Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

I've always been feisty. I think I've always kind of been a believer in saying it like it is, even as a little girl. If I saw a disabled person on the subway train -- I grew up in New York -- and people were staring, my mother would say to me, "Never ever, ever look at somebody in such a way as those people are doing. And if you see it, you speak up." That stuck with me.

I don't have a fear of politics. Why would I? All you can do is get criticized and explain your position. The more they come after me, the more I'm going to speak up, you know. There was a woman who wrote a nonfiction book on what it takes to be a woman in the Congress. And what she found was something she called "inner applause," what she described as: "Even though you're out there, and people are saying all these awful things, if you think you're right, inside you feel the applause of your parents." I'm not afraid of anything, but it doesn't mean that things aren't difficult.

I cry when I lose a family member. I don't cry when I lose an election. I had little kids that first time I lost. It was 1972, and I went to my son, who was 7, because I wanted to prepare him in case he got laughed at in school. "Your mom lost," and all that. So I sat down with him, and I said, "I just want you to know that people might make fun, but don't worry. We had a good race." And I go into this whole thing: "You be proud." And he listened, and then he looks at me and says to me: "Did you make my peanut butter and jelly sandwich for school?" And I never forgot that. The point is: You're going to wake up in the morning and still have a life.

Interview by Cathy Areu

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