Known for her tart tongue and her tears (when she announced that she wouldn’t run for president in 1988), Patricia Schroeder, the U.S. representative from Colorado for 24 years, knew how to get things done in Congress, including the passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act. She championed women’s issues but would not be pigeonholed. Military waste, free speech, foreign policy, education–she cared about it and she talked about it. She never had a role model. Now she is one.

“I remember being a lawyer in Denver and going down to the courthouse to pick up some subpoenas. And they said, ‘What are you going to use these for, party invitations? We don’t want you to have them; we don’t think you’re a lawyer.’”

“There was always the feeling that you were the mascot or that you were supposed to be so grateful for being [in Congress]–that any crumbs that fell off the table, you were going to do back flips over.”

“I figured if somebody sat there and kept pointing out where the waste was, maybe someday someone would have enough courage to stand up and whack away at it, and we’d have some money for something else.”

“I think that right now it’s very cool not to want to be in politics. And if you’re going to be in public service, it’s like you’re going to write the memos, you’re going to be behind the scenes, be George Stephanopolous or something like that. I just think that’s the silliest thing I ever heard. That means you’re just going to end up electing bozos. And you’re going to write memos for them, but it won’t make any difference, because they don’t read.”

“Out West we say: You know a person by their enemy.”

“I’m finally to the point where I say, You know what? [Abortion] is a young person’s fight. Maybe they’re right; maybe we’re perfectly safe. Why am I going to keep marching and screaming, when they’re all looking at me like, Oh, you’re one of those crazy feminists like my mother.”

“It’s a culture where Barbie’s still the number one icon of women, which absolutely flattens me. I can’t believe in 2002 that’s still going on. I suppose there are still people wanting to believe that Prince Charming is riding over the hill, and if they get their Mrs. degree, they’ll be taken care of forever.”

“Any time you try to open doors, you always get criticism from women saying, ‘Well, why are you doing that?'”

“They had a huge study on aging. They did not have one woman in the study–like we didn’t exist. So those things would just continually blow me away, and I couldn’t understand why women weren’t just raging about this stuff.”

“One thing I knew was if women members of Congress didn’t push these issues, these issues wouldn’t happen.”

“It really is a young person’s game if you do it right. And I thought part of what was wrong with Congress was people stayed too long.”

“Too many people in politics say they’re realists, but then they get in and they get so carried away that they lose their perspective.”

“I could give a speech about anything and the first question would be, ‘Why are you running as a woman?'”

“I could give a speech about anything and the first question would be, ‘Why are you running as a woman?’”

“You just couldn’t write off that many people who said, ‘I don’t care who it is, I’m not voting for a woman.'”

“You’re not going to have a little cheerleader Barbie-type running for president. You wouldn’t want that in a man. Why would you want that in a woman?”

“What does a woman [politician] look like? We don’t have any image at all. They either look like a Vogue model or an unmade bed.”

“You have to go outside and be an advocate and tell people what you discovered and get them riled up.”

“You don’t wait to be asked.”

“I was doing eggs in a Teflon pan, and I literally thought, Why, this man’s [Ronald Reagan] got a Teflon coating. Nothing sticks to him. What I hoped was people would say, ‘That’s right, he has a Teflon coat, that’s really not fair,’ and the Teflon coat would be removed. But instead, everybody said, ‘That’s great. Where do I get one?'”

“I honestly think democracy is messy. But one of the things that troubles me that I hear from young people is that they don’t want to run because it’s a mess. The reason I wanted to run was because it was a mess. If you really think you’re going to run for Congress when everything is perfect, it’s never going to happen. And the day it’s perfect, we don’t need Congress.”

“Are you thinking of running?”