Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Backlash against women in office?

I was at a training last night hosted by the Marin Women's Political Action Committee. We're an organization helping women run and win elective offices. We endorse, give money and train our candidates. Men are welcome at our trainings and may be recommended if they meet our criteria (pro-choice, will help with women's issues, will help mentor women running for office and so forth), but only if no qualified women are running. Qualified means meets the above stated criteria.
                                              Is this the "Cabal" or maybe it's a Coven some men are so afraid of?
A woman who is running for a local board told this story:

"I met with a man yesterday from one of the local agencies and asked for his support. Smiling all the while, he said, sorry, I cannot support you because if you win there will be a female majority board."

Taken aback, she said, "Why is that a problem for you?"

Still smiling the man said, "Because then you would be able to put in your agenda."

"Our agenda?" she asked. "Did you feel this way about the male majority board? Is there a male agenda?"

He just kept on smiling. One of the two women presently serving on that board said, "I bet he was just picturing us gathering in the woods, stirring our brew and singing "Double double, toil and trouble, let's reduce the men to rubble." Then she cackled and we all had another glass of wine.

This is the most overt example of male bias against women in office (women in power) that I've encountered in this supposedly liberal bastion I call home.  But really, don't we see it all the time?  Why do they call women "sluts" for doing what they (men) think is perfectly normal for them - having sex, having power.

Power is what it's all about, and women seizing political power may be just one step too far for many men.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Make History - Vote! Two Historic Legislative decisions won on a single vote

Today marks the date in 1920 that Tennessee became the 36th State to ratify the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote. One vote in the Legislature made the difference, a young man everyone thought was on the other side, a young man with a telegram from his mother in his pocket, Representative Harry Burn, switched sides with a vote that broke a deadlock and changed history.
How much difference can YOUR one vote make? A lot. For another historic one-vote decision that made history, a young legislator from Peabody Massachusetts changed his vote and broke a tie vote that would have reinstated the death penalty in Massachusetts in 1997. Visiting the home of my youth, I was in the gallery that day to watch the brave John P. Slattery from working class Peabody reverse course and vote not to reinstate. To this day, attempts to bring back the death penalty to Massachusetts have failed. (So far. Mitt Romney as governor tried to change the rules and a bill this year following the Marathon bombings was shelved after much bickering in the Legislature.)

Who's to say what would have happened if these courageous men hadn't bucked the tide that was sweeping through their respective States at the time?

As a campaign consultant, I have seen several close votes. I have seen elections where the vote change by few votes between election night and the time the final votes were counted from every last late vote-by-mail ballot, sometimes a full two weeks after Election Day. Your one vote could be one of these. Make it count.

Labor Day marks the beginning of campaign season. Even in these "off" years, there are elections for school boards, city councils and special districts (sewer, water, community service, etc.) Don't wait until the last minute. Save those flyers, read those editorials and attend those public forums. Your one vote just might make a historic difference in your town.