Thursday, July 23, 2015
Let's be clear. Donald Trump is not running for President. Donald Trump is running for World's Most Confrontational Circus Clown. That said, I consider it a testament to my personal branding that as soon as this Donald Trump Insult Generator went viral, I got a flood of Facebook messages. I'm hesitant to blog about his many ridiculous exploits 1) because it perpetuates an air of legitimacy and 2) because there are too damn many to keep up with, but when there is humor in elections there I am.
I don't know who this Nancy Leeds is, but he should be ashamed of himself.
Sunday, July 19, 2015
Earlier this week, President Obama became the first US President to visit a federal prison (really? yes) and also made a very important comment in a speech to the NAACP's 2015 National Convention, “If folks have served their time, and they’ve re-entered society, they should be able to vote.”
From Vox: 5.8 million Americans weren't legally allowed to vote due to their criminal records in 2012, according to data analyzed by the Sentencing Project. Several states prohibited 6 to 11 percent of their electorate from voting. And since black Americans are likelier to go to prison, this had a disproportionate impact on the African-American electorate: While the overall disenfranchisement rate didn't break 11 percent for any state, the black disenfranchisement rate topped 20 percent in Florida, Kentucky, and Virginia.
The link between the systematic disenfranchisement and systematic incarceration of black people is real and harrowing. It is not an accident and it is not a coincidence. It is not that far a leap from other measures that have been used to reach the same ends. Breaking the link won't cure a racist system, but it is an important step. Watch for this issue moving forward and ask your candidates about it in 2016. I'm going to leave you with a quote from President Obama's NAACP speech.
“Today I’ve been talking about the criminal justice system, but we have to recognize that it’s not something that we can view in isolation. Any system that allows us to turn a blind eye to hopelessness and despair—that’s not a justice system. It’s an injustice system. But that’s an extension and a reflection of some broader decisions that we’re making as a society. And that has to change.”
Saturday, July 18, 2015
In the video above, Republican Presidential Carly Fiorina helps illustrate common instances of sexism in the workplace. As many comments have pointed out, Fiorina might better serve women by supporting pro-woman policies than making BuzzFeed videos, but that doesn't make the examples in the video any less real or relevant.
In fact, I came across the BuzzFeed video when I did a Google Search on Carly Fiorina to make sure she was still in the Presidential race. I had just read this article about human dumpster fire Donald Trump saying John McCain is not a war hero because he was a POW (wow) and noticed that it included a reaction from every GOP Presidential hopeful besides Fiorina. (I hate you, Politico.) Carly Fiorina, I do not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it without facing sexism. Why? See the below comment on the BuzzFeed video.
Look you know I'm supporting Hillary, and also that I would vote for Bernie Sanders over Carly Fiorina (or any Republican) in a heartbeat (and also that men can and should be vocal Feminists), but "We don't need a female Presidential candidate to be a role model for women in the workplace because we need men to do it" is about the worst argument I have ever heard and sort belies its own point. And speaking of points, here is mine: sexism in politics hurts everyone even when it's aimed at our opposition and it is never okay.
Sunday, July 5, 2015
As an organizer for John Edwards in 2008, identity politics was not my friend. In particular, I was routinely frustrated by women's insistence on caucusing for Hillary Clinton (and challenging my choice to support of Edwards) despite the fact that I felt Edwards had been and would be a greater champion for women. Eight years later, with a Master's Certificate in Gender and Public Policy, I can see how wrong I was.
When people accuse me of supporting Hillary Clinton because she's a woman it's often meant pejoratively, the implication being that my reason is shallow, ill-considered or frivolous. Having spent the past 10 years both as a woman in politics and studying women in politics, I can promise you it is anything but. Yes, I support Hillary because she is a woman and frankly I think you should too.
Before you ask, that does NOT mean I would would vote for Carly Fiorina or Michelle Bachmann. The truth is that the Republican Party by and large does not support the rights of women. I have no intention of supporting politicians who do not support me, my rights, or those of others. In a paper I wrote in graduate school in 2012, I found that states with legislatures holding Democratic majorities favored maternity and childcare policies that supported working women while legislatures holding Republican majorities did not, irrespective of the percent of women legislators. Yet, research has reliably shown that female legislators are more likely to prioritize issues that impact women than are their male counterparts. One could theorize that Republican women could do as much or more than Republican men to jeopardize the rights of women, depending on the policy.
In the interest of full disclosure I will share that neither did I support a run by Elizabeth Warren. I am huge fan of Senator Warren, but setting aside the fact that she publicly declared that she was not interested in running, I did and do not believe her to be a viable Presidential candidate in the 2016 general election. I also believe the presence of two women in this year's Democratic primary fight would diminish the chances of either securing the nomination.
I think it's fair to assume that most readers of this blog will support the Democratic nominee for President no matter who s/he is. Whether your first choice or your last it's a good bet that whoever the Democrats choose as our standard bearer will represent your interests better than whomever is chosen by the Republicans. Yet when I wake up in the morning even before I am conscious that I am a Democrat, I am a woman. So why is it so much easier to accept me as a Yellow Dog Democrat than a Pink one?
Perhaps the fact that we have never had a woman President is the best argument as to why we need one. It is no coincidence that there is a staggering political ambition gap between men and women. In order to want to run for office and eventually ascend to the highest office in the land, women need to see role models who remind them of themselves. What does it look like for a woman to be President? Asking why so few women aspire to run for office or are recruited to run for office is like asking why so few women aspire to colonize Mars. Without a rubric or precedent or role models, why would it even occur to them? It's vicious cycle to be sure, but if women's political ambition is the egg, Hillary is the proverbial chicken cracking the eggshell/glass ceiling.
Until we have had more female chief executives, there will be little reliable research on their character as a group. However, we do know that as legislators women are more likely than men to address long under-prioritized issues that impact women, including reproductive justice, breast cancer research, equal pay, and military rape to name a few. It is worth noting that Hillary Clinton specifically mentions paid family leave and equal pay on the issues page of her website, whereas Bernie Sanders does not. Considering the amount of time I spend worrying about soft sexism and violence against women, I want a President who gets it.
Women legislators are more likely to reach across the aisle, more responsive to constituent requests, and more likely to sponsor legislation. It is easy to conclude that a female chief executive would be similarly effective. Margaret Thatcher, Benazir Bhutto and Indira Gandhi, for example are among their respective countries' most memorable and transformative Prime Ministers. Of course what is true is of women in general is not necessarily true of one woman in particular, but as clicking on the links above will help demonstrate, Hillary Clinton is far from the exception to these rules.
Apart from her gender, Clinton is exceptionally qualified. She is a Yale educated lawyer and children's advocate. Yes, she was first lady of the United States, (a position of diplomatic and political import, especially the way she held it, that should not be trivialized and discounted), but she is also an effective and accomplished former US Senator and Secretary of State. Given the extra scrutiny applied to women in the public eye, Clinton's biography is doubly impressive. Her resilience in the face of public inquiry into her marriage, media sexism during her 2008 Presidential campaign, and decades of partisan witch hunts prove not only her viability, but a strength of character that is extremely desirable in a Commander in Chief.
If you remain unconvinced to support Hillary Clinton for President in 2016, that is your right. But at very least I demand that you accept the validity of my choice and reasons for supporting her. For the overwhelming bulk of our country's history women were barred, on the basis of our gender, from becoming President either explicitly or implicitly. Consider my insistence on supporting the first viable woman for the office (who also happens to be the most qualified) a minor attempt to level the playing field.