Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The DNC must quit playing games with women!

(Courtesy of equalrepresentation.org)     Subscribe in a reader

Thanks to my good audiences at both Miami's Temple Israel and the Miami Shores Brockway Memorial Library in recent weeks. All were gracious and mostly taken aback by the facts of the matter of gross under-representation of women in the U.S. Congress.

Yet, there is a lingering question: Should we/can we force the issue in our democracy or do we just have to wait for the not foreseeable attainment of equal representation -- without taking any of the affirmative action measures used by all but 2 of the 24 countries that have exceeded the 30 percent benchmark goal for real progress in electing women. Those countries -- including Sweden, Argentina, South Africa, Spain and Germany -- either passed legislation or their political parties made voluntary rule changes in order to accelerate the election of women to congresses, parliaments, or assemblies.

That question brings to mind a conversation a few weeks ago with Democratic National Committee Treasurer Andrew Tobias. For about 10 years I have been asking Andy when his party will do something concrete to elect MORE women to Congress. Asking, informing, cajoling, and, yes, sometimes demanding. Maybe that is why he looked at me wearily and tried to keep that empty chair next to him under his control. Didn't work.

Maybe Andy was having a bad day, or maybe he is under undue pressure re the campaign to re-elect Barack Obama and his top-rated bundling efforts. Or maybe he was just showing his true colors - like many who profess to be for women's rights, but when it comes down to action there are always other more important needs and related justifications. Blah, blah, blah. We call that "lip service," but maybe we now need stronger words.

(Andy, by the way, is "a good guy." But being a good guy is not good enough when you can't/won't help deliver a most basic right: equality for women. His long-time service as DNC Treasurer since 1999 -- including being thick with former Chair Howard Dean -- has delivered clout to the gay community. And I do mean gay. The LGBT event we were at was at least 85% men. And please don't forget the picture in the New York Times from a "gay" event at the White House last June, when the only woman in the room seemed to be the subject of an 18th century portrait.)

Andy's main argument for progress was the appointment of 2 women to the Supreme Court. I had read Andy's email to friends/Democrats regarding the importance of re-electing Barack Obama, when he also mentioned his trip to Obama Headquarters in Chicago where he became convinced that the president would be re-elected. Yes, the Dems have their hands full; but that is NO excuse for the continuous lack of concrete, quantifiable action to get more women elected to Congress. The appointments of Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan were for the betterment of all and a great achievement for women -- not to be confused with seats in the U.S. Congress where many of the most-important, far-reaching decisions effecting our everyday lives are made. Just imagine the upcoming debates on Medicare with a Congress of only 16.8 percent women and with no women representatives from 20 of our 50 states!

Here's the bottom line: Either you believe in the political importance and moral imperative of parity in Congress or you don't.

If you do, you (political parties/their leaders) must take action to make it happen. Action means changing archaic party rules used as excuses and coming up with a quantifiable plan with concrete goals - say for achieving that 30 percent by 2020, the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage.

If you don't, just say no and quit playing games with women.

-- then click HERE to access "SMOKE & MIRRORS: The Truth About the Political Status of U.S. Women" on smashwords.com..