I love to ask people, “If you could look the president right in the eye, right now, and say one thing to him, what would it be?” This always prompts a moment of silence, a glassy-eyed, deer-in-the-headlights stare, then a deep breath and a steely gaze, followed by something from the heart.
When I posed this question to philanthropist and social entrepreneur Betsy McKinney, she replied, “I would say to our current president, ‘Engage all women and people of color at the decision-making table. We are essential to creating a vibrant democracy. And I am asking you to safeguard our democracy. That is the most important thing you have been hired to do.’”
The idea of democracy was treated with great respect in Betsy’s childhood home. While she was growing up as one of six kids in a working class Catholic family in Cincinnati, Ohio, her mom liked to say, “American democracy is a love story.” Betsy took this to heart. After traveling the world and studying the best and worst aspects of government, she devoted her life to helping our democracy live up to its dictionary definition: “A system of government by the whole population.
As the founder and CEO of It’s Time Network, she brings together individuals and organizations to work on creating a democracy that truly represents all its constituents. Her Network City Program enables diverse members of the community to work together to give urban women and girls a fairer chance at education and jobs.
How is the USA doing when it comes to the gender gap? Frankly, not so great. Our world rank is an embarrassingly low 45th -- below Rwanda, Nicaragua, Moldova, Bolivia, Cuba and dozens of others. Now the current administration seems determined to roll back even the baby steps our country has taken towards racial and gender equality, apparently seeking to ease the pain of white male victimhood. With white males making up 31% of the US population, you have to wonder: if 69% of your citizens are marginalized, can you really consider yourself a democracy?
I sat down with Betsy recently to ask if she still thought American democracy was a love story. This short video reveals her answer.
This video is Episode 5 of my ongoing series Women of the American Resistance. You can view the complete series here on this website, on YouTube, my blog Enjoy Living Abroad, and American Resistance Sevilla; many episodes appear on Americans Resisting Overseas and other social media sites. Feel free to repost this video or link to this content. My goal is to tell the world about these remarkable American women and the work they're doing to help fix the mess we're in.
Karen McCann is a bestselling author whose travel tips and adventure stories have appeared in Huffington Post, International Living Magazine, New York Daily News, Los Angeles Times, and Lonely Planet. She is a founding member of American Resistance Sevilla.