A SYTYCB entry
This summer on the streets of Brooklyn, a young woman is pounding the pavement with drive, ambition and chutzpah. Mindy Meyer, a 22 year old Orthodox Jewish woman is running for State Senate on the Conservative Party line, and she’s generating a lot of press from her unconventional campaign tactics. Her bright pink and leopard print website is bringing her lots of attention and has garnered her the nickname “Magenta Yenta” although she refers to herself as “The Diva of the District.”
On the positions page of Meyers website, – she is seemingly both in favor of and opposed to stop and frisk, and comes out in favor of school vouchers and against crime. She is also anti-choice.
The way I see it, Meyer is like the Newt Gingrich of her generation, running for office for her own personal gain. She has said she would like her own reality show, and she definitely fits the stereotype. But the press is not playing along like they did for Gingrich. They focus almost entirely on her website and her wardrobe. I’m waiting for her to pull a Hillary Clinton and ask reporters if they are asking her opponent about his blazers.
Meyer appeared on Good Day New York and was unable to recognize the Speaker of the New York State Assembly (Sheldon Silver) or the Majority leader of the Senate (Dean Skelos.) Perhaps she was just having a momentary nervous lapse, but its difficult for me to reconcile this with her claim that she has been interested in politics since she was eleven. Politics geeks should be able to recognize these men, if not by name but by position, ie “I forget his name, but that’s the Speaker” as they are frequently covered in local newspapers and on television. That Meyer has this embarrassing video clip up on her website is either bait for more press and a reality show, or a truly cynical belief that there is no such thing as bad press. A local DJ took issue with this, and thought the line of questioning to be unfair. He invited her onto his show to defend herself. I think that the way she was asked the questions was patronizingly sexist – but it is valid to ask who she thinks she would ally with once elected to pass legislation. It’s just better television to humiliate a young woman you think is incompetent rather than to take her seriously and question her with respect.
When reporters focus on Meyer’s media persona instead of treating her like any other candidate – they’re doing a disservice to everyone. No one needs a major media outlet to see that Meyer’s website is pink. And by focusing on that, the idea that stereotypically feminine aesthetics are a sign of frivolity is reinforced. That isn’t news.
What people with access can do is find out what else (if anything) there is to Meyer’s candidacy. Ask her some serious questions. Here’s four:
1. You say you are in favor of programs to rehabilitate young people involved in gang violence, increase job training, and provide more support to survivors of domestic violence. How would such programs be funded?
2. What is your position on fracking?
3. What committee or committees would you hope to be appointed to, if elected?
4. Your previous statements indicate that you are not in favor of legal abortion in New York State. Would you support the provision of the Reproductive Health Act that provides a fundamental right to choose contraception?