Pulitzer-winner talks politics at Ohio Wesleyan
With the midterm elections just days away, Ohio Wesleyan University hosted Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Connie Schultz for a discussion on current issues and the election with students and local residents.
She was introduced by OWU’s journalism department chair Paul Kostyu, who described Schultz as someone who is “infinitely attached to the political landscape (in Ohio) and knows it well.”
In Schultz’s 2005 award citation, the Pulitzer Prize Board calls her work “pungent columns that provided a voice for the underdog and underprivileged.” She writes a nationally syndicated column, previously wrote a column for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and is married to Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
Schultz discussed her views on several partisan issues while taking questions from the audience, which included a large number of female students and residents. The importance of women’s involvement in politics and the press was something she stressed repeatedly.
“I am a feminist, I don’t see how I could not be,” she said, crediting the women’s movement with allowing her to work as a national columnist. “…I get to write about politics and get to be one of the only women often on the op-ed page because of the feminist movement. I am a feminist out of gratitude, if nothing else.”
She said that both the Democratic and Republican parties need to cultivate more young people, including women, as active members so they could remain competitive.
“You need multiple parties, you need multiple voices and multiple viewpoints to reach consensus on things and also to gain the public trust,” Schultz said.
“…When you’re talking about politics, you’re supposed to represent all of us in all our varied views and (officials) are supposed to represent the best in all of us.”
She also discussed likely candidates for the 2016 presidential nomination, including Ohio’s Governor John Kasich. She also thinks he may be challenged by Republicans including Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
On the Democratic side, she expects former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will run but named New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland, and potentially Vermont’s Senator Bernie Sanders as candidates who may run if Clinton does not.
“You’ve got two open fields, this is going to be quite a season,” Schultz said.
She said definitively that Sherrod Brown would not be running for the Democratic nomination, and described how challenging the position of President must be.
“There’s a reason they go gray so quickly, we have no idea,” she said. “Every day, they are told about threats to Americans around the globe. That’s how they start their day.”
Local resident Marianne Gabel said Schultz’s program was the kind of discussion politicians should have with voters but often don’t.
“I thought she nailed the issues pretty well,” Gabel said, adding that the program went well.
“You’ve got a real breadth of the community out here, all ages, students,” she said. For Gabel, a lawyer, the message about women in politics was particularly important.
“I think women in politics can have more of that compassion, more of that understanding of life experiences of people who aren’t at the top and empowered.”
Ohio Wesleyan student Lauren Rump, a Cleveland native, has followed Schultz’s writing since it appeared in the Plain Dealer and was very excited to see her in person.
“I really like that she was saying that there needs to be women on both sides involved in politics, like Democrat women and Republican women, and independent women and Green Party women,” Rump said. “We’re only more informed if women are involved on all sides and everyone’s opinion is valued.”