire state of voters who seem to be engaged in aggressive political competition.
"Who are these talking heads telling us we can't win?" Baldwin asked. "Last time I checked, we go to the ballot box."
Baldwin also stressed that her sexuality in no way discredits her commitment to her political values and desire to reach across the aisle. She was the first openly gay candidate to be elected to Congress in 1998.
"It is personally offensive when somebody talks about [the LGBTQ community] as though they are ‘less than,'" she said. "But when you do a job like this, you also have to relate to these people on a regular basis. You can't call the boss and say ‘this person needs counseling.'"
When faced with obstacles like these, Baldwin said she takes every opportunity to impart a lesson to her challengers.
"You find an educable moment, and you seize it," Baldwin said. "It's important to use private moments when the C-SPAN cameras aren't rolling."