Nancy Santanello (PA): ‘I’m Not Into Biden’
Nancy Santanello (70), a Democrat from New Hope, PA, was raised Catholic and converted to Judaism when she married her Jewish husband. At Howard University, she was the only white woman in her medical school class. She spent most of her career at the pharmaceutical company Merck, where she led the Department of Epidemiology for 12 years. She is vocal about politics on Twitter. “Where else,” she says, “can you publicly tell President Trump that he’s a moron?”
Have you made up your mind about who to support for president?
My husband and I have provided financial support to five candidates because we want them to stay in the debates—Warren, Harris, Booker, Buttigieg and Steve Bullock, who probably doesn’t have a chance, but we wanted to support a moderate. I’m not into Biden. He makes too many gaffes and isn’t quick or witty enough. I love Warren—she really is my top choice. But I’m concerned too many people won’t vote for her. We had dinner with good friends who absolutely hate Trump, but they don’t like Warren. They think she is a shrew and too aggressive. They couldn’t really explain why.
Do you think the women candidates are held to a different standard than the men?
Unfortunately, yes. So many people in this country see the strength and toughness of women like Warren and Harris as being aggressive or whiny. In the White House, we have the whiner-in-chief, but he can bully people and name call, and he’s seen as strong.
You supported Sanders in the 2016 primary. Why aren’t you supporting him now?
The “Bernie bro” thing just left a terrible taste in my mouth. The almost cult-like, Bernie-can-do-no-wrong devotion to him reminds me of Trump. But I think my not supporting Bernie isn’t so much a reaction to him as it is to his supporters.
What three issues concern you most?
As a physician I’m very concerned about health care. I’m not crazy about Medicare-for-All because I think it will be difficult to convince people who don’t like change and want more choice. These buzzwords frighten moderates and independents. Climate change and women’s rights, particularly abortion rights, are also all really important to me. The idea of putting the sanctity of a fetus above a woman’s life is horrible. If I had a fourth issue, it would be social injustice and racism. I think Trump is a racist.
Are a candidate’s views on Israel important to you?
If a candidate was anti-Israel that would be a problem. I’ve been to Israel several times and have done research on their health-care system. I love it there. But Israel isn’t perfect, just like the United States isn’t perfect. Israel is a refuge for the Jewish population, but it is also a country with a political system that doesn’t treat all citizens equally. Of course, when the Palestinians are bombing Israel and building tunnels I’m pissed, but I’m also pissed when Jews are killing Palestinians. I’d love to see peace, but I don’t know how to achieve it. I see Trump as just using Israel and using Jews, and appealing to very Orthodox Jews and evangelicals. I find the devotion on the right to Israel from evangelicals offensive.
Does your Judaism affect your political views?
If there was an anti-Semitic candidate, yes it would. Raising Jewish children, being married to a Jewish man, heightens my awareness of anti-Semitic sentiments, tropes, memes and jokes. But before I got married and converted to Judaism, I also felt that way.
What do you think about the impeachment inquiry?
I was one of those people who was pretty aligned with Nancy Pelosi’s position that we should investigate and not go whole hog into it because Trump could use it to fire up the base. But after the Ukraine conversation, the mob boss tactics and the cover-up, I’m on board. How much of neglecting law and order and the Constitution can we put up with?