Nicole Shanahan is a Mama Bear Outsider with Empathy. That’s a Good Thing.

Nicole Shanahan is a Mama Bear Outsider with Empathy. That’s a Good Thing.
American Values 2024 | March 28, 2024

By Frances Scott, The Kennedy Beacon

Truth be told: I wanted someone else, but she won me over.

In the weeks leading up to Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s VP announcement, I’d been thinking he should pick someone other than Nicole Shanahan. All I knew was that she was a California attorney. She’d married and gotten divorced from a guy who’d co-founded Google and had a net worth of over $120 billion. I felt sure Shanahan had amassed much more at the age of 38 than most of us will in a lifetime, so naturally something inside me groaned and rolled my eyes when her name began being batted around.

Once I learned Shanahan was the pick though, I very intentionally pried my mind back open.

Kennedy could see something in Shanahan, so maybe I should try. After all, for weeks, he’d been telling us she was really something. To get that kind of praise from a smart man like Kennedy, I figured she had to be special.

And I do believe she is.

Like Kennedy, Shanahan’s unusually wide breadth of experience has produced refreshingly balanced perspectives.

The first lump in my throat formed as Shanahan, in a video shown prior to her live speech, recalled her mom, on food stamps, in the grocery store check-out line, telling her kids to wait over by the magazines while she paid.

“It was hard,” she says in the video. “It was really hard. Those programs – they saved my family. They gave me a chance.”

Those of you who grew up poor and those of you who’ve seen your kids reading the words ‘Payment Declined’ on the cashier’s screen and understanding why you’re leaving the store without the groceries probably noticed similar lumps. Hard times change you. Sometimes, they change you for the better.

Once Shanahan started speaking live in Oakland, it was clear she has a sort of hard-to-fake air that makes people believe she’s telling them the whole truth. Her resume and scholastic and professional accomplishments testify to her intelligence. Seeing her eyes filling with tears as she said, “The purpose of wealth is to help those in need,” a sentiment that told me she had things more important than wit: compassion, passion, integrity and, most important to me at least, empathy.

A few minutes into Shanahan’s acceptance speech, I texted a friend who’d shared my reservations about her.

“OK. She’s kind of adorable,” I confessed.

Until I really thought it through, I’d figured the VP position required years of experience in DC. I’d wanted someone who had challenged authority and bucked the system from the inside as hard as Kennedy had from the outside. I realize now he didn’t pick such a person because that person doesn’t exist. I consider it delusional to think some multi-term lawmaker could be “The One” to help Kennedy wrest our democracy back from the corporate talons currently holding it captive.

No, it’s going to take more; it’s going to take outsiders like Shanahan.

We need not only Kennedy and Shanahan but all of our country’s disillusioned – Republicans, Democrats, independents, the “never-before political,” soccer moms, hockey dads and even the crazy aunts and wacky great uncles – to finally start paying attention and getting involved.

Shanahan has set a high bar for us, organizing walkouts in high school to protest the Iraq War, helping victims of civil war in El Salvador, figuring out what may have caused her daughter’s health to tank, producing documentaries about what would help our society get healthy again, and calling boldly (while many in “science” shout, “Nothing to see here!”) for research into every possible thing that could be making Americans chronically ill. Like Kennedy, her life speaks inspiration into existence. The lesson I’ve taken from a cursory peek into her backstory: do whatever you can.

What Shanahan talks about is the stuff that stirs my mama bear heart and convinces me it’s time for us outsiders to take the reins.

Nicole Shanahan wasn’t the VP candidate I thought I wanted, but after hearing what moves her, I know she’s a smart woman, a fierce mother, an inspiring leader and exactly the right type of mama bear outsider to be America’s next VP.

Frances Scott is an Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist, a health freedom and medical device safety advocate, and a columnist at The Kennedy Beacon.

Thanks for reading The Kennedy Beacon! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.

American Values 2024 © All Rights Reserved 2024