I’ve thought it over today, and I take back most of what I wrote about Caroline Kennedy’s bid for the special appointment to fill the Senate seat that will be vacated when Hillary Clinton is confirmed by the Senate to become Barack Obama’s Secretary of State. Now that it looks like we’ll have a Senate seat in need of a special appointment here in Colorado, I’ve asked myself: why should experience in politics count for anything? After all, various politicians in Colorado have expressed a great deal of interest in serving as top administrators in higher education without terminal degrees or any experience whatsoever, why shouldn’t I, a humble History professor with no experience in politics, throw my hat in the ring?
So here’s a draft of the letter I will send to Governor Bill Ritter to lay out my qualifications to become the next Senator from Colorado (and, not incidentally, Colorado’s first woman U.S. Senator). Please let me know what you think, and where you would recommend changes!
Dear Governor Ritter,
I am writing to you to express my strong interest in being appointed to fill the open seat in the U.S. Senate that will be vacant pending Senator Ken Salazar’s confirmation by his Senate colleagues to become the next Secretary of the Interior. I meet all of the constitutional requirements to serve as a U.S. Senator, but more importantly, I believe that my 22 years in higher education have prepared me very well to serve the people of the state of Colorado in the U.S. Senate. In addition to education, my other top issue will be the development of clean, green energy technologies and industries, because like you I believe that our state should be a leader on these issues.
I know you probably aren’t getting a lot of telephone calls from other professors about this job. But Colorado has recently showed itself to be very open to politicians like former U.S. Senators and failed gubernatorial candidates serving as university presidents and chancellors, and it goes without saying that the people of our state would be equally well served by permitting people in higher education to enter politics at the top. Since our retiring U.S. Senator Wayne Allard has indicated his interest in becoming the Chancellor of Baa Ram U., appointing me to the U.S. Senate would be an even trade, and it would permit politicians in Colorado and in the U.S. Senate to benefit from the experience and wisdom of the academy.
As an early American historian who regularly teaches on the era of the American Revolution and the writing of the U.S. Constitution, I am well versed in the history and political philosophy of our nation. (Now that Robert Byrd is geezing pretty badly, the Senate will need another “historian.”) Furthermore, as a women’s historian, no possible candidate for this Senate seat would understand better the significance of my becoming our state’s first woman Senator. I am a proven vote-getter, as I have regularly been elected to serve on my department’s Executive Committee, which works much like a combination of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and the Rules Committee. Additionally, I’ve been elected this year to represent my department on the College Tenure and Promotion Committee, experience that would be applicable to service on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
I have a great deal of administrative experience for a regular faculty member, earned within my department as the Graduate Studies Chair for one year, and as a Program Committee co-Chair of the 2008 Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, a triennial event with 1,100 people on the program and which drew more than 1,400 registered participants. My experience in both of these positions demonstrates that I would be able to assemble a great team of advisers and a crackerjack administrative staff to assist me in Washington and with my re-election campaign. Additionally, as a Baa Ram U. faculty member, I would have access to some of the finest minds working on environmental issues in the country.
Finally, I would bring some intangible advantages to the Senate and to the Colorado Democratic Party. I am physically fit and a hiking enthusiast, as are all of my very photogenic family members, so my campaign website and brochures would offer plenty of the pictures that are de rigeur for Colorado politicians: me and my family embracing each other on top of various peaks in scenic vistas. While I am not a native Coloradoan–which I realize may be a vulnerability–I would submit that the non-native Coloradoans who have found employment and made happy lives for themselves here deserve quality representation in the U.S. Senate too.
As a faculty member at a state university, I have already demonstrated that I work hard for the people of Colorado. I would be honored to serve them in the U.S. Senate.
Yours Very Sincerely,