David Baldwin Barnes is a young Washington political and social climber. He is also a man of both substance and style. We had the occasion to spend five minutes with Baldwin – as he is called by many – in between his meetings to discuss foreign policy and before dashing off to drink domestic beer at another hip Hill holiday reception.
S&S asked – What is the one thing you love most about working in politics?
Baldwin Said – My mother told me she raised me to “eat with princess and sleep with paupers.” The ability to interact with some of the most influential people in the country, and across the world, and gain knowledge and resources to help those without is the most satisfying part of working in politics. There’s a lot of red tape and egos to deal with, but when I can help someone it’s all worth it.
S&S asked – If every woman should have a little black dress, what should every man have?
Baldwin Said – Every man should have a gray blazer— not a gray suit jacket without the pants, mind you. Most people say a blue blazer, but I think they have a limited palate to create. You can make a gray blazer very formal or extremely casual. It can be worn all seasons, with a button down or t-shirt, jeans or slacks, shoes or sneakers, lights and darks, and a variety of patterns… gotta have one.
S&S asked – What do you see as the next big foreign policy issue the US will have to address in 2010?
Baldwin said – Iran’s political state and nuclear engagement will continue to be a major issue for the US and the rest of the world. But I think that China’s growing influence in the international community will be one of the most important issues the US has to confront.
China is inevitably the next global power— from their growing economy, their foothold in international markets, to their influence to sway the course of North Korea and possibly Iran, and their increased engagement in developing nations, especially in Africa, to their impact on the global environment. What will be interesting though is the affect that great civil unrest in China will have on their government. The Chinese people are becoming more empowered to speak out against their government as China continues to gain the attention of the world— it’s as much a platform for the people as it is the government.
S&S asked – You are an avid reader, what was the best book you read in 2009?
Baldwin Said – Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. People are often unaware of how their subconscious influences their day-to-day behavior, and Gladwell points out the strengths and weaknesses of split second decisions based on our subconscious.
A topic that I’ve passionately written about is how the media influences our perceptions of culture and how that affects our behavior (see my post on BaldwinSaid). I believe that the media is the biggest educational system of culture, and unfortunately they do a terrible job of presenting accurate images of the non-dominant culture. Many people often only interact with those within their cultural group and the majority of what they learn about other cultures comes from the media. This creates a dynamic where people’s interactions with minority cultures are subconsciously dictated by the images presented to them in the media. This can only be changed by incorporating more diversity within the executive offices of media companies and eliciting quality programming from more minority production companies.
S&S asked – Where is the best place to cocktail while overhearing tales about who is who in Washington?
Baldwin Said – Everybody thinks they’re somebody in DC, so anywhere you go you’ll hear those conversations— although the veracity of the banter is usually questionable. But a place I really enjoy going for cocktails (I’m a creature of habit, so I usually stick with a nice Tennessee Whiskey) is my neighborhood bar The Looking Glass. It is a great place, has a great crowd of people, and my neighborhood has the most character in the city… stop by sometime.