Enough said about the goings on in D.C., the media, etc. right now. It is a carnival show of the largest order, and I am starting to tire of its tawdriness. Believe it or not, there are other things going on, some of which I'd like to comment on.
First of all, let's take up the case of Elizabeth Warren, the founder of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She was supposed to head up this almost-cabinet post. However, it was recently announced that her nomination was being withdrawn because she couldn't be confirmed by the Senate. Instead, another person, Richard Cordray, was nominated. Many, including myself, were enraged by this turn of events because we feel that the President should have stood up for Warren's nomination. As it stands, Cordray will run into exactly the same obstacles in the Senate as Warren had. Now how do you explain why Warren was thrown over for a man with the same problems? As Rep. Barney Frank summed it up, part of the reason was due to gender bias. But I see it as something even worse. No matter what anyone says, a case can be made that this president has been tone deaf when it comes to women's issues, and this turn of events makes that case even stronger. With women starting to leach away from Obama's base, it would be strategically important to make a stand for the Warren nomination. I believe that by not standing up and fighting for Elizabeth Warren and this nomination, President Obama showed us once again that women's advancement just doesn't matter all that much. Contrast that with our Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who brings a women's rights angle into practically every trip she makes.
I have a personal vignette to add to this story. I had run for the U.S. House in 1994 and 1996, and when 2000 rolled around, the party asked me to run for county treasurer. After some time to think about it, I decided to go for it. Richard Cordray, the man that Obama has put forth in place of Elizabeth Warren, had been asked to run for county commissioner on the same ticket. He and I had a bunch of meetings to put an outline together about how we would run our campaigns together, pooling certain resources to our mutual benefit, particularly on our media campaign. At the very last minute, another candidate came forward to run for county commissioner and Cordray grabbed my spot for county treasurer without ever even discussing it with me. He just basically stole it from me and never brought it up to me ever again.
Now let me say this about Richard Cordray. I have alot of respect for him----he is a brilliant guy and a very able elected official. He's done a terrific job in every office he has held. It is clearly his calling in life to be a public servant. However, I found his conduct in my case to be blood curdlingly ruthless. I bring this up to make a point about him as well.
You see, I believe that as Elizabeth Warren's right hand man, Cordray should have been publicly pushing for her nomination as well. After all, she is the one who elevated Cordray in the first place. I saw once again that Richard Cordray was willing to ruthlessly leapfrog over a woman for his own personal gain. And truth be told, Barney Frank is right is saying that an unconscious culture of sexism makes this kind of conduct not only possible, but politically palatable and perfectly ok. Women should be outraged from sea to shining sea on this one!!!!
It is true that the kind of conduct I am complaining about in Cordray happens to men all the time. However, there never seems to be any price to pay for doing it to a woman. My thought isn't to whine about it but that we must speak up about it loudly and clearly (my favorite theme!! LOL) when it happens. Why? Because if we do make a fuss about it when it happens, people will think twice before actually doing it. And that, my friends, would be progress!!!!
The second item on my agenda is NOW, the National Organization for Women, an organization that many of us former Democrats feel completely betrayed the interests of getting Hillary Clinton nominated for the presidency in 2008. They and other groups who we counted on to stand behind Hillary to help get our first woman president completely blew our minds in their tepid support and abandonment of Hillary. There has been alot of upheaval in NOW since then, and many of us feel that they tarnished their name and brand for all time. We have felt resentful that the lazy media always goes to them for a women's rights perspective after they, NOW, completely blew it.
Imagine our surprise to have NOW FINALLY speak up and say something halfway wonderful on behalf of women. What they said is that if there were more women in Congress, this debt ceiling problem would have been resolved a long time ago. NOW of course, only looks at one side of the aisle, but BOTH sides need to have more women!! Women have been known to come together despite their differences to make progress on issues of public concerns. We also have a fairly current example of this when the Lily Ledbetter Act passed because all of the Republican women crossed over and voted with their Senate Democratic counterparts.
And then there is the study in Scientific American that showed that testosterone might be to blame for the reckless Wall Street decisions that caused the current Great Recession. Sheila Bair and Brooksley Born, two women who headed up regulatory agencies on Wall Street, both consistently warned about the meltdown that would occur because of the recklessness being exhibited by the Wall Street men. The economic disaster in Iceland ushered in an era of female government officials to fix the problems.
Now I'm NOT saying that women can solve everything. Not a bit. What I AM saying is that if there were MORE women running things, say 50% of things, maybe some of our current problems would be resolved differently, more efficiently, etc. It's the BALANCE between the genders that would encourge a more balanced manner of conflict resolution. You're not sure? Well, we'll never know until we try it. And a grudging thanks to NOW for slipping the idea into the public consciousness!!!!
Lastly, I've been getting this blog circulating alot more via various social networking, etc., and the conversation has been incredibly uplifting. I have heard from some fantastic people who care enough about women's parity to engage in figuring out how we can move forward from our current standoff and invisibility. Men and women alike are very engaged by the idea of having a more balanced power structure in the U.S.
I've been equally struck by how many wonderful men are on board!! Woo hoo!!! And I've been a little disturbed by the few responses I've gotten from women who say that the sexist treatment of Palin and Bachmann is well-deserved because these women are scum in their eyes. :( NO ONE deserves to be treated in a sexist fashion no matter how much you may dislike their ideas. If you treat one woman in a sexist way, you treat all of us that way. Fortunately, there have been only a very few with that nasty point of view.
As I circulated Women Win Too around this past week, I ran into an author named Michael Rushnak who visited the blog and joined in on the conversation. Turns out he's a physician who has written a bunch of medical mystery novels. His latest one is The Savior Vaccine, and in it one of the main characters is a woman president of the United States. He has a wonderfully sensitive and nuanced portrayal of this woman president, and for those of us who didn't get our wish in 2008, I highly recommend this book to read about a fictional woman president. The dream lives on and Mr. Rushnak has done a great job imagining for us what could have been and what will be in the future. You can get the regular or kindle version here.