Archive for patriarchy in politics

Post Election Analysis: Colorado Midterms 2014

It’s been a few days now since Election Day and ballots continued to be counted here in Colorado. The Democrats look to hold the Colorado House of Representatives by one seat. They had a nine seat majority last session and now barely hold on to power. And the Colorado Senate is still up in the air with ballots still being counted in Adams County. A very close and contentious 2014 Election on both the local and national levels. But as the expression goes, the local is global. The political trends that we see this election year on the local level bode as bellwethers for the nationwide political trends.

Obviously, it was not a good year for the Democrats. Yet, none of it was unexpected. The “Sixth Year Itch” prevailed in that the President’s party, the Democrats, were voted out of office in record amounts. The Senate flipped from being Democrat controlled, with Harry Reid as Majority Leader, to Republican control, with Mitch McConnell as presumed new Senate Majority Leader. The House of Representatives also picked up several seats. The total numbers: GOP picks up at least 7 seats in the Senate, and at least 14 seats in the House, give or take a few if the GOP takes a few additional races that continue to be up in the air while recounts, runoffs, and remaining ballots are counted.

Obviously, the main narrative in the media is that the GOP trounced the Dems. And they did. I will give them that. And they had an extremely savvy strategy, especially in the Cory Gardner/Mark Udall race. I believe that Gardner benefited from the Democrats war-on-women central focus setting a vulnerable Mark Udall up for failure. This is what angers me. That the Democrats bungled this one and were complacent about the focus on this issue. As a feminist, I agree that the GOP’s policies are not women-friendly. The legislation coming out of D.C. is not women-friendly. They can’t even pass an Equal Pay Act in D.C. Then there’s the terrible decision made by the Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby Case. Between those and the Personhood legislation on state and national levels coming up every election cycle, and the “Forcible Rape” terminology in legislation, how are women supposed to believe that the GOP works for their interests at all? So the Democrats are correct to pursue this strategy. But it was not in their political interest to make it the center of Mark Udall’s campaign. Voters have a lot of anxiety right now about a lot of serious issues, and they have no confidence in Washington D.C. to address these issues. People are angry, and also checked out. And a wonderful Senator, one of the GOOD guys, Mark Udall pays the price. And opportunist and liar Cory Gardner is now a Senator.

The Colorado Independent has a great piece by writer Mike Littwin, in which he sums up the Colorado 2014 midterms in a nutshell stating: “The strangest thing is that Hickenlooper – who has spent so much time at the center of a gun-laws, sheriffs-pandering storm — is the Democrat who survives, and Udall, whose career has been basically storm-free, is the one who gets toppled.”

Such is the strange world of politics, where nothing is fair and anything can happen.

An Independent’s Case for Hillary Clinton for President

Since I am an unabashed political nerd, it’s never too early in my opinion to begin discourse about 2016 Presidential candidates. And the political dysfunction in Washington D.C. these days only makes my mind turn to 2016 even more as a way of contemplating a change of dynamics in Washington. I will admit that I already have a Hillary Clinton bumper sticker riding on the back of my ride. I’m sure most people would find it to be way too early to contemplate 2016, but in reality it is not. Today billionaire liberal George Soros threw his support behind Hillary Clinton. This is a huge moment for Hillary, to be gaining such huge, influential endorsements from the liberal elite. Soros will throw his considerable wealth into Hillary’s Super PAC, “Ready for Hillary” as well as his name as he becomes a co-chair on the “Ready for Hillary” national finance committee. This big-name donor ups the stakes, because if Hillary does indeed run, how will other Democrats be able to compete?

Back to the Bumper Sticker

You may ask, but if you are such an Independent, as you claim you are, why would you endorse Hillary Clinton for President? Well, apart from the fact that she is has an incredible resume of service including her time as a Senator representing the people of New York, and her time as the most-traveled Secretary of State during President Obama’s first term, I think Hillary Clinton has the leadership qualities required to lead modern-day United States. I think she has a steady hand and a shrewd mind. I think she has built up political capital that is necessary to see policy through in gridlocked D.C.

The fact that Hillary is a woman is indeed a part of the equation, but even if Hillary were a man I think she would be the candidate for 2016 I would be the most drawn to. I do not want to see Hillary be elected solely because she is a woman. No, it is because she is the most qualified of all of the names in conventional wisdom thought to be in the running. But Hillary’s gender does indeed make this whole equation much more exciting. The idea of the United States having it’s first woman president is indeed thrilling. If there is anything American politics are, it’s patriarchal. The political system is dominated by men, with women only holding 18.3% of the seats in the 113th Congress. Women are so under-represented in our government, and it seems the overwhelming testosterone is not helping to aid in a productive legislative branch, if the obstructionism and grand-standing we have witnessed in recent years is any indication. I believe Hillary can re-energize the electorate and encourage whole generations of young women to consider running for public office.

I recently watched an excellent film on Netflix called “Miss Representation”, and this film explores the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America, and challenges the media’s limited portrayal of what it means to be a powerful woman. The conclusions the film arrives at are sobering. Most women never realize their own power. Some of this is because women are nurturers in society. We are the mothers who work two or three jobs to make ends meet while taking care of children. Other women though just never contemplate their own power, their own capacity to make change in society. Women are discouraged from considering a path of public service because we internalize negative messages in society that tell us to be more concerned with our weight and appearance than substantial matters like civics and leadership. This is the internalization of patriarchy that causes women to be under-represented in politics. It will require a huge paradigm shift in our society to change this, but it can indeed be done. And electing our first woman president would be the first step. I believe in Hillary Clinton.

So therefore I will keep the bumpersticker on the back of my car, three years before the race even begins, because I live in a swing-state and I am making a conscious decision to “spread the Hillary love” ahead of 2016. I am confident that Hillary Clinton will run even though a formal announcement has not been made. All of Hillary’s non-verbal signals indicate that she will be running. She has been back on the campaign trail for the Democrats, by campaigning for Terry McAuliffe in Virginia. This signals that she is reconnecting with the donor base. She also made some pointed remarks on the stump for McAuliffe, as she seemed to distance herself from President Obama ahead of 2016. Hillary is carefully laying the groundwork for her 2016 campaign.

Many of Hillary’s supporters are as eager as I am to see a high-profile woman command leadership in the U.S. We want to see a clear break away from the rhetoric of patriarchy. Clearly the right-wing is aware of this and sees it as a threat. I already see conservative shill Ann Coulter speaking of Emily’s List in a dismissive and defensive demeanor in the media. Clearly the conservatives understand the threat of this demographic of the new generations of empowered young women. Perhaps these young women are the generation who have seen the film “Miss Representation” and understand the enormity of the task that faces them. This demographic of women are becoming organized, by groups like Emily’s List. Emily’s List is just one group of many, and they have a mission of supporting pro-choice Democratic women running for congress and governor. This seems to be a direct response by women to the Todd Akins of the world, and to some of the repressive, misogynist rhetoric coming from conservative politicans. Indeed, Democrats termed the “War on Women” in lead up to the 2012 elections. Women are channeling their outrage into organized political efforts. I think this will help more women to be elected, and as a result women will become more represented in high-levels in leadership. And it’s about time. So, this independent does stand will Hillary! Hillary Clinton 2016 all the way! Joe Biden or whatever garden variety GOP candidate won’t stand a chance.