Last year was quite an experience as I was encouraged to run for Minnesota Governor. While ultimately I decided not to run, during that process, I was flooded with questionnaires from organizations seeking my views or trying to influence my opinions. One of the things which surprised me, though, is the nature of the questions I was asked by some organizations.
What particularly caught my eye was a questionnaire from a “Women’s” group. What were the questions? The majority of them were about abortion, gay marriage, and how much we should expand big government spending.
In the midst of the deepest recession in living memory and international uncertainties, those don’t strike me — or most people — as the issues keeping women (or men) up at night.
Where were the ideas of economic freedom and economic opportunity? Where were the questions about challenges that women business owners face in small business start-ups which are the mainstay of Main Streets throughout the country? Where were the questions about the national debt and its impact on our children’s future? Where were the questions about how we best educate the children of our country so that we have a qualified and well positioned workforce? This list goes on and on.
This self-described “women’s” group and many like it are more interested in litmus tests on liberal social issues than on what will materially improve women’s lives in the real day-to-day world where we are raising kids, struggling to make ends meet, and hoping that we or our spouses don’t lose their job (or will find one soon).
For decades now we have talked about the glass ceiling women once faced, and to a certain extent still do. But I am more worried about the glass box that liberal feminists have placed women and “women’s issues” in, all tied up with a pretty pink bow. That glass box is all about keeping women and “women’s issues” firmly in their place on the left side of the political spectrum.
Well, I for one, think that the real opportunity for female candidates and officeholders is not to define themselves as concerned about these supposed “women’s issues,” but instead to focus on the bread and butter issues that concern everybody in these troubling times.
The feminists of the past and present should be appalled that these self proclaimed women’s groups are doing in relegating the support of women to second tier or third tier issues which will not design a successful future for our country no matter what your political leanings might suggest that means. Finding and supporting strong, smart, and bold women of diverse thought ought to at least be as important or even more important to a feminist group claiming to support women candidates.
It should not be a surprising that women are actually very free thinking, engaged in complex issues in different ways, have significant experience and varied backgrounds, and don’t all think alike—what a shock! California, for example, has two very strong women running for office. California candidates Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman exemplify what women’s groups should want in their candidates: strength, experience, tenacity, capability, and individuality. Liz Cheney and Sarah Palin are further examples of strong women who test the bounds of traditional thought. Whether you agree with them or not on policy, it is clear these are all women who do not easily fall in line with the social agenda of the left — or the establishment on the right– for that matter.
Women’s groups have attacked these high profile women, and others like them, who are not playing nice by being a typical female politician who will politely stay within the little glass box of issues pre-packaged up for them by the left. These women will shatter that little glass box and the step beyond the typical toward the possible.
Unfortunately, too many women’s groups attack candidates –women candidates– with excessive and stunning vitriol, if the candidates dare disagree with their group’s social agenda. Rather than lash out, they should be focused on encouraging diversity of thought by women and strong debate rather with than squelching it.
Liberal women’s groups seem to have an affinity for something akin to a Stepford Wife – a female candidate who will simply fall in line and think alike rather than female candidates who might challenge that agenda and take on the political establishment through varying experience and approach.
It is time groups like this think of women as true candidates with an important set of skills to bring to the table rather than as simply a demographic to be either used or won over.
Women’s issues are everyone’s issues. Everyone’s issues are women’s issues. If feminists truly want to promote women in politics and bring a feminine touch to state capitols and to Washington DC, they should understand that not all women think alike—that is something they should cherish, not lament. Then, women candidates will have succeeded and the country will win by having women of all political viewpoints at the table.