Sunday, May 8, 2016
The Women’s Card
The following is a list compiled in the April 27th New York Times showing which countries had more women in the last year in the central government’s parliament/legislature/congress than did the United States: Mauritania, Croatia, Eritrea, Grenada, Britain, Monaco, El Salvador, Lithuania, China, Honduras, Pakistan, Bulgaria, Kyrgyz Republic, France, Estonia, Moldova, Latvia, Dominican Republic,Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Israel, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, United Arab Emirates, Czech Republic, Turkmenistan, Cameroon, Suriname, Slovak Republic, Tajikistan, Malawi, Bosnia and Herzegovina as well asGreece.
Islamic countries top us, some (Pakistan) even having had prime ministers who were women. Developing nations with powerful machismo values top us. There appears to be a very strong bias against women serving in the highest elected offices in this country, such that when one gets elected, it becomes a very big deal. It shouldn’t, but old world conservative values rail against women migrating out of the home… a fact that happened rather significantly more than three quarters of a century ago. They even oppose women receiving “equal pay” claiming a woman’s familial priorities or the selection of which jobs to pursue justify the fact that women make, on average, 79 cents for every dollar paid to men for the same work.
Donald Trump is telling us that Hillary Clinton’s status as a woman gives her a huge advantage, that if she were a man, she would garner only 5% of the vote. Ted Cruz, failing miserably in recent primaries, added a woman to his ticket in the hopes of garnering some of that powerful, magical women’s vote. But the facts, the track record of women in office in this country, suggests that being a female running for office is a “political deficit” that has to be overcome.
“In [Trump’s] telling, the women’s card confers an enormous advantage. Indeed, current head-to-head polls between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump have her with 55 percent of the two-party vote, suggesting that he believes the women’s card is worth 50 points. That’s nearly enough to assure any female candidate of victory.
“Yet this appears to be inconsistent with available data. Over the past decade, women have been elected to 17.5 percent of House seats, meaning that they’re outnumbered by men by roughly five to one.
“In fact, the women’s card appears to be particularly unhelpful in the United States. Women’s success in politics — at least as measured by the proportion of seats they hold in the House compared with equivalent lower chambers in other nations — ranks below that of nearly every other rich country.” NY Times.
Perhaps, Donald, if you didn’t go out of your way to alienate women, baiting that massive constituency like a man swatting a hornets nest. But right now, among GOP women – and this may surprise you – Trump still seems to have some traction. “Exit poll data from three of the five most recent GOP primaries show Trump has the highest percentage of support from right-leaning women in those states…The greatest percentage came from Connecticut, where 59 percent of female primary voters backed Trump. The numbers in Pennsylvania (54 percent) and Maryland (50percent) show at least half of republican women throwing their support behind him… This isn't the first time Trump has performed well with the Republican women voting in primaries. He also won that group in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.” AOL.com, April 29th.
However, in the end, Donald, you aren’t going to make it in the general election without finding more support among that female constituency you love to insult… who are not right wing Republicans. You just may have awakened a sleeping political giant… a constituency that may realize its power, never to be marginalized or silenced again. Women are beginning to constitute a majority of undergrads and in more than a few professional schools (law schools, for example).
Prepare for a rather significant realignment in the American body politic. And who knows. Look around you. See the world men have configured. Look at the income inequality, the contraction of our middle class, failures to support public education, research and infrastructure and the American involvement in failing military efforts around the world. Could we do any worse?
I’m Peter Dekom, and we need some big changes in this country if we are to survive as a United States for another century.