Thursday, February 14, 2008

Why Women Vote, and For Whom

During the course of the primaries I admittedly have been concerned, not about a gender division, or a racial divide. I have been concerned about women being divided by age—I guess some would say, the women who were first satisfied to ‘stay at home’,and then recognized the need to work for change. The women who first benefited from it, and the women who will, thank God, never know what it was like to lie on a table in a filthy basement while someone who was not a doctor performed an illegal abortion. There are three generations of women who will vote next November. It turns out they could be my mother, myself, and my daughter. Although in our case, my mom couldn’t be an activist because my father required full time care—but she worked from home and expected my life to go beyond what hers had been – as long as I got married. Which I did in 1968 and then got dressed, went out on the streets to protest the war, civil rights, women’s rights and the right to make our own choices about how we lived our lives. I would have protested for Gay rights but no one acknowledged them until AIDS epidemic in the 80’s-- and by then I expected someone else to do it. Age is a terrible burden.

Anyway, I fear that after all our hard work, this campaign cycle will divide rather than unite women of all ages. And in my constant effort to understand why people think the way they do, I have been reading letters of endorsements from women of ‘a certain age’ to see why they prefer one candidate over the other. These were the two most insightful. Without mentioning names, (These are an accurate but edited summaries of both),

One of my friends who is a philanthropist and a Hillary supporter said this:

“She has a 35 year track record of commitment to public service -- as a grass roots activist, child advocate, legal aid lawyer, First Lady and U.S. Senator. The New York Times said “we are hugely impressed by the depth of her knowledge, by the force of her intellect and by the breadth of, yes, her experience.” Hillary’s lifetime of public service is her unprecedented experience on the world stage. At the World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. Hillary stood up and declared to the world, that “women’s rights are human rights.” The speech galvanized women around the world. Women who have never in their lives had someone to stand up for them. Hillary put women on the agenda. Many won rights they never had before. As First Lady she traveled to 82 countries. Her actions insured more governments were actively dealing with women’s issues in a meaningful way.”

The other, an Obama supporter is a near-80 year old woman who spent her life in public service as a federal judge, international judge, public interest lawyer and government official. She says:
“During my time on the bench, I saw the largest incarceration boom in the nation's history even as crime rates slowed. The 1995 "tough on crime" legislation sponsored by the Clinton White House, for which the First Lady lobbied, expanded the federal death sentence and gave fiscal incentives for states to legislate "truth in sentencing" laws. The cumulative result of the policies was a generation of young men and women, heavily tilted toward minorities, which suffered more severely than their crimes warranted. Senator Clinton's career, in my view, is that of a cautious and expedient legislator. Her ambivalent attitude toward the Iraq war -- particularly her failure to read the critical intelligence report before voting to authorize military action -- gives me pause when considering her claims to leadership and change. Senator Obama's record: His well-documented years organizing and unifying poor communities in Chicago give him first-hand knowledge of conditions on the ground that a new President will surely need in tackling issues of race and poverty. He has been an unwavering supporter of women's right to choose... I especially admire his unremitting honesty and respect for law. His opposition to the Iraq war at a time when political leaders overwhelmingly supported it reflects sound judgment. I remember Robert F. Kennedy saying in 1968, "I dream of things that never were, and ask why not" and how he voiced the longings of our country to go forth together: black, white, Latino, poor, rich, young, old, male, and female to fight poverty and injustice. I want my ten grandchildren to be moved by the same idealism that once moved us. We should not deny them the chance. For all Senator Clinton's talents, skills, and accomplishments, Barack Obama provides the greater hope.”

Both pieces provide important perspectives, right? I am sure there is other thinking and and different reasoning about for whom we should vote and why. My ear doctor says that she’s not sure about anything but young people – women mostly, will determine who will be the next President—if they actually vote. And she adds that the only thing wrong with this is that young people don’t know anything. We’re just sayin...Iris

1 comment:

Bebe Bahnsen said...

Hooray for the judge!