More Political Women, Please!Joanne Bamberger
I know the new Congress has just been sworn in and Barack Obama hasn’t yet taken his second oath of office as President, but you know as well as I do that in our world of perpetual campaigning that pundits are already turning their attention to what the 2014 and 2016 elections will bring.
Without delving into anyone’s personal politics, the answer seems to be a simple one — more women.
Democrats are fantasizing about whether Hillary Clinton will run for President in four years. And, if she doesn’t, people are already on the job trying to figure out what other left-leaning woman might be good at the very top of the ticket. No doubt, Republicans have their eye on a few women for 2016, as well.
There are now plenty to choose from, as we now have 20 women in the U.S. Senate, most of them Democrats. We could even see a mother of young children vying for the Oval Office — possibly Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, whose four-year-old son Henry was on hand to help with her latest swearing in last week!
But if “more women” is the easy answer to more effective and civil government, how do we convince more women to make that leap?
The answer to persuading more women — and, yes, more moms — that they can and should run for office, should start at the local level. As I learned while writing Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America, the online world has promoted many women to get more involved politically, but that doesn’t mean they’re running for office. More women are supporting causes important to them, taking jobs with advocacy groups and even delving into the world of creating their own political action committees. But when it comes to running for office, most women just say no. Why? When asked, women often say they don’t want to expose themselves or their families to the extreme nastiness that seems to be political standard operating procedure.
But as EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock reminded me and some others, there are plenty of local and state offices that need filling that women should consider. Schriock noted that during the 2012 campaign, they conducted research that showed that 77 percent of women who identify as political independents said they believed that Congress is a group of “old, out of touch male politicians who don’t know what life is like for them.” I wouldn’t be surprised if voters think that same thing about their state and local elected representatives, as well. So maybe women who are unhappy, but don’t want to campaign for national office, could be encouraged to run locally? There’s plenty of change that can be made in our communities, and where elections might not be as ugly as the ones we see on cable news.
What would it take to get you to run for school board, town council or for your state legislature?
Read more from me at my place PunditMom and in my Amazon best-selling book, Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America (now available for your Kindle or Nook!)
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