Debbie Wasserman Schultz came to Congress at the age of 26, and over the past two decades, the Democratic representative from Florida has taken on a variety of challenges and roles. Professionally she's risen the ranks to become the chair of the Democratic National Committee, while personally she's become a mother of three and successfully defeated breast cancer. This month, the congresswoman is out with a new book, For the Next Generation, which outlines her progressive principles and the experiences that inform them.
Amid the turmoil in Washington DC this week, we spoke with her about the current state of politics in America. When we asked her if there was a bright spot in bipartisan relationships that might get drowned out in all the noise about the shutdown and debt ceiling, this is what she told us: "There are women members making an interparty effort to try to build some trust and work together." According to Wasserman Schultz, "women members only half-jokingly say, 'if there were more of us and we had an opportunity to knock out the differences we have and the government shutdown, we would get this done in a matter of hours.'"
Women Build Consensus
Based on Wasserman Schultz's experience, female lawmakers are better at building consensus and empathizing with their adversaries, which pays off in negotiations. She explained that often the women she works with want to set up win-win deals and make their opponents "feel like they got a piece of victory." She went on, "if we added more women’s voices and put them in more of a position of power, we would have the opportunity to solve our problems in a way that is not as divisive."
Putting Aside Even Friendly Competition
In Congress, one way female members managed to strike out partisan bickering is with the annual softball game. She explained, "there’s been a baseball game played for many years for charity by mostly the male members of congress, and the Republicans play against the Democrats." For the softball game, which raises money for cancer survivors, Wasserman Schultz and the game's other founders decided Republican and Democrat women would play on the same team. She said, "cancer is not a partisan issue."