“I hate politics,” Allen said.
State Sen. Diane Allen, a Moorestown High School graduate, returned to her alma mater last month to speak to the MHS Human Rights Club about women, politics and democracy.
Allen, who represents New Jersey’s 7th Legislative District, has served on the New Jersey Relations Council, the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission and was a delegate for the Republican National Convention.
Born in New Jersey, Allen has also been a Sunday school teacher, award-winning television news journalist, mother, pilot and hang-glider, according to the New Jersey Senate Republican Office.
“Women truly are the rising force in politics,” Allen said to the club. “It’s important that the men in the room listen closely too because you have mothers and sisters and someday, maybe daughters.”
The Human Rights Club focuses on current happenings, meaningful historic events and is comprised of students from all grade levels with a passion for advocacy.
“One of our members suggested reaching out to Sen. Allen when we first started brainstorming for International Women’s Day,” club President Skylar Fox said. “She’s done amazing things throughout her career, and as chair of the National Foundation for Women Legislators, has worked hard to stand by women and fight with them.”
Allen spoke of the danger of a white male-dominated legislature, saying this is a recipe for underrepresentation.
“I believe strongly that we need to reflect the people we represent. If you have, for instance, an old, white male legislature, as has been the case for most of history in the country, you’re going to get legislation that reflects their background, their way of viewing things, their ideas on what’s important,” Allen said. “Many of those things are good, but you’re not going to get what’s important to 50 percent of the population — women. You’re not going to get what’s important to people of color, necessarily.”
Allen went on to say until the legislature is truly reflective, there isn’t much of a democracy. She also provided the caveat that she has nothing against old white men — after all, she is married to one.
Allen’s view on politics isn’t quite what one might expect from someone who has been involved with government for decades.
“I hate politics,” Allen said, emphasizing she’s a legislator, not a politician. “Politics is the cruddy stuff around the edges.”
Allen also spoke of her journalism career and the obstacles she overcame, once being fired for refusing to lead a news broadcast with her boss’ daughter’s engagement.
“[Allen] was very open and extremely honest, and it’s not often that we get to talk at length about women in politics within our classrooms,” said Fox, a senior who has been involved with the Human Rights Club since she was a freshman. “Having a positive role model like her come to our school will stick with many students for a long time, and maybe she inspired some of those students to venture into politics, too.”
Allen will retire from her political career this year as she has chosen to not seek re-election in November.