I just got off of a phone call with Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards. If you weren't aware, I blog over at DC Metro Moms as well as here, and we had requested a meeting with her and the Silicon Valley Moms Bloggers as she is in California right now. Bloggers from Chicago and DC joined in by phone. Mrs. Edwards graciously gave some of her time to meet with us, and while I won't go into total detail here, you can see the Liveblog of the meeting on the Silicon Valley Moms Blog.
I am however, going to take a minute to make a few comments on the messages and the delivery of the message, which is something that you might not get from the Liveblog mentioned above.
A few key things popped out at me. The first is the immediacy of the internet. I have heard over the years so much about controlling the news cycle - timing press releases just right so that they hit the TV and print media at a time so that they have the greatest impact. Well, the internet changed all of that. I am sure that folks in the media or in any lines of work that involve the media know how important it is, but those of us who are outsiders are not as plugged into that dynamic. I had never really thought about how much life has changed with the advent of the internet (along with cell phones) until a few days ago. Mrs. Edwards mentioned that there was an immediacy to blogs, and man is she right. Once it goes up, it is out there for everyone to see. There's no taking something back once it is out in the Blogosphere. She was referring specifically to her response time to a post by one of the Chicago Moms Blogger, and that she happened to pick up the post about her almost immediately due to the fact that she was online shortly after it was posted. She mentioned that this is not always the case, but it does make you realize that the words that we put out there are out there for real. No longer does someone have a meeting, then a reporter writes a story, gets his editor to peruse it, and it gets published. I'm not sure of the path to print, but the bloggers basically get information up almost immediately. Our live blog of the meeting with Mrs. Edwards is one example of this. This demands a new level of responsibility, not only from the media, but from any person posting information online.
The next thing that struck me was the idea of public health clinics in Elementary Schools. Not sure how this would work exactly, but the idea is a good one. If you can't get people to the clinics, bring the clinics to the people. Again, don't know if this is a new idea, if someone has tried this already, or if it would even work, but it was novel to me and I think it is worth pursuing.
When asked how our lives will change if her husband gets elected, Mrs. Edwards touched on a lot of areas where Sen. Edwards hopes to affect change. The metaphor that struck me was the idea that the government cannot climb the ladder for you (or for that matter push you up the ladder), but it can make sure that the ladder is there for you to climb. She referred to this idea in several instances - and I like the image that it evokes. Too often we talk about individual responsibility, but for some that is a tough concept to grasp. This is a very good way to talk to people about their role in many issues. I applaud her for using such a great metaphor.
She also spoke about re-establishing our "moral authority." She said that we need to change the way people think about us, and man, once again, she is right. She had a few suggestions as to how to go about doing this, but the idea itself is a good one, and we all need to take steps to make a difference. In the end she wrapped up by saying that we won't get the change we want unless we work for it. In this case, she was referring to electing a new president, but it also applies to changing the way others think about the US. In order to avoid the status quo, we need to go out and DO something about it, sage advice for any goal in your life, honestly.
All in all it was a very nice meeting with Mrs. Edwards. Not sure if I'm jaded or if I'm not quite tuned into the reality of the election yet (that's probably the case here), but I was non-plussed overall by what she had to say. I respect her immensely for supporting her husband in the midst of her personal health crisis (she did mention that there's been some research that shows that there really is some validity to "chemo brain") and really appreciate her taking the time to visit with us. A lot of the info I've heard before, and it often sounded like she was pulling out catch phrases and speaking in sound bites. I can't imagine how difficult it is to come up with new language though, city after city, meeting after meeting. So maybe this is what an election has come down to - truly capable people reduced to showing up and plugging in sound bites. I understand the boundaries that Mrs. Edwards must stay within, and I appreciate that it is often safest to resort to the campaign script.
Thank you Mrs. Edwards for taking time to come talk to us - even this slightly jaded blogger recognizes the sacrifice you made to be here with us.