What women's rights look like when the two sides come together as one.
What women's rights are when women are no longer manipulated by party rhetoric.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Some Final Thoughts on the Conventions

Cynthia Ruccia



Like you, I feel like I'm having a convention/politics coma much like the food comas we all get on Thanksgiving. Even before the last speech was given on Thursday, I'd had more than enough. I'm still feeling overloaded, but I have a few thoughts on the two conventions that I wanted to get down on paper.

Before I go any further, to anyone who comes to this blog for the first time (or even for those of you who aren't quite so new), I want to categorically state that I am an INDEPENDENT. I lean neither left nor right. My leanings are towards finding a new way for feminism because imho for now, our politics are failing us in a huge way. Our politics have failed us because women are still mired in last century's paradigm of having little to no power. Female voices in general have yet to make it to the oval offices, executive suites, and to the top of many if not most professions. The mighty U.S. ranks #80 in the world in female representation in government, women hold 26.8% of Congressional seats, only 12% of governors are female, only 8% of the 100 largest cities in the U.S. are headed by a female mayor, women are 2.8% of Fortune 1000's CEO's, we've never had a female president or vice president. We make 77 cents on the man's dollar. You can check out the links to these facts in the column on the right.

I also want to caution anyone on here of two things:

1) I am going to criticize the Democrats. Please hear this loud and clear----I am NOT criticizing the Democrats because I am a Republican. They will be criticized as well.  Just because I sound like a Republican doesn't mean I am a Republican. Independents can criticize Democrats too. I feel a need to give this disclaimer because today's Democrats have a hair trigger against criticism. And if you aren't mouthing the right words, many will knock you down for straying off the talking points. For some reason, I am able to criticize the Republicans without having to take the level of abuse I get by criticizing Democrats. And for those fact checkers out there, you will notice that officially I am listed as a Republican. Let me explain----I live in Ohio and if you decide to vote in a primary election, whichever party's primary you choose to vote in, you are listed as having that party's registration. I wanted to vote in the Republican presidential primary this year since there was no race on the Democratic side, so I am stuck with that label. HOWEVER, this being America, it is I who gets to define who I am and I am an Independent.



2) If anyone wants to participate in our conversation, we welcome you. However, we have civil dialogue here. We don't welcome name calling, character assassination, people being demeaned, ridicule, nasty insults, ugly abortion talk, shaming, etc. If you insist on engaging in that level of talk, your comments will be deleted. However, we welcome all voices that choose to converse with some comity and respect.

Ok, back to the conventions. I've had a few days to ponder what happened in the past two weeks and its meaning to women's progress, and I'd have to sum it up this way: there were some bright spots on BOTH sides. For me, an ideal convention for women at this point would be one which chose to highlight the accomplishments of women and then to promote getting more women elected. Both conventions get passing grades on the first and failing grades on the second. And I'd have to give the Republicans a higher grade on the first than the Democrats. And I'm not going to go into the speeches made by Michelle Obama or Ann Romney. I'm only going to reference the elected officials.

If I take off my Pollyanna hat for a minute, I understand the practicalities of the conventions. Both of them were run by the presidential candidates to do what they could to get themselves elected. Using those parameters, the messages they chose to send to women were quite telling. In the end, it was men deciding what ideas about women they felt A) would get them votes and B) would show what they actually think about what women want. Of course, if women got a chance to really SAY what they wanted for themselves and then decide how they wanted that to be highlighted, the outgoing images I believe would be quite different. But it seems that's a long way off for now. In order to have that, the party's nominee has to be a woman, and I don't really see that on the horizon for now. After all, who is there to nominate in 2016? What name comes to mind? Only the name of Hillary Clinton, and that at the moment is an iffy proposition.

So let's start with the Republicans. The reason I give them the higher grade is that they highlighted some of their outstanding elected women in prime time. I've written two pieces about these speeches here and here. Part of the reason the Republicans did a better job is because at least in my lifetime, they have traditionally done a better job of building their bench and bringing their talented politicians up through the ranks. The cynical among us might say that they were only put front and center in prime time because Romney is desperate for getting some women's votes. I truly don't care why those women ended up speaking at length in prime time---it's irrelevant. The fact is that there they were-----outstanding governors, a woman leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, a promising mayor running for Congress, and of course, the second woman ever to be U.S.  Secretary of State. We got to see them and hear them. We got to learn about who they are, where they came from, and what they stand for. Their speeches were each unique. They were not simply spitting back the talking points and nothing else. I felt proud to see these outstanding women, and I was proud that for whatever reason, the Republican Party put them there, and that bodes well for the future of women and how far they might be able to go in the Republican Party. That the Republican Party chose so many of their precious prime time minutes introducing us to these women says alot imho about Mitt Romney. I am reminded that when he served as governor of Massachusetts, he had a gender neutral cabinet and a female chief of staff.

The Democrats on the other hand have so many more women to highlight. After all, of the paltry numbers of women in the U.S. Congress, many more of them are Democratic then Republican. The Democrats have the first ever female Speaker of the House who is the party's minority Leader,  they have the first ever female Secretary of State, there are more female members of the Senate by far than there are Republicans, and there have been terrific Democratic governors. So what did we get from the Democrats in prime time? We got Sandra Fluke, the head of NARAL, the head of Planned Parenthood, and a candidate for the Senate who has yet to be elected to anything. Where were the actual party superstars? Well, they were given speaking spots all right, but they were as far from prime time as you could get. We had Leader Nancy Pelosi at 7 p.m. EDT, a slot hardly defined as prime time. We never got to see Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at all. And Governor Jennifer Granholm wasn't given a prime slot either. And what about Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a woman whose name is bandied about (for good reason) as a future presidential candidate? She wasn't given any slot at all. The only thing that came close was the time slot allotted to the women of the Senate, and I wrote a piece about that. I was proud to see these wonderful women and proud of what Senator Barbara Mikulski had to say. She was the only woman speaker I heard that said anything about how we need to have more women in government and how all of the problems we face are women's problems (the Republican message to women in fact!! LOL). I found Pelosi's speech campaign boilerplate rehash, nothing about getting more women elected, a little about how being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition (I liked that part).

The Democratic message has been widely reported as abortion rights and reproductive rights. Period. A message soooooo last century which has been written about on my blog by me here and my friend Anna Belle here. You can read up on what many of us think of that important but ultimately very limiting issue. We want to look forward to finishing the feminist agenda of getting women in leadership positions at the top in proportion to our numbers. For years, women stalled out on the Republican side. That is changing, and the Republican convention is another illustration of that. The Democrats are mired in the past. And it is no irony that the Code Pink vaginas might well be all that is remembered about women during the days of the Democratic Convention of 2012. And a postscript to that convention is that the PR campaign of  Naomi Wolff's book Vagina: A New Biography got kicked off during the Democratic National Convention. Nothing against the vagina, mind you. Mine has functioned admirably during my lifetime. It's just that there are other female parts (the brain) and other female goals (parity) to keep in mind beyond the microscopic study of our strictly female parts.

The failing grade of both parties of making any big push to get more women in office so our female representation can be proportional to our numbers is where our politics are at in 2012. Both parties have their reasons for not going there, reasons philosophical, or traditional reasons because things have always been done a certain way, reasons institutional. Only one thing can ever overturn these built in obstacles and that is if women AND men demand that more women need to be elected. The first part of a party charter is that parties exist to win elections. And if putting women on the ballot makes parties successful, more women will be on the ballots. A conversation for another day.

My next piece will be about how we can get more women elected in 2012. In the meantime, I'm going back to my hammock to sleep off my post convention coma. I'm feeling brain dead for now......




20 comments:

  1. I don't know how you found it within you to listen to both conventions. Boring

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    1. there were definitely boring moments!! I was glad to be home (rather than at the actual conventions themselves) during those boring moments so I could multitask....

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  2. everyone i know has OD'd on politics

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  3. Both parties put candidates wife on to speak and both women did well but I don't care who the first lady is and I do not consider her a political leader.

    The Dems put actresses on so clearly they see actresses as leaders among women, and of course actresses are good at sticking to male written scripts.

    The Dems seem to be saying they will solve reproductive problems for women but I don't require the government to solve my reproductive issues and in fact I would like the government and all other male bureaucracies to stay out of my health care. I don't think anything good can come from having the government, my employer and the Catholic church or any church interfering with my health care and who set up the system enabling their interference? Democrats.

    The GOP seems to be promising to take care of economic and employment issues and to me that seems like a problem only the government can solve.

    I wish they would mail me my ballot I am ready to mark it for Romney and have this election thing over with. Don't mistake this for party loyalty, I think any woman who is loyal to either political party is a fool.

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    1. ditto on the "any woman who is loyal to either party is a fool." Once burned, we have learned.

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    2. Absolutely agree about loyalty to any/either party is for fools. Yet so many are. Just as so many are stuck in the abortion issue and can't seem to get out.It's very puzzling to me.

      It is also very puzzling to me that so many women who are all about "choice" seem to find that only important when it comes to abortion. On other issues they don't seem to feel the same. Here's a youtube link that illustrates what I mean perfectly.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=xwejQBIyjow

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    3. Great video kenoshamarge! That has always perplexed me as well. It seems the only "choice" that is okay on the left these days relates to abortion. But if I wanted to "choose" not to participate in the social security ponzi scheme or "choose" not to "go green" then I'm a Nazi.

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    4. me too kenoshamarge----love that video. We humans can look so stupid sometimes!!! And even though as the one lady says "people are a mass of contradictions" that doesn't mean we shouldn't strive for consistency.

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  4. Good stuff. Promoted on all my social networks.

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    1. Thanks Anna Belle!!! We just have to keep beating the drums....

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  5. The caliber of the Republican women -- Governors and Senate candidates -- was higher than the Democrat women and they were all given prime time speaking slots to boost them higher. The Democrats featured many female ex-governors and ex-members of Congress. Sandra Fluke, a nobody who was given a megaphone, was given a prime time speaking slot instead of an up-and-coming female officeholder. The "stars" of the Dem convention were several lackluster Hispanic men -- one of whom didn't get that in the Real World, when Obama wants the platform changed he's supposed ignore the number of delegates voting "nay" instead of trying to be fair and legit. These Hispanic men are clearly regarded by the party pooh-bahs as Obama's successors. In other words, white women like Hillary need not apply. This is the bitter fruit of affirmative action, which, ironically, Hillary championed her whole life. Careful what you wish (and advocate) for ...

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    1. The Stiletto----those words about Hillary I have been hearing alot for the past 24 hours. I am hearing people thinking that in spite of the adulating lip service paid to Hillary, if she really did decide to run, she'd be elbowed out. All of this talk of Dems making another kind of history may just be a bunch of talk. we shall see....

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  6. Ater watching the entire DEM convention as well as the Republican I am even stronger in my belief that as a woman I will have more rights and freedoms under Romney than if we have four more years of the same old Obama song,,,,, Since I am volunteering all over VA for Romney and training, as I did for the Clinton campaign, I am more and more convinced that Romney has an immense respect for women and what they want. His integrity is as high as Obama's rhetoric is endless. This was a slow progression for me and it took close up and personal knowledge for me to be hoping Romney can climb the electorial mountain. Obama has such an easy road through the elctorial college due to the 10 year re-districting that it seems impossible. This is why Obama is now doing what he does best--fight the fight in the courts over Voter ID etc. and challenge everything as he does not have to worry about getting the votes in most swing states. Pennsylvania is already his and Ohio is probable. Nationally, with 95% of the Black vote, 68% of the Jewish vote and most of the Hispanic vote, I talk to those demographic groups who largely do not follow news but only hear the Keywords that ring "free stuff" and "give amnesty to illegals". They do not care to know and the others who have crossed over are heavily criticized. This is his insurance policy so he just has to keep his 40,000 attorneys working and continue to throw breadcrumbs and promises. They are being taken care of they siad and given where they came fron they are better off even though most doing work that is beneath their intelligence and capabilities.

    At times it reminds me of the Clinton campaign all over again. It seems that people have been left out of the democratic process and the vote just does not matter and politicians just twist the truth to give people what they want to hear. Right now it is a squeeze on the popular vote and a win on the electoral college for Obama.

    Rom Emmanuel is back in the mix and I am not sure what in the heck Clinton is doing---helping or confusing-- while Hillary sends herself off to the farest points on a Pacific Rim tour and the furtherest parts of Russian she can find?

    To me, respecting a woman by words and life-long deeds says it all and that I give to Romney. I probably will go Independent right after the election but only waiting to get word from insiders on what the heck this Clinton thing is about. As far as the Democratic party--it not the one we belonged to as it is very European from what I am hearing about what Obama will do when he wins his re-election. It seems reproductive rights is all the DEMS want to do for women? Welcome to the Kimgdom of Obama who will executive order to death the Republican congress. OK, should I move back to England---will that be worse---how long until one can catch a ride to Mars?

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  7. I have a couple of random thoughts about developing a women's political power base. The reason Republicans listen to the fringe who oppose abortion and birth control is because these people offer them votes and they are organized and deliver the votes. They do this through church orgs. who offer babysitting while mothers vote and offer to drive people to the polls to cast their vote. Also where I live there are no polling places all elections are mail in. This destroys a certain sense of community that we all used to get from going to a polling place...which gives us an opportunity to replace that with a different community event. Maybe mark your ballot pot lucks? Other suggestions are welcome. If we organized a group of women and could deliver their votes then we women would have more power with both political parties (as long as we didn't join up with either party). It would be good to develop a women's community group that sponsored mark and mail your ballot events. You could keep it running all year with pot luck, stitch and bitch, bunco, etc events during the year. Also have a 10 min break at events where women can stand up and network (hire me for your pet sitter, house sitter, baby sitter, buy my tupperware, I do alterations, etc). The feminists groups are Democrat imbeds and as such do not offer women power. In order to organize moderate women an org will have to offer them something, fill some immediate need. And to offer women political power they will have to be independent of both political parties.

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    1. interesting idea Bes. I've been turning it over in my head all night.....

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  8. "Nationally, with 95% of the Black vote, 68% of the Jewish vote and most of the Hispanic vote, I talk to those demographic groups who largely do not follow news but only hear the Keywords that ring "free stuff" and "give amnesty to illegals"."

    "This is the bitter fruit of affirmative action, which, ironically, Hillary championed her whole life. Careful what you wish (and advocate) for ... "

    Jews want free stuff? women and minorities want affirmative action?
    Interesting thoughts.

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  9. All I'll remember about the Dem convention is vaginas. Big dancing vaginas and talking vaginas trying to scare my vagina. Vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina... I feel like screaming "hey my brain is up here!!!!!!!!!!!"
    I guess it's an improvement over people talking to my boobs. Or not...

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  10. I like how the Independent voter icon is an Apatosaurus. Let's see some Elephant And Donkey Show act take on one of those things.

    Way to keep the playing field level; normally I see a lot of vitriol and hostility in the conveyance of rebuke against issues about which one is passionate. Good for you.

    Keep up the fight - even Plato believed, in the 5th century B.C., that women ought to do military exercises and receive education right alongside the dudes.

    Sincerely,

    A dude, college student, non-Democrat, and non-Republican.

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