Sunday, April 30, 2006

who and what do charles shumer and emmanuel rahm really serve?

Letter to the Editors of The New York Times --

Thanks, I think, for “Democratic Hard Chargers Try to Return Party to Power” (4-30-06), which sent a shudder up my spine on several levels. Surely there are candidates out there who are either: 1) extremely angry because all the money and support is being funneled once-again to select candidates; 2) feverishly trying to “toe the line” as Senator Shumer put it; or 3) desperately trying make it on to the second Red-to-Blue list of favored candidates, no matter how many people around them are thrown by the wayside.

Of course, both Shumer and Congressman Rahm will be hailed as heroes if the Democrats win back the House or Senate – but still questions must be asked. Given the description of both men’s election activities and management styles, one must wonder what they have been doing for the people who elected them. Will newly-minted members of Congress really represent their constituents or forever be party leadership groupies? Are the usually rude and arrogant campaign operatives being foisted on districts that good or just part of the deal? Why are these campaign efforts structured for all-intents-and-purposes through the halls of Congress, anyway?

Some campaigns may be won in the short-term, but our democracy is not being served – and serious reform is needed not only on the money end.

Paula Xanthopoulou

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

"getting even" requires activism and a goal!

yesterday was equal pay day (april 25th), and today life goes on as usual -- or does it?

attention was paid to a book entitled "getting even" written by evelyn murphy, who also happens to be the first woman elected to statewide office in massachusetts (1986, lieut. governor). she says that women haven't gotten their fair share of wages and perks largely because they have not asked for them! furthermore, she has set a goal of ten years to effect real change -- using loosley formed "wage clubs" throughout the country on various levels as a vehicle to get women together to talk, strategize, and act.

when i met up with ms. murphy at a local bookstore last month, she seemed delighted that i was behind a similar concept in 5050X2020 -- a 14-year campaign to achieve equal representation. we agreed that women had to step up and ask for what we are entitled as hard-working, tax-paying citizens. (we also noted that the ten mass congressional seats are all held by white, democrat men.)

"to get paid like men, women and men must put pressure on chief executives -- to make women's pay fair," Ms. Murphy has said. right on! to get out fair share of seats in congress, women and men must put pressure on the political powers-that-be -- party leaders, elected officials, past presidents, et al!

we need groups of women in both parties meeting in all 435 congressional districts to talk about what we have in common, strategies to achieve 5050X2020, and action that adds more women to congress rather than fighting each other. how about meeting as informal "kitchen cabinets", as many as needed in whatever permutation women choose -- to include women of all stripes in the conversation and the campaign for equal representation. 5050X2020 must be a forward-looking, bipartisan effort -- not just so-called "women's movement" business as usual.

what do you think?

Monday, April 03, 2006

now we're talking!!

an article by caitlin johnson, "shifting balance: where are the women?" drew these words from white house project guru marie wilson: "Wilson said she would like to see the United States develop a quota system similar to the one in South Africa, in which 30 percent of parliament seats must go to women. Even the new governments in Iraq and Afghanistan have quotas that put a higher ratio of women in government than currently serve in the United States," Wilson said. "When you have a quota system, then you start to hold people's feet to the fire," she said. "Here all we can do is hope for political will -- to become the democracy that we are asking other countries to be."

it's not often that women leaders come out and say what so many others are thinking -- one of those things that has been holding us back. what on earth do we have to lose? women do too much work and give too much money to politicians to just continue to sit back waiting for godot. we need to ask for what is fair, or else reconsider our blind political loyalties. i would like to see both major political parties voluntarily change their rules -- at least until 2020 -- to facilitate more women to running and winning open seats, for example. do we really need a constitutional amendment?

but if the good 'ol boyz can't manage to do what's right, we may. how about a constitutional amendment requiring one female and one male u.s. senator from each state? that would not only level the playing field in the upper house according to gender population figures, but make sure that no states will ever again lack representation for women. currently, 19 states have no women in either house of congress!

(didn't they use to call that "taxation without representation?")