With just four days left in the presidential race, most of us are breathing a sigh of relief. Like many of you, my emotions have run amok.
But one of the highlights this fall was the opportunity to meet Elizabeth Banks stumping for Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail. She is warm, down-to-earth and passionate. She sat down with me and a small group of supporters to talk about the election
Elizabeth Banks takes nothing for granted in this election, and that is why she has been a presence on the campaign trail.
The actress, director and producer, known for her many role in movies such as The Hunger Games, Pitch Perfect, and Spider-Man, is walking the walk for her candidate of choice, Hillary Clinton.
She is also the mom of two boys, and joked that Back-to-School Nights at her sons’ school had cut into her busy schedule.
“The reason I’m doing this (campaigning) is because it matters. And as Hillary supporters,” she said looking around the room, “what you are doing matters. We’re all here for the same reason. We want Hillary Clinton to be the next president of the United States.”
Banks described the first time she met Hilary Clinton. It was a wow.
“It was 1992 and I was a freshman at Penn (University of Pennsylvania),” she said. “I attended a rally for Bill Clinton, but what I remember most was being transfixed by Hillary.
“As an eighteen year-old, a young woman who was trying to figure out what I was supposed to do and how to be a leader and who my role models should be, I was just completely struck by her.
“I knew then that she would change the face of what a First Lady was. There was a real partnership with her husband, and she had the brains to make a contribution. She was going to make a real difference.”
Fast forward to 2008. “My husband (sportswriter and producer Max Handelman) – he’s big into politics as well, and he was really excited about this young upstart named Barack Obama and I was like, but what about Hillary?”
Now it is Hillary’s time, she said.
“The founding fathers had long discussions about what they wanted this country to be,” she said. “After a great deal of thought, they decided on the number one ideal. It wasn’t the pursuit of happiness. It wasn’t freedom. The number one ideal was equality.”
She added, “It’s taken a long time, but we’ve been getting closer and closer to equality. When I think about equality, I think about women’s suffrage. Women fought to vote, and after 150 years that happened.
“We’ve had the civil rights movement, and the LGBGT movement, and we’re making progress. Hillary Clinton is the next step in reaching that ideal of equality.
“Weren’t we all told as little girls we could be anything? You can dream big. The world is open to you. Be what you want to be. The world is open to you.“
But until now, the prospect of a female president did not seem attainable.
“I have kids now, I know how it is,” she said. No one ‘has it all.’ If you’re doing one thing you can’t be doing another. You miss the kids’ things, you have to go to work. Well, that’s how we do it.
“Hillary Clinton knows this better than anyone. She’s worked hard, with over 40 years of public service. What her critics like to say is ‘she’s very inside Washington. We need someone from the outside.’ Well, how more outside can you get? She’s a female! No other woman has ever done this. And by the way, I don’t think of her as inside. I think of that as experience. She’s so qualified, so amazing.
“We are at a crossroads. We are looking in the mirror as a nation and we are either going to take keep choosing progress toward our idea of equality or we are going to take a massive step backward.”
For anyone thinking about sitting out the election, she said, this is the time to exercise your right to vote.
“I remember going to vote for Obama and getting the “I Voted” sticker, and I was so proud of that,” she said. “Because it was so historic, and it was amazing to be a part of that.
“For young people especially, it is so important to get out and vote. You’ll be really disappointed in yourself if you don’t get the “I Voted” sticker when we elect the first female president.”
Banks said that she would be out campaigning no matter what.
“I am a politically active person from growing up with parents who had us sit around the table and read the paper and get involved in politics. So this is in my blood. What I love about my position is that it affords me a voice. I really understand the voiceless — people who need politics and policy to help their lives. I’m here because I think it really matters who is in charge.
“If my celebrity gives me the platform for my voice to be heard a little bit louder, I’ll take it. I love this country and I want what’s best for it.