I am not qualified fairly summarize or evaluate Charlyne Yi’s speech to South Dakota Democrats at McGovern Day in Sioux Falls on April 30. I entered the event biased, disappointed that the Bernie Sanders campaign was sending as its surrogate a lesser-known Hollywood celebrity while the Hillary Clinton campaign was sending seven-term Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio. I walked out of Yi’s speech halfway through when she apparently abandoned any prepared remarks and started dropping f-bombs. I thus cannot properly assess the quality and impact of her entire speech.
Yi apparently got the sense it didn’t go too well… but rationalizes her failure to represent candidate Sanders effectively as an exercise in her emotional superiority to political figures:
I think I am too angry to speak in politics. I went to McGovern Day in South Dakota tonight and cursed up a storm during dinner….I don’t think it went over very well. My heart exploded everywhere. Political figures speak in riddles and rhymes avoiding actually feeling empathy and talking about the issues. And to be honest, my heart is broken because we shouldn’t have to debate whether the lives of those affected by Fracking (who are dealing with cancer, mental health problems, respiratory problems) are worth fighting for. We shouldn’t have to convince people to start caring about the well being of Native Americans. We shouldn’t have to beg the government to honor their treaty, allowing the Apache to keep Oak Flat, their culture, and ceremonial land that they’ve had for over 700 years. What kind of surreal world do we live in where empathy is not our first instinct and profit is? Do we really need to take more from the Native people? Without honor, what are we?
Tomorrow I’ll release my speech that I meant to say at McGovern Day. Unfortunately, something else came out. Maybe my soul that’s aching [Charlyne Yi, Facebook post, 2016.04.30 23:42 CST].
That’s funny. Congressman Tim Ryan is a political figure. I heard him speak at dinner and earlier at our candidate training session. I didn’t hear him speaking in riddles and rhymes. I heard him speaking with empathy for the working class and talking about issues. I heard his soul bursting with pride in the achievements of his preferred Presidential candidate, our party, and our nation yet still aching over injustice that he’s determined to fight. Amidst all of his passion, he maintained the stage presence and control to give the clear, conversational, rousing speech that he meant to give. And when Congressman Ryan summed up his McGovern Day appearance on his Facebook page, he didn’t need to indulge and excuse his emotions. He just repeated what he was there to do: support Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party:
We can speak with passion, empathy, and clarity about political issues. I try to do that every day here on the blog. It’s not easy. It takes practice. It takes getting beyond self-indulgence and understanding one’s duty to one’s audience. Keep practicing, Ms. Yi. Take notes from Congressman Ryan. You can get there. You can make your emotions propel your political messages rather than letting your emotions get in the way.