Five at The IX:
On Tuesday, I spoke to Miye D'Oench about her time in Kentucky, difficult conversations in hockey, and what lies ahead. NOTE: I wanted readers to get a sense of the political perspective of Amy McGrath from the eyes of D'Oench. Therefore, this Five at The IX may run longer than usual. I hope you will enjoy reading Miye's words as much as I enjoyed listening to them. (photo via Troy Parla/NWHL)
Erica L. Ayala: You're coming back to the RIveters after working on the Congressional campaign of Amy McGrath, what was that like?
Miye D'Oench: It was crazy. It was exhausting and punishing and rewarding, and inspiring. It was really amazing to see tons of people sacrificing their time and energy towards a candidate that they just believed in. But it was hard, it was really hard. You know, it's long hours and a lot of people time and you know a lot of frustrating moments and all of that but just have no regrets at all about doing it.
ELA: What was your day-to-day like as a field organizer for the campaign?
MD: I split my time between Lexington–which is the biggest city in the district by far–we had the biggest field office there ... and then I also was in charge of the Jessamine field office as well, which is a smaller, more rural county just south of Lexington.
Those two offices were really different. Lexington was really busy and [more libral]. Jessamine was a little bit more slow and steady and canvassing was a lot tougher because it's more rural, long distances between doors, and all that stuff. Day-to-day we would spend the morning doing all the administrative and office work related things that we need to in order to have the office function. Everything literally cleaning bathrooms to answering questions from volunteers, and fielding phone calls.
And then for four hours a day, we were just calling people to recruit them to volunteer and get them excited about Amy. And after 8:00-8:30 pm when it's kind of rude to be calling people we would wrap everything up and try to have team huddles and stuff that we couldn't really have productively during the day.
ELA: What about Amy as a person and a candidate ultimately led you to apply to work on her campaign?
MD: When I was researching candidates, something that struck me about Amy was her very pragmatic. Amy is a really practical, thoughtful person and that's the type of politician she wants to be, and is. Her positions are well thought out and they take into account not only whatever the ideal is, but also what is practically achievable now. I think that's admirable and I think you know.
On a side note, I think it's really amazing to have candidates and politicians who are fighting for the ideal but you also need people like Amy who I think would have been a really amazing asset in Congress just because she's so capable and smart and thoughtful, but also just really committed to pragmatism and to the task at hand and trying to make change in increments that are realistic.
So, that was one thing that I really respected about her. I respect the exact opposite in other candidates sometimes. So it's it's not necessarily something that everybody you know has to have. She brought her experience with the military and everything she's learned over the years and translated that into policy, and that was another thing that I really respected.
In terms of her platform when she went I was kind of there and running and you know running with her toward the finish line. That was really interesting too. She was steadfast both [in] the fact that she ran a completely positive campaign, one very few in the country that did despite a barrage of negativity from the other side starting early on. And also you know there were positions that she knew were unpopular. You know she was steadfast in her position about choice and she really was is aligned with me on a lot of issues.
I there are issues with Amy where I would have taken a slightly different stance. But you know that. Sort of pales in comparison to what the other side was offering. You know like somebody who's going to speak out about climate change. So these are basic things that Amy and I both believe in. I was really proud to you know work on her campaign, despite you know small differences in our in our personal ideologies.
ELA: You've talked to me before about feeling a sense of urgency to more meaningful action after the 2016 presidential election. Were there things throughout the presidential election. And you know in 2016 that that really made you want more not just for the country but for also your party?
MD: Yes. This is an interesting question. I think it has to be prefaced by saying that there isn't an equivalency between what we saw in 2016 from the Democrats and what we saw from the Republicans. Both parties have serious flaws and serious problems. But I think, it's dangerous to frame any answer I give and not say that I don't believe that there is an equivalency in the scale of an in the tenor of the of the issues
But the Democratic Party has big problems. I think something that was really evident in 2016 was when faced with you know millions of people who were who were reacting to the type of ideas and rhetoric that Donald Trump was spewing with positivity and with energy and with hope and enthusiasm, we didn't respond with enough empathy to those people. And I include myself in that it's a really challenging thing that I still struggle with is that.
There are certain events and policies and moments that have been truly horrifying and disgusting. It's easy to vilify the people or condemn the people who responded ... positively to those moments.
I think it's [the job of] Democratic politicians job to find a message to those people that can communicate with them in a way that doesn't play on fear or doesn't exacerbate their frustrations but rather mollifies them. And that's really challenging because it's much easier to make people afraid. And we didn't do that in 2016. And we've only just started to do that in 2018.
I'm really hopeful about what we saw in 2018. A lot of candidates that ran were really persuasive messengers. But I think there is so much so so so much work to be done. And the Democrats are they think have done an OK ... but it's really, really hard because there are really truly reprehensible when things happen, for instance, tear gassing asylum seekers. You know how do you how do you respond to that without with empathy for people who might disagree with you but also standing firm about you know this is this is completely unacceptable and you know you simply can't can't hold the belief that this might be acceptable.
So you know that's really tough and I don't know. But, so far I've been really impressed with many of the people who have navigated those last moments really well. It's amazing to see.
ELA: You are starting at Stanford Law School in August. Do you have some thoughts about what you hope to do with a juris doctorate?
MD: I don't have a specific idea but it's something that I've put thought into. I know I want to litigate. I worked in criminal law for two years at the [Manhattan District Attorney's] office and I think criminal law is fascinating. It's competitive, and adversarial! It's fun, it's challenging, and It's important, really important.
I think if you want to have the highest impact, you should be a prosecutor because prosecutors hold the decision making power and the defense is much more reactive and we need good public defenders. We need good defense attorneys, but I think a lot of progressive-minded people turn to that and fewer become prosecutors, and that is a huge problem.