Convention delegate visits Northgate

Convention delegate visits Northgate

Fresh off the floors of the July Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, which brought the historic nomination of Hillary Clinton for president, a Saint Mary’s professor and former Northgate parent shared her experiences.

More than 100 students and over a dozen staff members filled the Lecture Hall at lunch on Sept. 22 to hear Dr. Monica Fitzgerald share her experiences and to ask questions about politicians, feminism, and the Black Lives Matter movement.

“She provided us with very insightful details about how the government works and told us how even a single vote makes a difference,” junior Priya Verma said of the lecture experience. “I really liked how she said once we are of age, we should definitely vote because it’s a major power that we have to shape our future.”

Fitzgerald spoke for ten minutes about her experience as a delegate, and then opened up the rest of the time for questions.

Students who showed up shared their knowledge of the upcoming 2016 presidential election through their questions, inquiring about Fitzgerald’s opinions on Clinton, Republican candidate Donald Trump, and Bernie Sanders, as well as other political issues.

Why support Clinton? Asked an audience member. “She’s a pragmatist. She is a thinker who thinks things out,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald discussed the need for leaders in Washington to represent the racial, gender and cultural diversity of the nation. “To be a democracy, our government needs to look like us, and right now it doesn’t,” she said.

She lauded Clinton’s commitment to what she called an “impactful” pledge to inclusion and diversity. “She will make her cabinet look like us, with 50 percent women,” she said.

In response to a student question, Fitzgerald commented on the Electoral College. “I think we do need to rethink the Electoral College,” she said. “It’s an antiquated system. If we have one person one vote, why is it in place?”

Fitzgerald didn’t just stick to party lines;  asked about Republican candidate Donald Trump’s choice of Mike Pence over Chris Christie as a vice presidential candidate, she called Pence a “serious person and politician.”

“Dr. Fitzgerald shared her viewpoints from both sides of the presidential election but she focused more on opinions of Hillary Clinton,” said junior Selina Tung responded after the session.

That is likely because Fitzgerald is a staunch Democrat who has been a delegate at three conventions and a supporter of women in politics. In fact, after greeting the students, she explained why, at the convention, Clinton wore a white outfit to receive the Democratic nomination on the final night. The Suffragettes, prior to the 19th Amendment of the Constitution that gave women the right to vote, wore white as a symbol of their cause.

“Hillary Clinton wearing white was a very purposeful nod to the women who fought for our rights to be enfranchised,” AP U.S. History teacher Meg Honey, who arranged for Fitzgerald to visit, later explained.

Honey also flashed a picture on the lecture hall screen of what Fitzgerald wore to the convention – a flag-themed dress with a blue sash with “Hillary” printed on it – and shared an anecdote. The dress, which Fitzgerald made, was an imitation of those a group of young women wore to the 1960 Democratic Convention with “Kennedy” printed on their blue sashes. The women became known as the “Kennedy girls,” and coincidentally one of the women encountered Fitzgerald at a convention event. “She said ‘that’s my dress,’” Fitzgerald explained with a laugh. The New York Post also published a photo of Fitzgerald wearing the dress. Fitzgerald later praised her audience on their awareness and interest..

“It was great to see this room filled, and it was mostly filled with students,” she said. “I loved talking to young people in this lecture, especially since they got so energized because of Bernie [Sanders].”

Fitzgerald was quite impressed with how much Northgate students know about this year’s presidential election and referenced student knowledge of the election during her time in high school.

“I felt they knew a lot more about the election than most people when I was in high school as a senior,” she said. “I thought they were intelligent and informed. I think what was great is that the Bernie people and the other folks brought their ideas to it and weren’t afraid to talk about it.”