Dina Fraioli is one relentlessly vervy kinetic ball of energy. How she keeps all the irons hot with which her hearth is currently stoked is one of life’s little mysteries, especially in the current political season! Dina is heavily involved in a highly effective political messaging organization, a job for which I would guess she is currently on call 24/7. Yet she unfailingly finds time to connect and interact meaningfully with friends.
Dina stands out from the crowd on Twitter. She has been one of my favorite conversationalists (as differentiated from follows, although that would also be applicable) from the get-go, simply because, agree or disagree, she engages. She thrives on give-and-take and does so with zest, humor and goodwill.
I try to be a straight shooter and I refuse to be other than loyal to my friends. Dina displays these same qualities, which is why I love her, even though our perspectives diverge on some issues that are close to my heart. I have maintained for a while now that in our limited-government conservative movement, we can and should communicate uncompromisingly about our convictions. Passionate and even, in the short term, heated debate is appropriate. But we must not marginalize each other and call a halt to the conversation.
Dina viscerally understands this. I suppose I am about as far to the right end of the Republican spectrum as anyone out there: I’m a strong social conservative, I identify with the Tea Party and I have donated to Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund and several of its candidates. Dina, by her own admission, is also a loyal Republican, but definitely aligns with the more libertarian wing. Our outlooks, then, do differ, but we both value our friends and understand who our opponents are and why they must be vanquished.
Beyond all of this, Dina is uproariously fun, impressively intelligent and genuinely sweet. I haven’t met her in person yet, but I count her as a bona fide friend and ally. She is one of many reasons why CPAC 2011 will be like a glorious family reunion, when a whole host of Twitter friends finally all gathers in one place after conversing all year!
If you aren’t already following Dina on Twitter, don’t delay further; go to @DinaFraioli post-haste and get the conversation going!
10 Questions for Dina Fraioli
1. I know you’re a Jewish girl from New York, but I’m rather ignorant about the bulk of your upbringing other than that! Can you help bring me up to speed?
I was born in New York and raised on Long Island by a strong mom and a tough dad. I grew up in a very liberal household. I was a rebellious teen, which is hard to do when you’ve got liberal parents who want you to “express” yourself. (Multiple piercings and pink hair!) As I got older, I found the best way to rebel is by being a conservative. I’ve got an uncle that won’t even talk to me!
But these days, I live in DC with a normal hair color and my little laptop.
2. I have probably heard you give voice to the term “big tent” in reference to the Republican Party more than any other of my Twitter friends. What do you mean by this?
I don’t mean it in the “abandon-conservative-principles-so-we-can-win-against-liberals” way. I believe part of it is welcoming people into the big tent of the GOP who may not believe they’re welcome there…and showing others that conservative principles aren’t the cartoon version the media would like to portray.
I know gay business owners who are more interested in lower taxes than in gay marriage. I know Hispanics who are more at home with Republican cultural values, but have been told they must vote Democrat. I think the GOP big tent is a way of breaking the liberal stereotypes of the GOP as “all-male-and-all-pale!” We’re now a party more welcoming of women than the Democrats and I think that’s a great change that will pay real political dividends.
3. What does being a conservative mean to you and when did you realize you weren’t a liberal?
The rocker-chick in me wants to say, “F*** the government!” right now, but kidding aside, it means putting more faith in the minds and hearts of people than in the plans and policies of governments. It means understanding that the world is a flawed place and it can be a hard place, but that there is an essential goodness in the world that government often hinders rather than fosters. It means realizing that government isn’t an improvement on, but rather an impediment to what individuals, families, small businesses and all the other institutions that used to be more important can become!
4. I’m fascinated by what I know of the work you do for the conservative cause. Tell us what you can about it, including the relevant personalities involved and how you entered the field?
I’m a utility infielder for conservative candidates and causes. I write and produce media, speeches and campaign strategy. I hold the hands of nervous candidates. I try to communicate in a way that is lively and interesting, even if it isn’t always in the traditional political vernacular.
I entered politics just after college. I was working for a campaign on Long Island and had the chance to work with Rick Wilson on a campaign in New York City after we were introduced by a mutual candidate friend. (Only in politics would you hear that phrase!) Rick had worked for Rudy Giuliani and was involved in campaigns all over the country as a media consultant and strategist. I learned a lot from his take-no-prisoners style…especially to not take politics personally.
I moved to D.C. a few years later, working in association public affairs, then spent a cycle at a large ad agency, which was, sadly, more oriented to its own bureaucracy than it was invested in winning races. I’ve found that the more like a campaign an organization is, the more effective and the more interesting it is. Now, I’m writing and producing ads and speeches for political clients, and looking forward to November 2!
5. What are some of your favorites in life: books, movies, musical artists, TV shows, vacation spots, hobbies, foods…and other miscellaneous items from which you derive happiness?
Hobbies: The New York Yankees, working out, politics, collecting vintage handbags, cooking and baking. (As many tweeps can testify, my cupcakes are amazing!)
TV shows: The Golden Girls, Mad Men, Modern Family and, of course, “House!” (It’s not “Lupus!”)
Vacation spots: Spain. I could live happily in the Spanish countryside.
Food: Indian, Italian and French all the way!
I also like puppies.
6. You’ve told me you’re an open book and based on many conversations, I have no reason to dispute that! Accordingly, what is your perspective on the influence of the “Religious Right” (i.e., folks like me!) on the conservative movement?
First, I’m not an evangelical. As a Jewish girl raised in an extended Catholic family in New York, I admittedly don’t have some of the cultural connections to the Religious Right that someone else might. But after moving to D.C., I was reminded that a lot of the stereotypes about Evangelicals were a product of the media message you get 24/7 growing up in the Northeast. I think the conservative movement has been shaped in part by the evangelical movement, and as the more libertarian and economic conservative issues come to the forefront, I think they’re shaping evangelicals. One big happy Center-Right family!
7. Who are 3 people, whether low-profile or celebrities, who have positively influenced you in a lasting way and how did they do it? Conversely, who are 3 others whom you despise…and why?
I “heart” these three (3):
Rudy Giuliani. Growing up in New York City, I can remember when it was the scariest place on earth. It was dirty and dangerous and people moving out to Long Island came with horror stories. Nothing worked; everything was a mess and taxes were sky-high. But then, when I was about 14, I started hearing about Rudy. The cleanup of New York was so remarkable that within a few years, it wasn’t a big thing for a teenage Long Island girl to hop on the Long Island Railroad for Manhattan. Rudy was the first Republican I ever identified as a Republican, and for me he was the can-do lesson of what a real leader looked like: always in action, always decisive…not perfect, but active and always putting people first.
Chris Christie, who is willing to take on entrenched liberal interest groups in a blue state.
Rick Perry: a man’s man, who shows that economic leadership counts.
The Despised Three:
Charlie Crist, the traitor who gives politics a bad name.
Steve Nash. I don’t care how many times he’s been MVP; he still flops like a little, tiny girl.
Michael Moore. I love propaganda, but he misses the point that the best propaganda is based on truth, whereas his is just based on whatever left-wing theory of the day catches his attention.
8. You are SO outgoing…probably one of the most popular people I follow on Twitter because you’re an interesting and avid conversationalist. Have you always been like this or were you shy, once upon a time?
Picture this: Fort Worth Texas, 1985. Our plane was held up on the runway and we had been waiting for hours. Folks were getting restless. I decided it would be a good idea to entertain the airplane with my rendition of the NY Tourist Board’s classic, “I Love New York.” (I received rave reviews!)
So yes, I’ve always been outgoing. I used to stand up at the table and sing for guests… “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina”, from Evita, was a favorite. I was in the drama club in high school and voted “Most Unique.”
9. Are you involved in politics for the possibilities that it offers, in terms of advancing beliefs or because it suits your abilities? How will either one be impacted if the Republicans do phenomenally well in a few days, as it appears they will?
I’m involved in politics for both altruistic and selfish reasons. First, it’s a way I can help steer the national conversation, even in a small fashion, in a direction of more economic and personal freedom for everyone. If the GOP does as well as we hope in the coming weeks, I want to help chart a course for people I advise that really makes big, sweeping differences in the way America works. That Newsweek headline just after the election, “We’re All Socialists Now”? Well, let’s just say I want to make sure no one ever believes THAT again.
10. Tell us about 3 memorable life experiences so far, as well as 3 goals that remain on your list.
1. Meeting Rudy Giuliani and having the privilege of working for him (and hearing him deliver lines I wrote for him!)
2. Sitting on the White House Lawn while then-President Bush signed a bill into law… that I helped to get passed!
3. Winning my first campaign
As for goals:
1.Get elected to office
2. Become the first female player for the New York Yankees
3. Go to Japan. Why Japan? For the sushi, Hello Kitty and ROBOTS!