In Praise of Strong Women

January 8, 2019

It was bound to happen as 100 women entered Congress and presidential hopefuls followed in the footsteps of Hillary Clinton. What has happened is media pundits, election strategists and old white guys begin to question the suitability of women for high office in government. Already Elizabeth Warren has a ” likability” problem, Bronx Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is denounced as a dancing flake, and Michigan Representative Rashid Tlaib is castigated for having a potty mouth (and worse yet from a woman of Palestinian heritage). This is only the beginning of the campaign to question whether women are ready to run government and hold power.

What this avalanche of criticism is really about stems from the fact that the old boy network feels threatened as women question the male approach to governing, offer new policy prescriptions for the nation, and most importantly show no fear of speaking their mind. Many of these guys hate it when women challenge their knowledge and authority or worse yet vie for political power. The era of nit wit Democrats and Republicans in political office is likely over but that doesn’t mean  these guys won’t go down without a fight.

It is of course refreshing to have women in power and offering new solutions to desperate problems. More importantly, it is vitally important to have voices in this country talk about children, health care, education and income inequity rather than how much will be spent on a new aircraft carrier,  how to justify excessive corporate welfare or defend deregulating the banking industry.

Now having women play a larger role in our governing system does not mean that this country is on the way back from near political suicide. These women are politicians, and many novice politicians; they will make mistakes in judgment, offer unworkable solutions, fail to keep their word, and embarrass themselves in public venues. They may be a refreshing change of pace but their presence in government is only one piece of a complex puzzle of change.

But one thing is certainly true – having women in government, strong women in power offers some hope that the old ways of doing the business of our nation will at the very minimum be questioned if not changed. I am reminded of Bob Dylan’s famous lines from the song The Times They Are A-Changing, which appropriately fit the rise of strong women:

Come senators, congressmen please heed the call

Don’t stand in the doorway, don’t block up the hall

For he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled

There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’

It will soon shake your windows and rattle your walls

For the times they are a-changin.

 

Good Luck Strong Women.

 

 

 

 

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Women Rule

November 8, 2017

Much has been made of the victory of the Democratic Party in Virginia and the impact of the message it sends to Republicans and President Trump. The real story of the election returns both in Virginia and elsewhere, however,  is the rise of women to positions of governmental responsibility and leadership. This could be the beginning of the Year of the Woman in American politics.

In Virginia 12 of the 16 seats that flipped Democratic in the House of Delegates were won by women. In my home state of Massachusetts two women who were first-time candidates won elections for mayor, one over a guy who said that his opponent was a stay at home mom while he had a full time job. Talk about a huge sexist miscalculation.

But besides the victories of women, there is mounting evidence that the ol’ boys club of politics may be facing  more and more female challengers.  Organizations such as Emily’s List and She Should Run are reporting that there are thousands of women who have expressed an interest in running for political office. With the victories in the Virginia election, the number of women seeking to enter the governmental fray will likely increase even more.

This burst of female political energy was bound to happen not just because of recent sexual harassment charges, but also because women have had enough of men making public policy decisions on equal pay, contraception, workplace advancement and health care.  Male office holders running for re-election against a woman in 2018 should be very scared. What’s that old saying about ” Hell hast no fury, then a woman scorned.” Hillary will not be the first female president of our country but her legacy may be encouraging the sisterhood to take up the fight for woman power.

Now before this analysis of women in politics gets out of hand, men still dominate the governing landscape and turning the tables on generations of male control is not going to happen with one election cycle. The ol’ boys will still be around suggesting that these female entrants to politics are novices who aren’t ready for “prime time.”  But what the ol’ boys don’t understand is that they may be up against a political movement that will be difficult to stop. The Tea Party was a movement, Trumpism was a movement and now Women Rule may just be the new movement destined to shape our politics and the direction of our country. Women got the right to vote in 1920; 2018 and beyond may be the time for women to get governing power.