Lindsay Bubar and her fiance strolled down the sidewalk together holding hands, he in a business suit and she . . . well, I’m not going to dissect her wardrobe because press attention to women politicians’ attire is one of her pet peeves. “That’s so cute,” I’m afraid I said, “the two of you holding hands on your way to vote. What do you do?”
Lindsay, it turns out, is an extremely rare woman in a field that is almost entirely male. She is Congressman Henry Waxman’s campaign manager and the President of the West Los Angeles Chapter of the National Women’s Political Caucus.
I interviewed Lindsay this morning after she returned to Waxman’s campaign headquarters and I’ll tell you about her career, her political ambitions and, yes, her upcoming wedding, as the day goes on. Right now, I want to turn you over to Lindsay as she gives us her first dispatch on election day.
9:30 a.m., Pacific Standard Time, Los Angeles, California, Congressman Waxman’s Campaign Headquarters, Lindsay Bubar
Things are strangely quiet. Most volunteers and staff went to the polls this morning before coming in to hit the phones, and most are still standing in line waiting to vote.
That’s a good sign for us, and all Democrats throughout the state of California. If we turn out our base, we will win, and lines at the polls on the Westside of Los Angeles certainly indicate the base is out.
Most of the energy right now is coming from social media- posts from people who have voted, the passion behind their vote and reminders to their networks. It’s quite inspiring, and extends the sense of community on Election Day beyond your local polling place.
Social media has played an important part in this election, and you continue to see that today. At Waxman Headquarters, we are prepping for our day-long phone bank and answering voter calls, something we expect to continue throughout the day.Stay tuned for updates from Lindsay as well as the way Lindsay made her way into the political arena. You’ll be happy to hear that sponsorship played a significant role in her success.
Networking, Timing and Sponsorship
There’s no established Campaign Manager career path. Lindsay’s history as a fund-raiser, however, put her in contact with the people who would help her succeed in a behind-the-scenes political career while simultaneously giving her the skill set necessary to run a national political campaign.When I asked Lindsay how she got the Waxman job, she gave me three good reasons – networking in the political arena; really good timing; and, sponsorship.
Just looking at Lindsay’s networking list exhausts me, but that’s why politics largely runs on the energy of the young.
In the last three years, Lindsay has been a Project Partner in the Truman National Security Project, a member of the Running Start Advisory Board; President of the National Women’s Political Caucus, LA Westside Chapter; Board Member of the Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters; and, Political Director of the San Fernando Valley Young Democrats.
Networking within these organizations, Lindsay met the woman who would mentor and sponsor her entry into higher levels of political participation.
While working with the California League of Voters, she met and subsequently took over California State Legislator Betsy Butler’s role as President of Los Angeles West Side Chapter of that organization.
Butler didn’t just show Lindsay the ropes as any good mentor does, she put her own political skin in Lindsay’s game. Butler recommended Lindsay to serve in directorial roles in political organizations with which she was affiliated. Eventually, Butler put her own political career in Lindsay’s hands by hiring her as the manager of her own state legislative campaign.
“Betsy saw my potential and ability long before I did,” Lindsay told me, “and encouraged me to take leadership roles whenever and wherever they appeared.”
Election Day Progresses With Lindsay’s 11:30 a.m. Report from Waxman Campaign Headquarters
Lots of calls at the office this morning from excited voters! A mix of people ready to celebrate tonight, those anxious for results and some with problems at their polling place.The Campaign’s Biggest Challenges
Regardless of why they’re calling, it’s energizing to hear from people who are so passionate about re-electing Congressman Waxman. It’s not every day you get to vote for someone who is arguably one of the most effective member of Congress, and it is clear that people are honored to cast their vote for Rep. Waxman today.
Not as if I need it, but these calls remind me why I am so honored to work for the Congressman. He is a fierce advocate for equal pay, passing a comprehensive Violence Against Women Act, protecting a woman’s right to choose and ensuring that all women (actually, all Americans) have access to quality and affordable health care.
We are all good hands with him in Congress, and it’s great to know that thousands of voters are standing with him today.
When I asked Lindsay what had been her biggest challenges in running the Waxman campaign, she named two – both of them among seven reasons women don’t run listed by the Men Rule white paper.
Those two challenges were negative campaigning and campaign’s impact on her personal life. Regarding the negative campaigning, Lindsay stressed her belief that Waxman was “arguably one of the most important people in Congress” protecting women’s rights and the environment from harm. “It’s hard,” she said “to fight against the people who are running just to be elected by attacking my candidate who actually cares about what he does, about the real politics affecting the lives of ordinary people.”
These difficulties would come as no surprise to the Men Rule authors who wrote,
Ultimately, we identify seven factors that contribute to the gender gap – either by directly impeding women’s political ambition, or by making the decision calculus far more complex and complicated for women than men: 1. Women are substantially more likely than men to perceive the electoral environment as highly competitive and biased against female candidates. 2. Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin’s candidacies aggravated women’s perceptions of gender bias in the electoral arena. 3. Women are much less likely than men to think they are qualified to run for office. 4. Female potential candidates are less competitive, less confident, and more risk averse than their male counterparts. 5. Women react more negatively than men to many aspects of modern campaigns. 6. Women are less likely than men to receive the suggestion to run for office – from anyone. 7. Women are still responsible for the majority of childcare and household tasks.Hot in the Kitchen
When I first read this list, I must admit I was dismayed by it, thinking that women need to toughen up if they expect their rights to be protected. Sure, there are politicians who protect women’s rights because they care and others because they need women’s vote, but at day’s end, if women can’t stand up to protect their own rights, no one else is likely to do it for us as the last four years have proven.
Then I paused to ask myself whether the problem was women or the male-dominated cut-throat, win-at-any-cost political system itself – a system that has proven its inability to accomplish much of anything for the very reasons women don’t want to be a part of it. Stalemate, demonization, and the stubborn refusal of one “side” to even listen to the other, much less find a way of governing from the center rather than the polarized edges where quicksand abides.
Could it be that an influx of women into the political process and the halls of power might change the dynamic that now keeps too many of us out?
Before answering that question, let’s check in with Lindsay for her hourly update from Waxman campaign headquarters. 1 p.m. Pacific Standard Time
It’s just about lunch time and volunteers at Waxman Headquarters are borderline giddy with excitement! After many long months of hard work, everyone is enjoying this final day at the office today. Don’t get me wrong, lots of hard work is still being done, but everyone is so happy that Election Day is finally here.3 p.m. Update from Lindsay Bubar
And, it’s a plus for me that the office is filled with women! It’s great working for female candidates, or on campaigns with women in leadership roles…you tend to have more women volunteering. No offense men, we love you too, but a campaign office full of women on Election Day is pretty incredible. Particularly this year, when women’s issues have been such a critical part of this election.
The stakes are high for women this year, but when women vote, women (and the men who respect us) win. So ladies, if you still haven’t been to your polling place, please vote. Our daughters and granddaughters are counting on you
As the first polls start to close on the East Coast, the conversation at Waxman Headquarters has shifted to the Presidential race. Even though Obama’s team has been vigilant about fighting the many voter suppression laws put on the ballot by conservative state legislatures around the country, the effort to keep liberal-leaning voters out of the polls today is still strong. From electronic voting machines in Pennsylvania switching votes for Obama to votes for Romney, to people waiting in hour-long lines being told they need IDs to vote (which they actually don’t need), the effort to disenfranchise young people, people of color, seniors and poor people is real.
I encourage everyone to stay strong, know that it is your right to vote, and don’t let these efforts dissuade you from letting your voice be heard. Many Americans risked their lives for the right to vote. Let’s stand on the shoulders of our ancestors and exercise our right they fought so hard for.
Will There Be A Bubar Presidential Ticket?
If you’re in California and you have any problems at your polling place, please call with your concerns immediately to (877) 321-VOTE.
Having worked so hard to encourage women to run for office, I had to ask Lindsay whether there might ever be a Bubar for President campaign.
“Of course I’ve thought about running for office someday,” she told me, adding that “politics is extremely challenging for women. They get scrutinized in ways men never would, but it would be hypocritical of me to let those obstacles stand in my way, wouldn’t it?”
Perhaps. More importantly, what does Bubar believe she could bring into the political sphere that another couldn’t. Modestly, she defaulted to what women bring into public life – the way we build consensus and a passion for our work that arises from how high the stakes are for women – contraceptives, abortion, bodily well-being, and, wage gap.
“It may sound cliche,” she admitted, “but I really want to make a difference in the world. I want to stop violence against and the suppression of women. I care deeply about access to high quality education and health care for everyone. I think those are concerns that women will always bring to the table where they might be seen as just ‘women’s issues’ to many men.”
Family and Political Life
David Graham-Caso, plan their wedding.
David is the President of the Los Angeles County Young Democrats and Communications Director for the Office of Councilmember Richard Alarcon.
They’re both looking forward to having a family, Lindsay told me, and David is incredibly supportive – an “absolute #1 cheerleader.”
At first, she didn’t think she’d have enough time to pursue her own political aspirations and raise a family as well. But that’s where role models and mentors come in to play again.
Wendy Gruel, who is running to be the first female mayor in Los Angeles has a family, says Lindsay, and she’s encouraged Lindsay to go for her dreams and a family at the same time. On her Facebook page today, Gruel posted a picture of herself voting with her young son, Thomas. It reminded me of the recent HBO documentary on Ethel Kennedy, always surrounded by her children and always at some Congressional hearing, Senate debate or a foreign policy tour.
The authors of Men Rule conclude their exhaustive study of women’s willingness to serve in political office with the benefits Lindsay cites as those that would animate a political candidacy of her own. “Despite their low numbers,” the authors opine, “female elected officials make a difference in the issues they prioritize, the bills they sponsor and cosponsor, the output they generate, and the extent to which they mobilize their constituents.”
We’ll close this piece with Lindsay’s last thoughts of the day and hopes for the future.
Lindsay’s Final Thoughts as the Campaign Comes to a Close at 5 p.m. on Election Day
As the day slowly comes to a close, I have the election butterflies. In fact, I think my nerves are already shot. There is so much at stake tonight, and I have invested my life in 2012 to help elect some incredible leaders. Congressman Waxman and Assemblymember Butler are two of the best, and I have been more than honored to work with them both.
When I started running Butler’s campaign in September 2011, I had no idea where this journey would take me. I left my secure job, took a risk, and jumped on board one of the most hard-fought races in California’s primary election. I am grateful to Betsy for serving as my mentor, pushing me to reach past what was comfortable and give me the opportunity to shine. One of the things that drives me in my career is the hope that I can do for other young women what Betsy did for me.
Being asked to come on board the Waxman campaign was surreal. I heard about Henry Waxman my entire life and closely followed his great work. As an environmentalist, his work is legendary. Jumping from a State Assembly race to a National Congressional race, with the fate of Congressman Waxman’s career in my hands, was nerve-wracking. I would be working with high-level National consultants, including many who helped elect and advise President Obama. And, not surprisingly, all were men. I wasn’t just in the big leagues, I was playing with the big boys. For a 30-year-old woman who some might consider an election novice, I had a lot to prove. I did what I knew how, and jumped in head-first. And the lessons I learned on this campaign, about politics and life, are invaluable.
I learned that as a young woman in politics, you have to push beyond what men do. You have to work harder, faster and smarter. And you’re expected to do it all with authority (while not being too pushy) and grace (while not being too soft). Some might say that women in politics are set up to fail. And again, I did what I know how, and kept pushing.
And it all paid off. The roller-coaster ride of the campaign has been an incredible challenge, one I will be forever grateful for. But more than that, I hope I have paved the way for other young women whose voice we desperately need in politics. Women bring a critical perspective and life experience to the table, and our world would be a better place if we had equal representation in politics. I hope my story, my risks, my experience, gives other young women hope that there is room for them in the political arena.
And most of all, I am looking forward to the next step in the journey. Aside from all of the political lessons, one of the most important I have learned is how critical it is to have a supportive partner and support system. On December 1, I am marrying the love of my life, and his support throughout this year has gotten me through the challenging days. I thank the women, like Wendy Greuel and Kirsten Gillibrand, who prove every day that family and politics can work, and that everyone can create a balance that is fulfilling and works for them.
I don’t know what my next step in politics will be, but I do know I will continue to work hard every day so young women and girls are left with a better world, filled with the opportunity to thrive and fulfill their full potential.Thanks so much, Lindsay, for sharing your election day with ForbesWomen readers. We wish you all the best as we too turn to the final election coverage of the evening.
Lindsay is the current President of NWPC LA Westside.