But now, Stanley is among the last of a dying breed of moderates in an increasingly polarized political jungle. Over the course of her career, the nature of political discourse began to change and people began to take sides. Before long, the middle ground virtually disappeared, and common sense disappeared along with it, she said.
“Politics has been said to be the art of compromise, but I would say it’s not an art, but a battle, and it’s a battle to be able to get things done,” Stanley said. “There are times now when we’d rather be ideologically pure than to say, ‘we’ve got to get this done.’”
Mastering the rules
Stanley spoke about the hierarchy that exists within the Statehouse and how in order to be an effective legislator, one has to learn the rules of the game quickly and play by those rules in order to get things done on their district’s behalf.
On Beacon Hill, the hierarchy is anything but subtle, Stanley said, and she found herself on every rung of the ladder at some point during her career.
At the height of her tenure, Stanley had an extravagant office on the third floor of the Statehouse, complete with mahogany bookshelves, a couch, a “fabulous” writing desk and even a chandelier. Her office was so big that guests would have to walk 30 or 40 feet from the door just to reach her desk.
The message was clear; if you had a third-floor office, you were powerful.
But as Stanley fell out of favor with her party’s leadership, she was bumped to a more mundane office on the second floor, and eventually she was banished all the way to the basement, where she remains to this day.
“I have the office that’s the farthest from the chamber,” she said. “We have fans going 24 hours a day because it’s either way too hot or way too cold. I can’t have any plants because there is no light.”