Wednesday, November 09, 2005

'California Women Defeat Governor'

Athene in California's Heather Barbour credits California women and the gender gap with defeating Schwarzenegger's measures (and the rest of the offerings):

This election the Governor chose as his adversaries on teachers and nurses (traditionally women's professions), supported limits on abortion rights, and got behind a measure that could be sold as cutting education spending (a favorite issue for women). And voters never heard the pro-women message that could have been developed on Prop 77 -- namely that more competition means more women candidates.
I never really thought about it in those terms - but, yes, teachers and nurses are traditionally feminine professions. The only time I can recall the gender divide becoming a bit more apparent was when the Governor made his "I kick their butts" statement. Not only was the line lame, but since the faces of the nurses opposing him were nearly all female, there was a nasty violence-against-women angle that resonated more strongly given his past grope issues.

I don't know if I'd give women all the credit - but it was there on some level, I'm sure.

37 comments:

HB said...

Don't forget the "girlie men" comment either.....

cd said...

Eh, I always found that one just generally lame, rather than damaging based on gender or orientation stereotypes.

As far as I'm concerned, there are fewer higher sins than misapplication of movie or television show lines. Arnold sins like that daily.

Ruby said...

If that is the case, I dare say it's another argument for taking the vote away from women.

cd said...

huh? I don't get that comment at all. facetiousness doesn't really translate into comments all too easily. if you were, in fact, being facetious. if not, then i restate my "huh?"

Ruby said...

the point is mostly jest, with just a hint of my uneasy belief that women tend to be terribly irrational voters. (Al Gore jumped 10 pts among female voters in 2000 after he kissed his wife on Oprah?!?! give me a freaking break!!!)

As for this particular instance of electoral nuttiness, I'm horrified by the idea that women defeated a proposition to help protect young girls from exploitation (I’m especially horrified by anyone ever thinking they my best interest, or the best interest of women [or in this case young girls] is represented by a spokesman of Planned Parenthood), I'm horrified that women can't see the value of a fair redistricting (although over 1/2 of opponents of 77 agree that there needs to be some kind of redistricting but this particular measure was bad - so the question is, are 1/2 of the opponents who support redistricting female, or are the ½ who oppose redistricting all females? – I know there is no such simple answer here). More importantly, I'm really tired of being told that, "as a woman" I really need to support this or that measure. How about considering me as a rights bearing individual rather than as a member of the uterus club?

BTW, CD, you know me well enough to know just how seriously to take the comment about taking away our vote.

cd said...

I also dislike any presumptions about my attitudes or voting behavior based on my having a uterus. I recall my mother telling off a campaign caller one night who expressed shock that my mom wasn't supporting the female local congressional candidate - "but you're a woman!" said the caller. "And?" began my mom . . . .

I do, however, disagree with your assessment that prop. 73 protected young girls from exploitation - as if bands of planned parenthood volunteers are out encouraging girls to get pregnant just so they can have an abortion. Prop. 73 was based on a faulty foundation - a false problem - much as the "partial-birth" abortion scourge that doesn't exist. Like there are hoards of woman out waiting until their 3d trimester to terminate their pregnancies. How idiotic.

And I don't think Planned Parenthood is a bad spokesentity - they may be a bit too one-note, but then again, they aren't Planned Parenthood and Mortgage Company, so they should focus on reproductive issues and sex ed is essential to healthy development (as is education about condoms, etc and involved parenting that doesn't rely on ostrich-like ignorance of teen sexual curiosity, as is, frankly, a good home spiritual/religious life which, when combined with real, health science based sex ed, can go a long way to encouraging teens to hold off on sexual activity until they are old enough to make smart decisions).

And - at the risk of clearly highlghting my law school brain damage and thick-headedness, "Ruby" is a posting name, isn't it? I don't recognize it as anyone in particular, though I do assume I know most of my commenters in some capacity. Feel free to commence mocking my inattentiveness now . . .

ruby said...

The exploitation that I am referring to is the kind perpetrated upon young women, 15 yrs old say, by their 21 or 22 yr old boy friends who use them for sexual gratification then bring them down to their local planned parenthood to get rid of the "unplanned" pregnancy - and evidence of statutory rape. And the exploitation perpetrated by the "reproductive health center" when they don't report the statutory rape even though they are required to do so by law. Or worse than stat. rape, violent rape or incest...

And after the abortion is performed, who do these girls go to after their secret abortions to seek help if there is a complication, either physical or psychological? The secrecy leaves them very much alone at a time when they most need their parents.

You are right, there aren't legions of 14 yr old girls lined up eager to have abortions - they don't want _abortions_ - they just don't want to tell their parents they have been having sex or that they are pregnant.

BTW, unless I misunderstood your comment, I think you are wrong about the influence that a good religious/moral education at home can do to get kids to put off having sex until they, at the very minimum, adults, but potentially even married.

As for "Ruby", yes it's a posting name. Think back to Gov. 80.

cd said...

I think religious/moral education at home is a great way to add to an education that keeps kids from being sexually active before they are ready. That AND sex ed where they learn about condoms, health, etc. So maybe you did misunderstand me - but I can't tell what you thought I said, so who knows.

As for the statutory rape scenario - do you have statistics on this? I don't think there's a huge number of girls in that situation either. Girls who don't feel they can go to their parents frequently will have friends or other adults to whom they can and do turn. Parents would be best, yes, but I think were abortions made illegal without parental approval there would be more sick girls not seeking help or medical aid than when they can go to planned parenthood and obtain professional, above board care.

Gov 80? Good lord, I had to look that one up.

Were you prone to unconventional note taking in said government class?

ruby said...

The question of statistics for stat rape is a difficult one to get your hands around precisely because organizations like Planned Parenthood DON'T report it. And why would they? reporting it would mean diminished profits for them. And let's not forget, when it comes down to it, PP is all about the bottom line.

as for the note taking technique -- yup, although, it's not longer considered unconventional.

cd said...

i think it still is at the college level, though god knows in law school i couldn't live without my notetaker machine.

bottom line? PP doesn't even charge unless you can afford to pay. it isn't a cash cow business.

do you really - reallllly - think there are scores of 15 year olds who have been impregnated by 21 year olds clogging the appointment books of PP? seriously?

what's with the PP anger?

Anonymous said...

I'm stunned by the idea mentioned above "that women tend to be terribly irrational voters." Ruby -- Are you serious? Do you also think a woman shouldn't be President because god-forbid she might get PMS and nuke a friendly nation?

You cite -- and I use the term loosely -- one instance in which women voters may have responded to a candidate showing affection for his wife (a valid consideration of character, if you ask me) as evidence for dismissing an entire gender's ability to make rational choices in the ballot box. Are men equally as irrational for their visceral dislike of "threatening women" (i.e. powerful women) like Hilary Clinton? What do you think about men who support an action movie star for Governor because they misplace his celluloid machismo for an ability to govern? Was Karl Rove appealing to rational desires in men when he advised W. to buy a ranch in Texas and become a cowboy because men like their presidents to wear boots and clear brush?

Frankly, I am horrified that a well-educated woman, raised with the privileges afforded her by the indefatigable feminist activists of generations before her, would suggest that women do not vote as rationally as men. Please stop to think about how damaging and irresponsible such comments can be.

--Catherine Hazelton
Scripps '99

jbl said...

I've heard before this argument about PP not reporting statutory rape despite a requirement to do so, but I've never seen any evidence. Now I know this is one of those odd situations where you're trying to prove a negative (a "perhaps there's no evidence of it because they don't do it" - kind of thing). The law student in me screams, "Where's the evidence?"

Even if they do report, I doubt we'd really know because (while I haven't read the law in question) the law in question probably doesn't have a mechanism to record how many incidents of statutory rape were reported by PP.

doughnut70 said...

I just wanted to point out on the question of a woman becoming President of the United States, we are one of the few civilized countries that has not had a woman ruler yet and I think that says all sorts of bad things about American women. It doesn't matter what your political views are, there are women out there who represent them and with a majority of the voting populace being female, it's just incredible that not only have we never had a woman President, we haven't had a woman nominee yet and the only woman nominated for Vice President was on a ticket that was 30 points down going into the convention and trying a "hail mary".

cd said...

whoa whoa whoa - it says bad things about American women? how about America in general?

Anonymous said...

Are you insinuating that it is primarily the fault of women that we have not had a woman President? Ha! Do you know how severely women are blocked at every step of the path by the men who run politics in this country? From the male party leaders to the male donors to the male political pundits, it is MEN who have blocked women from the Presidency, not women.
--catherine

jbl said...

Not to mention the fact that for over 100 years we didn't even allow women to vote...

HB said...

Wow - great convo... couple of points of fact, just to be wacky by adding facts to this discuss...

1. the gender gap on abortion (for white women, at least) is actually very narrow (historical ave about 2-4 pts) compared to many other issues where the range is 10-20 pts, so women aren't voting their 'uterus" on abortion at least. The gender gap is much more relevant to things like whether we build more or fewer bombs or spend government money feeding children and paying for schools. I'm willing to believe these differences aren't knee-jerk "uterus" ones, but come from the genuinely different lives women and men live.

2. check out the GREAT analysis of the research behind the policy issues raised by prop 73 on the USC policy institute web site... turns out 61% of girls already do tell a parent, 80% tell an adult... so, whether we need a constitutional amendment to make girls do this is questionable... fyi - studies have show women in the 14-15 range go through the same issues, same decision process as adult women (they aren't, by virtue of age, automatically incompetent to make these choices, regardless of the age of the partner) and lastly, if a girl can't tell her parent, to me that's very much the parent's choices and decisions that set this up. The way to solve that isn't a form letter in the mail, it's teaching parents how to parent better.

As for the point about political reform issues not being salient for women - I absolutely agree there's a problem with that. And I think women and political reformers should get together and have a good long talk about why and how to overcome it. BTW - generally speaking, black women are and have always been more in-tune with the need for political reform (for obvious reasons)... can't go painting with a broad brush... white women, on the other hand, have tended to cling to existing social order.

Just some food for thought...

Heather (Athene)

cd said...

Whoa nelly! None of that fact talk here!

Just kidding.

It's funny how libertarianism can creep up on either side of the aisle. Republicans want limited government but want to manage familial relations when it comes to how effectively parents and children communicate. But they don't want stricter gun laws to stem gun violence in youth who are also clearly not being parented correctly. Etc. etc. But I digress . . . .

I looked up the USC report (website: http://www.usc-cpi.org/, report: http://www.usc-cpi.org/2005/09/28/proposition-73-parental-notification/)

But to digress again and go completely off topic - here's my beef with USC (I've touched on it regarding their Prop. 77 work as well). And let me preface this by saying that I now have a very close friend who will be helming part of the USC group who I hope is too busy with wedding stuff to notice this comment - I mean no offense to her directly, but I do hope she spits out their kool-aid and turns the outfit into the world class institute I'm sure USC has the resources to develop, rather than the regurgitator of others' research it so proudly is right now.

So USC has decided its role in Sacramento policy making is to bridge research and policy communities. What this means, from what I can figure, is that where other outfits produce top notch research, they frequently fail at promoting it and getting it in front of interested lawmakers. So USC can add it to a paper, footnote it, and effectively end up credited with the work of others (because we all know the coverage that should read "as found in a report by USC citing work from Wonky Wonkerson Institute." it will read "as reported in USC's "analysis of prop. xx").

There isn't anything wrong with a clearinghouse of ideas - but I think its false academia.

There is, of course, a good use of this method of advocacy (oh yeah, advocacy), but USC's becoming the self-described lobbyist on the behalf of research outfits seems a little arrogant, doesn't it?

Check out the about page: http://www.usc-cpi.org/about/

All of listed complex factors exist. But something about "leveraging both our access to California policymakers and our affiliation with world-class university" rings hollow. How do you have special access USC? You might be starting to cultivate it, which is great, but from what I recall, your public policy program up there is routinely mocked (perhaps just by bruins, I don't know).

Creating an "intersection of ideas and insights" does indeed lead to "better understanding and [likely] the development of innovative solutions for California and its communities." But it sounds like USC/CPI wants to be the self-appointed CRS when we have a CRB already - maybe that just needs more help.

Where there's a vacuum, someone will eventually step in, I'm just not sure I feel comfortable with it being an external outfit.

Their only saving grace right now, as far as I'm concerned - aside from saving some aware college kids out there a helluva lot of leg work - is that they had the extreme intelligence to hire my good friend who is capable of making taking the institute's relevance from in-their-heads to existing-in-reality. Assuming she's allowed.

doughnut70 said...

As far as women not holding office, every roadblock that has been placed in front of American women was also placed in front of women in other countries along with some additional roadblocks that might come up with a lack of Democracy or a more ingrained sense of chauvinism in a particular country. There comes a point where you have to overcome roadblocks, not whine about them.


As for the comment that maybe it's the fault of American society overall, I don't think so. I think it's primarily a weakness that society has developed in our women, particularly over the last fourty years (an era when many other countries have moved dramatically forward).

I think Betty Friedan identified a lot of the problems many years ago when she wrote "The Feminine Mystique". Somewhere along the way, American women (and this is different from anywhere else in the world) decided that they were supposed to be emotionally helpless, achieving their goals vicariously through their husbands successes.

In earlier America as Friedan pointed out, even though women were limited in a lot of their roles and pushed in some ways into the partner role, they were still encouraged and honored by society for traits such as cleverness (Think Becky Thatcher in Tom Sawyer) steadiness and common sense. Although they were pushed into the partner mode, they were also understood to be co-bosses, not servants. "I've got to check with the wife" is a common line in old movies. Not today!

In fact, you would be very hard pressed to find a woman in any movie or book made before 1950 who was getting by just on her looks without showing a lot of intelligence to go with it.

If such a woman were a character in a plot, she always came off poorly and since books and movies generally reflect the mores of society, that to me was a reflection of how society viewed people with no depth, trying to skate by on something as shallow as their looks.

In most of the rest of the world, women are still more respected for things besides their looks. Beauty may be noticed in a passing manner, but you don't see the idea promoted in most of the world of men getting so bent out of shape over sex, that they go completely crazy and lose all judgement.

It's understood that can happen (to either sex) but it's also understood that losing control is not a good thing and it's not generally encouraged or looked at as humerous.

For an example of other differences, in many countries women have their own bank accounts and also often take separate vacations from their husbands. The idea for example of a German woman going with a couple of her girl friends for a long weekend in Poland is very common. In this country men would be paranoid that women were cheating on them and women would be paranoid that men would be going out while they were gone. Neither gender in this country has a lot of confidence that their spouses are with them because they make their lives better and their spouse would be worse off if they lost them. Instead they have been convinced that they are lucky to be married and got that way because of something they were born with, not something they earned.

Another difference is that in many parts of the world it is considered inappropriate to make suggestions to your spouse of either sex on things connected with their work. That is because it is understood you wouldn't know a lot about their job if you don't work there yourself.

In this country women are so worried about correctly filling the role of partner and helpmate that they question, push and everything else, often without understanding what is going on and feel left out if their husband doesn't discuss his job with them. This may sound like not that big a deal, but the most common complaint I hear from my married friends is that their wives are pushing them to ask their boss for a raise or new responsitilities when they think it is a bad idea at this point in time, but they are having trouble explaining that to the wife. And on and so forth.

I realize that I am starting to sound like I am ranting and of course the original subject was political power, but I think it's all interconnected and I still think at some point women have to say they will not accept those roles whether they make things easier for them or more fun in a short term sense. Just by being on this planet you get a lot of gifts in terms of the use of natural resources etc. You have a responsibility to give back more than you get.

There was a play written many years ago based on a Greek legend where the women in a village refused to have sex with men until they stopped waging war. Do you really think that if every woman in this country opposed to the war in Iraq, stopped having sex until it was ended that the war would go on for very long?

That of course is an extreme exxageration, but what I am saying is that women have all of the power they need to influence politics, but in this country they choose not to use it. That shows itself in a million ways, but the lack of women trying to compete for political office is one of the most dramatic. JMO!

cd said...

Look bucko - ain't nobody here whining about anything. I don't give a shit what society thinks about it - I'm going to run for office someday. And I'm certainly not alone in my ambitions.

Also - the play was an ancient Greek on called Lysistrata by Aristophanes. I don't believe it was based on any legend, it's just one of the original ancient comedies and it is brilliant and funny.

I'm not going to take down your comment blow-by-blow, but it's colanderic in its composition. You say its us an the proceed to discuss the ways in which men can't handle girls' night out. We're aren't so wholly different from our Euro counterparts in the way women are viewed and the way they view themselves.

I hardly view myself as helpless, but I also won't be stupid enough to turn a blind eye to the real biases that persist against woman. They are there. I will deal with them.

But I'll leave the rest to Catherine because once she reads your comment you're gonna be in troubbbbllllleeee . . . .

doughnut70 said...

I certainly hope your ambition continues into the future. But I have seen too many qualified women walk away from opportunities they had. Just to give you a personal example, I live in the 43rd Assembly District which has had several competitive elections in a row, with different candidates winning races.

A majority of the voters in the 43rd are women. There are also several different cities and school districts within the Assembly District which have had women elected officials who were popular within their districts and could easily move up if they had wanted to run for the Assembly. This would seem to provide a natural training ground for people unsure if they wanted to make politics a career to get a start and see how they liked it.

However, not a single serious woman candidate has tried to run for the Assembly in this area. In fact the winning candidates have all been people who moved into the district in order to run.

In the last competitive race, Dario Frommer who had grown up in the area but had not lived there for some time and had no strong political base within the district edged out Paul Krekorian who also moved into the District to run. The third place finisher John Hisserich was also a relative newcomer to most of the District.

Any of the several women elected officials within the district would have won the seat easily and so would several other women who were prominent in the community if they had tried. But none would take that step of putting their names out there.

In next years election when the seat is open again because of term limits, there are three strong candidates, none of whom is a women. This time the field is a little stronger than it was last time, with the candidates having some connections to the community, but again no one has a particularly strong base to run from.

Several women looked at the race and to a person they all tell me about being talked out of it by other women. The men they discussed the race with were all for it and encouraging. The women they talked to however, didn't seem to see political office as something to compete for, but rather as something that some insiders either handed to you on a silver platter or you didn't try for. They argued that if you didn't have the kingmakers on your side, you couldn't win.

Well, that's not the way politics works. Alternatives are supposed to be offered to the voters and they are supposed to get to choose. But beyond that, as someone who has been involved in strategy for many campaigns, there are no real kingmakers. The people identified as such are more like king followers. They look for who has established themselves as a strong campaigner and then help the likely winners. You have to prove that you are willing to do the work first, before they give you their support.

As I said, I am glad to hear CD talk about running for office some day because you are already better qualified than some elected officials, but I also hope you don't get talked out of it by women with 18th century mentalities (even if they don't realize it) that politics is unladylike and I know from experience that there are too many of those types of women around.

I also hope you don't get convinced like too many politicians of all genders that it is an honor handed to you for being a loyal member of the club instead of a job you are applying for to serve the people of a particular area. We don't need any more of the first type of politician.

As for Catherine reading my post, I hope it goes better than that, because from the few of her posts I have read, I would think she would agree with a lot of what I say, but we shall see.

cd said...

Here's the thing - it isn't always a matter of women not putting themselves out there to run. I don't know the ins and outs of the 43d - but there may have been talk among people and there are always people who weigh in on the decision to back a candidate on an institutional level. Frequently, the system doesn't ask women to run.

Also - I am compelled to take issue with the "walk away" comment. I bet those women didn't "walk away" like it was easy or not a big deal. For politically ambitious women there are a host of issues that don't confront men. We still have to have the babies afterall - which is a huge factor given the rigors of campaigning and the time commitment of holding office.

There is also the incredible pressure from within the political women's circle - if you decide not to run, you've just treasoned the movement. There's no easy answer and it's something I literally lie awake nights worrying about.

women and their 18th century mentalities? i won't be talked out of it by anyone but myself if i decide not running is better for me. Woman frequently consider the bigger picture and are more realistic about the effect of elected office (and running for it) on their families and friends and careers. they don't wake up, think "i'll run for office," and go for it without considering all the outcomes - good and bad.

Women do not self-select into running for office as often as men do, but are likely to run if someone suggests it to them. The reasons for this are many - and if I can get my hands on a really fantastic study done by a grad student from - I think - Stanford that we learned about in Emerge.

Many more men than women have a seeming sense of entitlement when it comes to holding office, see e.g. Lockyer, Bill (race for State Treasurer?). But we've discussed that at length already - and by the way, I double checked, the folks don't like him either.

Your unending need to blame women alone for their being MIA in the Capitol is baffling.

And also - just because it's a big pet peeve of mine - I'm not likely to run for local school board first because it's a good learner office. if women want to run - go for something that suits you - not a "Stepping stone" - that only proves a disservice to the office.

doughnut70 said...

I think that the importance you give institutional support is way too much for the power they actually have. The system asks no one to run, although occasionally an elected official will support a staff person they think they can control.

Beyond the fact that large numbers of PAC's are run by lazy people who got the job on seniority, not ability, you also have the factor that even those Pacs that are run effectively know that the effort a candidate puts into running is an indicator of a lot of things that can wind up being more important in the long run that their voting record.

Important people almost never commit in a race below the statewide level until at least close to the end of filing, because they know the political situation can change dramatically and they don't want to be caught in a tough situation if that happens. They will sometimes let a friend use their name as a supporter, but they will tell that friend that they are reserving the right to make a dual endorsement if the situation in the race changes.

Because being a candidate is essentially a 7/24 job (which it should be considering how important an officeholder is) people with real political power will forgive an occasional difference of opinion on issues for someone that they generally agree with who also works hard. Beyond that, one of the reasons they have real power is that they don't let their friendships get in the way of their political decisions. Real players understand they are making important decisions about the future of real people and getting an unqualified friend a good job as an elected official doesn't help if his lack of a work ethic costs your party the majority. Candidate choosing by real political powers is one of the most meritorious things there is in American society. If it were not, then Howard Dean would have been the Democratic nominee last year.

If you work extremely hard and in a smart manner, literally anyone can raise enough money and get enough institutional help to run for office at least at the legislative level successfully.

Probably one of the best examples of that is a college Trustee in Monterey County named Bill Freeman. Bill has an illness from when he was very young that affects his mental capability. He is as smart as anyone, but it takes him several minutes to process most complex thoughts beyond the basic level and he has trouble speaking well.

However, Bill has always had a fascination with politics and put his name on the ballot as a candidate for College Trustee, not really thinking he could win, but having his own beliefs about what was going on with the college board and enjoying answering questions from the newspapers and such that a candidate gets to do. In other words, trying to effect change the best way he knew how.

Well, two years ago Bill Freeman got elected. A fluke basically. But in his time on the board, even though he has trouble following debate he has become a power on the board and the leader of one of the two factions that exist.

He has to take home a video tape of each meeting and write out his thoughts before the next one and try as best he can to keep up with the debate when he shows up. It clearly takes an incredible amount of effort on his part.

He is currently in the middle of a controversy because he recommended replacing the President of Hartnell Community College because he disagreed with the job the President was doing. Although some people disagreed strongly and criticized him for not being a team player, there was no doubt that he had his reasons and that they were carefully thought out. No one considers him a joke in any way.

So here is this guy who can't talk well, can't even follow a lot of the debate, but he holds elective office and has real influence. How much influence?. He is doing well enough in a lot of peoples minds, that some people involved with unions connected to the College District have seriously suggested that Bill consider running for the Jeff Denham Senate Seat which is expected to be a heavily contested race.

That is not going to happen, but its still incredibly impressive to me that because of his effort, Bill Freeman is not just a member of the College Board, he is enough of a power in his own right and that some important people think he could even move up beyond that.

So my point is that if someone with those handicaps could accomplish that much, there is no reason someone else can't accomplish more and I think the real political powers understand that instinctively and they wait to see what the candidate brings to the table and how hard they work.

As far as your comment about finding an office that suits you, I hear you and respectfully disagree. I say respectfully because most people would agree with you and on rare occasion I think some of the politico's who take a job as a placemat until something else opens up are so horrible that I go back and forth on this question myself.

However, in my experience, people looking at running for higher office do a better job at any politcal office than someone who doesn't have that background. Quite simply, they work harder and have their ears much closer to the ground than for example the local PTA mom who serves on the school board. Also so much is interconnected, that a person who is heavily in politics can often use their contacts in other offices to help their local school district. For example, Marcella Calderon, wife of former Assemblyman Tom Calderon has been great for the Montebello Shool District because she was able to identify funding sources for the district and to lobby critical people to develop those sources when the money was discretionary. If you want to make politics a career (which of course is different from just running for office) then you may not get the perfect office for your skills, but on the other hand, since you are looking at it as a step on a career path, you may accomplish more than someone who is looking at it as a nice thing to do on a very part time basis.

Sorry your folks don't like Bill Lockyer. I guess we have to agree to disagree on that one. It's funny because I still think they are very similar in many ways.

doughnut70 said...

Also on my unending need to blame women for their lack of a presence in the state capitol. I would like to think that some woman out there will read my words and say to herself, why can't we get this done and put herself forward as a competitor in the arena. There are many I think would do a great job and because quasi professionals and newsreporters try and make the whole process seem mysterious, some people get scared. In the words of a good friend of mine, "Running for office is not complicated. It's not easy, but it's not complicated". I would add to that there are no guarantees when you run, but there is also no long term damage either.

cd said...

Some women are way ahead of you.

www.emergeca.org

Plus the Women's Caucus of the CDP.

Plus me and a boat-load of others.

And there absolutely can be long term damage resulting from a bid for office. Absolutely.

doughnut70 said...

On long term damage (except for the personal sacrifices) what could there possibly be?

cd said...

You would dismiss the personal sacrifice? You think that's not a factor that weighs heavily against the decision to run? You don't mind offering up your whole life to the press who have led the public to believe they have an absolute right to all - ALL - of your personal details and history?

What else does there possibly need to be?

doughnut70 said...

No, I am not dismissing personal sacrifice. In fact I sometimes wonder if there isn't something wrong with anyone that runs for office.

But that's never going to change and we started off discussing why women specifically don't run for political office. Since I don't believe that there are real gender based differences that make any of the obstacles tougher for women than for men, I just think there needs to be an understanding that the opportunities are out there for anyone who might be crazy enough to want to take them. The only real obstacle I see is that women tend to believe the media hype that someone will give you the backing you need to be a successful candidate (meaning if you work hard enough for the right cause, you will move up and get your chance) wheras the reality is that the team is constantly changing because people make alliances differently when faced by different challenges and the only way for someone to move up is to push themselves forward when they think they are the best choice for a job. Not how it is in the movies, but how it is in the real world.

cd said...

On what do you base the assertion that women "tend to believe the media hype?" Also - I'm not getting this media hype thing.

Working hard for a cause is hardly expecting something to be handed to you. In fact, the hype you summarize sounds suspiciously like the American Dream.

Success is rooted in a combination of having put in the work and being in the right place at the right time. You can find many, many examples of electeds who have come to office as "insiders" and as "outsiders."

And there are barriers to women entering elected office - some are cultural, some are institutional - but they exist.

You shouldn't, however, ascribe a general lack of balls to our entire gender. Some of us have huge huevos and aren't afraid to let them lead us onto the campaign trail.

cd said...

But of course - if a woman chooses not to run for office - let's not use that decision to judge the entire gender cowardly, lazy, or unaccomplished either.

doughnut70 said...

I think you have to say something is seriously wrong when a group that is a majority of voters in this state holds so few elected offices and I think part of it is that they are not told the truth about what it takes.

My comment about media hype is that I think there is a stereotype that is promoted by people who like to think of themselves as kingmakers or activists and sell the idea that early support from important people is what decides most elections.

In my humble opinion, that is completely wrong. Most important people in politics really do care about specific issues and they will tolerate a lot of disagreements from someone who is hard working because that person can make a difference both in what they accomplish as a legislator and in who they help get elected to take or enhance a working majority.

That is contrary to the popular belief that politicians are just selfish and lazy, but I think it is an accurate portrayal of the real powers that be in the political world. The real powers tend to be like that guy from Missouri. They want you to "show them".

I have found in my own experience, that the people and groups that you hear about endorsing early can and will always be neutralized by those people that really matter if it becomes in their best interest to do so.

So I believe that anyone who wants to hold elective office first has to decide if they believe they are really the best person for that job and then has to essentially put themselves out there and try and convince others without really knowing what the outcome is likely to be. I think you have to believe that your election is important and not just in a personal way.

If a candidate can show support (which most people can do if they work hard enough), the party leaders will come around because their survival and the survival of the things they believe in, depends on having allies who work hard.

They may want to help their friends, but just as you wouldn't trust some of your friends with the family business, political leaders will not trust the future of beliefs that they hold dear to someone who is likely to let them down by lack of effort.

The best example of this is playing out right now on the Republican side in the race for Attorney General. Chuck Poochigian was generally very well respected on that side and as such was supported by virtually every prominent Republican individual and group in the state. He expected to be unopposed in the primary.

However, a group of Republican consultants who had worked closely with Karl Rove in the past, took from what he taught them the idea that Conservatives needed to start developing some minority faces in the mix of candidates. They found a Federal Prosecutor who was a conservative African American named Pierre Prosper who also had family money for a political race and encouraged him to make the plunge.

At first, no one thought Prosper had a chance. After all he had no real contacts with the political structure in California. Even his consultants were from other states hoping to break into the market.

But then people found out he had the money to self fund and they started hearing from their friends in DC that he was a legitimate conservative who could handle himself well on the campaign trail.

Now even Republicans who like Poochigian a lot, have been backing away from any criticism of Prosper until they find out where he stands on the issues.

Republican leaders have also put the word out to Poochigian, that just being the buddy of establishment Republicans was not going to be enough. He is going to have to show that he could develop new support for the party if he wants to be their nominee. Old ties are important, but not as important as winning an election. If Poochigian shows he can do the job, then he will keep the support. If he bombs, these people will put their arms around him and suggest he try lobbying or some such thing. If it plays out somewhere in between, maybe they have a big primary fight. But it's definitely a battle at this point

So far, the news media hasn't really picked up on it at all, but it's a very intense situation in Republican circles with a lot of bickering going on, and we shall see how it all plays out.

My main point with all of this however, was that just as conservatives were willing to dump a well respected legislator who had been a part of their team for a long time if they knew there was something better out there (But they do have to be convinced that there is legitimately something better) political leaders at every level will usually support a person who shows by their effort and work ethic that they can do the best job. But usually a candidate has to go into a race at least partially blind without a real idea of whether or not they have enough support to win. I don't think most women understand that fact and I think it cuts down on a lot of potential candidates and frankly I don't think most people in general who have not been a part of the process for a long time understand it, which is why I felt compelled to post on the subject. Sorry if I wrote a book again, but I did want to share my thoughts on the subject.

HB said...

See the Casey-Santorum race in Penna, where DSCC chair Schumer (sp?) forced a well-know, hard-working pro-choice woman who had run and won statewide before out of the race in order to recruit and promote a pro-gun, anti-abortion male Dem, to see evidence of same in the Dem party. It has very little to do with work ethic though, and a very lot to do with both parties "getting" that they have allowed their bases to narrow far too much.

And I'm sure you know that just two years ago there was a major fight in the CA Rep party over leadership (CA conservatives verus the White House), and that fight had a second-tier argument tied to it over whether or not slavery was economically good for slaves. That fight opened a huge public rift when a black rep reported to the press that he had been asked to carry peoples' bags at republican conventions and suggested the party was racist. Ray Haynes managed to shut the thing up in public, but I'm sure the issue has not died. There are very complex reasons the Karl Rove types are looking for black Reeps to support in CA, and it has very little to do with showing you can do the job. It has to do with race politics in CA (race is the single largest determinent of who voters support, bigger than ideology, gender, religion, etc. and CA is the most racially mixed state) and a HUGE fight over the future of the Rep party in CA.

This whole work ethic discussion tho, is only tangentially related to the discussion at hand, which is about why women don't run. Evidence on that suggests you are both right. There are personal reasons - including that women are too modest about their accomplishments and often don't think they are "qualified" to run (men, of lesser qualifications, assume they are qualified) and so don't.

The media also plays a huge role, both b/c there is less converage of women candidates and the coverage tends to be relegated to 2nd and 3rd tiers, and tends to focus on personal qualities like hair and make-up. They also re-capitulate the untrue notion that it is harder for women to raise money, and that does keep women away.

There's another really significant reason, which is that women tend to run to 'get things done" and men tend to run for personal ambition. Once elected, this makes women far less willing to tolerate the politicing and self-promotion and silliness they have to do in order to just get something to happen. They simply get frustrated and drop out, while the men stay and enjoy being called "senator" and having several psuedo-servants at their beck and call. See Pat Shroeder and strom thurmond for examples. This isn't, of course, true for all, but in the aggregate, this is a major factor.

The parties also play a role in who gets recruiited and elected. Catherine has done far more research than me on how the old boy network works here so I'll let her address it, but make no mistake about it, they are a factor.

Lastly, in addition to these "soft" issues, there are hard structural reasons too. The US is 63 out of 183 nations for women in office. Even Africa - not known as a non-sexist place - has elected a woman pres before us (though interestingly, in a nation founded by former slaves). In any case, studies have shown that there is a high correlation between women in office and electoral systems that are proportionally based, rather than geography based. The counter point is also true. Nations that are district based and that have little or no formal structures for getting women into office have the worst rankings.

doughnut70 said...

Interesting point about proportional representation. My general take on the system was not that good.

I had a friend run a campaign in Australia where they used the proportional system and we both agreed afterwards that the election was a disaster in terms of the quality of people elected (although her candidate won). Basically because you only had the one shot at deciding (No runoff, you rank the candidates) there was no reconsideration and a lot of people cast casual votes for their second and third choices as protests and wound up with a lot of nuts elected they didn't think could win when they voted, so they got bitten badly by what they had intended as a protest vote.

However, another friend who had done some work in India (which also has the system) really liked it, so I guess to me the jury is out. I know Cambridge Mass has had a proportional system for some time and it has received mixed reviews, but it's clearly an idea worth studying.

On the comment about Pennsylvania, I think the system in that state is a whole lot different than it is in California as far as the power of the parties. Not like New Jersey, where it actually lists on the primary ballot who the party endorsed candidate, but close.

Candidates endorsed by the Party in PAget special discounts on all ad buys (basically they buy TV time through the party account and get quantity discounts) and multiple mailers paid for by the party at no cost to themselves.

Also local party leaders control jobs in many areas and so they have a much more motivated volunteer base.

In California, we have none of that and if Chuck Shumer for example told a leading Democrat who was serious about the race not to run for U.S. Senate he would get laughed at.

I would also add that I don't think anyone was really forced out of the PA race. I think it was more a case of Democrats within the state feeling that they needed to reach out to Catholic and Pro-Gun Democrats (as of 1994 over 50% of all Pennsylvania households had guns in the house and hunting is huge there) and Casey, the popular son of a former Governor who had nearly won a statewide primary before, looked like he filled the bill.

Also there were not a lot of people in a state without term limits that wanted to give up their seat to take on a tough race against an incumbent Senator. I think a more accurate portrayal of the situation was that when a woman candidate saw she coulnd't win a primary and was unable to get support for a primary race, she blamed it on out of state party leaders instead of accepting that she couldn't get support from Democrats in her state. In fact, the last time I checked, there was a liberal Democrat trying to put together support to challenge Casey, but he has gotten little support so far with Casey supported by most leading Democrats in state and also showing a lead over Rick Santorum of 14 points. Yes electablity is a factor, but remember also that Casey's father was one of the most popular Governor's in Pennsylvania history.

As for the Sundheim-Back race for Republican party chair, I think you overrate the significance of the race and again are thinking in East Coast terms where party chairs have real influence. In California they do not on either side.

In the Republican race, Sundheim was a Stanford grad who had done some work for moderate Republican elected officials whom the people that ran the party thought might be able to make a reasonable impression on Television.

Conservatives went along with the choice because they didn't care one way or the other about Bill Back, Sundheims opponent and did want to elect a former right wing Assemblywoman named Barbara Alby Vice Chair over a woman named Donna Tuttle whose father in law Holmes Tuttle was a financial backer of Ronald Reagan's.

Even that race was not about power, but instead was a putdown of Tuttle who had been financially backing prochoice Republicans in primary fights.

Back was in a position similar to Steve Barr when he challenged Phil Angelides for State Chair. He had no chance, but he was endorsed by some people for whom he had done volunteer work as a thank you.

When Back put his comment on the Civil war in an email I believe, the media picked it up and made it much bigger than it was. Most of his grass roots supporters stuck with Back because they knew him socially (another example of why organizations have no influence in this state) and a few far right elected's even defended him. But no one of any significance did so and the whole incident had nothing of significance to do with the Republican party or it's future in California.

As for the comments about the news media, first it has to be understood that most news sources have other financial interests (many are partners in land development schemes) and their coverage will almost always reflect their financial interests in the end.

I think you saw a good example of the basic distrust of the media in California by the thorough walloping Prop 77 took, even though it was endorsed by every newspaper in the state of California (and they backed that up in my opinion with incredibly biased coverage).

In an Assembly race which is small enough that a candidate can get a message out on their own, without dealing with the media, newspapers are a factor, but never a critical one.

As for party leaders recruiting candidates and deciding who will be elected, show one place in California where that has happened in a race for State Assembly.

Only in a special like the Ted Lieu seat or once every blue moon in a regular election for a marginal seat. But to think that the party leaders can stop a primary fight is just not backed up by history.

The best example of that is in the 41st Assembly seat where then Speaker Bob Hertzberg put all of his energy into electing former Clinton Speechwriter Andrei Cherney who had grown up in the District and was also endorsed by Al Gore and Hertzberg also used reapportionment which was coming up as a tool to unite virtually all of the powers that be around Cherney.

However, Lloyd Levine who had also grown up in that district and whose father had some contacts as a political consultant was able to cobble together a coalition of people who didn't like Hertzberg or who liked him to beat Cherney pretty badly.

But that race is not an isolated example. It is similar to literally dozens of others. As quick examples, most party leaders supported Amanda Susskind over Paul Koretz and David Freeman over Fran Pavley and so on and so forth.

Actually the most common way for a candidate to get elected to the State Assembly nowadays is to run for City Council and then move up as happened in the races I mentioned. But in the term limits era it's clear that the most important thing is to work on developing your own following and not waiting for other people to support you.

One reason the party leaders don't have more control is there is no past history in California of them having or using that type of power.

It was only recently that party organizations could endorse in primaries and there still are no effective tools to back up that endorsement. It may be that the rules will change some day (I am sure against the wishes of California voters) and give party leaders more power, but that day is not here yet.

When that day comes, different interest groups will fight out nominations in back rooms. Nowadays, just like they did in the Levine/Cherney race, they fight it out in primaries.

There are enough groups on the Democratic side that have strongly held differing views on specific issues that you can always contrast yourself with the candidate of the party leaders and get enough support to challenge any candidate they favor if you have a good campaign, but I still believe that what most groups look for first is evidence that you will be that serious alternative.

They don't want to give their money and energy to someone who may be on their side, but in the end won't work enough to win a tough race. It's all about business.

If you show you have a volunteer base that is dedicated to you and will turn out at your request, not because they are liberals and turn out for every liberal cause, but because you specifically motivated them to turn out, then a lot of liberal polticians will become your booster in a big hurry, because they will want you to get those people to turn out for them also.

A part of it also, which I hate and is a subject most people avoid, is showing the ability to raise money from your own sources, not just traditional Democratic or liberal givers.

At a time when up until then unknown charitible groups are able to raise tens of thousands of dollars for their causes, candidates who work hard can raise the same type of money for their campaigns if they have important enough issues to appeal to donors and if they care enough to work at it.

Fundraising is an artform, but it's a relatively easy one to learn and it simply takes work to do it effectively.

The reason this part of the system can't be avoided is simple. Our founding fathers in their infinite wisdom wanted to make money a part of the election process because they believed that without some protection, the poor would simply take from the rich whenever they felt like it.

I don't like that concept and wouldn't mind seeing it changed, but it's the system we operate under today, no matter how many times we play with campaign reform without making any changes that would matter.

So if you are running as a candidate and want to help the poor and the dispossessed, one of the questions you are going to have to answer by people that agree with your outlook is what money can you raise and what else you bring to the table.

Since people donate lots of money to charitible causes every year, it is possible to get money donated to a political campaign irrespective of the agenda, but as I keep saying, it takes work.

You also have to show the ability to tap into sources that are not traditional Democratic givers. If Hope Warshaw gives you money that otherwise she would give to Fabian Nunez, that doesn't help advance any cause except your own self interest and people who spend a lot of time in politics understand that.

People in politics may respect an endorsement from a Hope Warschaw, but they are looking for who brings their own support to the table and whether or not that support is possibly transferrable, hopefully to them.

As an example, Steve Westly's main strength is not just his pocketbook, it's also a lot of Democratic elected officials that are hoping they can use his contacts to tap into Silicon Valley money for their own purposes.

None of these factors by themselves should stop women from running for office, nor do they have to (Notice Carly Fiorina just declaring for Lieutenant Governor as a Republican against Tom McClintock) but you are right that women don't like the idea of putting themselves forward into that type of situation. I however think more of them would consider running for office if they understood that such situations are not avoidable.

The system is what it is and frankly it's not that much different from the system in the rest of the world. Politics is generally not as much about cut and dried issues, as it is about the allocation of resources and women in the rest of the world have by and large not had any problem in participating in cutting up that pie.

I would however argue that they are not doing so in the United States and to a large extent it's their own fault. As Cassius said to Brutus (or as Ed Murrow said to Joe McCarthy) "the fault is not in our stars, it is in ourselves." In this country the failure of women to hold political office is also a history of them failing to try.

HB said...

My point in bring up the Casey/PA thing, and the Rep fight in CA, was merely to show that both the Reps and Dems are trying to widen the tent and that leadership in both parties try to influence outcomes. I did not say they succeeded. Whether or not they are successful is almost besides the point, b/c we were talking about women's perceptions. And the bottom line is that women do wait to be asked, and without leadership asking, the perception that women are not wanted as candidates is hard to overcome.

You can blame that on the women, or the parties, or both. But, blaming only one or the other is not going to solve the problem.

As for raising money, again, it's a perception problem. Women raise as much as men do, and in fact, in some years, more, lots more. But, if you ask a woman on the street if women can match men at fundraising, they're likely to say no. That is in part due to bad reporting.

And people may mistrust the media, but they don't generally challenge the stereotypes the media perpetuates b/c those stereotypes resonate with the "facts" the readers already "know."

BTW - I've read the Constitution, the Constitutions of the original colonies, Madison's notes from the convention, the writings of the Federalists and the anti-Federalists from the Founding through to Calhoun, and hundreds of letters of correspondence between the Founders (whom I worship) and I've never seen anything suggesting the Founder's wanted money to be part of the election system, other than some thinking property ought to be a pre-condition for political participation. But this is different than elections spending. So, I'm not sure I understand what you're getting at, other than are you saying the Founder's would have approved of our current campaign finance system? Not sure why you went there or how it relates to the topic, which is why women don't run.

Let me reiterate - my point, in all of this, is that there are multiple forces at play here. Yes, some of it is women's choices. And some of it is socialization and stereotyping, and some of it is structural. It's a fool's game to try and pick one among these. They all must be changed to some extent in order for women to participate in the political system in numbers that approach equality, AND, in the places in the world where these issues have been challenged and addressed, women do okay.

doughnut70 said...

My purpose in pointing out money in the founders intentions was because I think it was very clear that their concern at the Constitutional Convention and afterwards was not to let the rich rule (although a few did have that purpose) but instead to put a check on both the masses and the politically powerful rich who otherwise would steal from the wealthy who happened to be temporarily unpopular.

These people in the original Convention were mostly upperclass merchants and landowners who wanted to protect themselves from capricious political tides and had seen other successful people lose everything they had when political leaders turned on them. By and large, the founders didn't want the rich to make all the rules, but they wanted them to have some extra weapons if needed for defense.

Property in most of the early writings was another way of saying money (Several argued that people should get extra votes based on the amount of property they owned) and yes, I do believe the founders would basically approve of the current campaign finance system, although I also think they would find it too restrictive.

That point doesn't directly relate to the topic except that we hear so much about the concept of "one man, one vote" that although most people know they don't have the same amount of political clout as say a Warren Buffett, they think that's because the system got messed up along the way, when the reality is that it was always supposed to at least give the rich some extra protection and campaign reformers are the ones trying to change the norm.

So any woman who wants to run for office has to know at some level that she has to find some people with money to support her (and I tried to make the case that it couldn't be traditional givers, they have to find their own donors). There are enough rich people of all political persuasions that I don't think that's hard, but for candidates, it's part of the job.

My point about parties influence is that many people believe they have more influence than I think they have.

In reality, very few people get elected because they are backed by the party establishment. You hit the nail on the head when you talked about women liking to be asked and the bottom line to what I was saying is that it is never going to happen on any regular basis and even if it did, the people asking don't really have the power to deliver. In this country, politcal power has to be taken, not given.

My point in all of this was that yes, there are powerful forces at work against women including socialization and stereotyping and maybe even some structural obstacles. But the same types of obstacles have existed in one form or another virtually everywhere else where women have shared in power.

You can say I am simply blaming one factor for the failure of women to hold office in this country, but in the end that one factor is in my opinion the one factor that is holding women back from political power in this country. They are a majority of voters. They don't use the power they have. You can see women have enough economic clout when you look at how many products in the stores are geared directly to women. But I think the question to this whole thread is how do women get more political power and why has it not happened.

My opinion is that women need to be told that the rules are never changing in any significant way at least in the near future. Money which is generally regarded as the root of a lot of problems will never leave the system, at least not anytime soon. It took a small downturn in influence after Watergate, but it has grown since then (and again contrary to popular myth, we still do not spend as much money on elections as they spent in the mid 60's, we simply report it better). So nothing of significance about the rules of the game are changing.

The only question as far as possible change whether or not women who comprise a majority of voters will decide to participate in the game the way it is currently played (maybe to change it down the road).

My impression and why I posted on this subject originally is that I think a lot of women are misled about what it takes to hold office(the sexist stereotypes that we both know exists) and they also hope that things will change about the rules of the game. I also believe that if women understand that is not going to happen, they will be more likely, not less likely to get involved in politics and like women in so many other countries, take on a larger share of running the government, which I think would be better for everyone.

cd said...

As for party leaders recruiting candidates and deciding who will be elected, show one place in California where that has happened in a race for State Assembly.

Only in a special like the Ted Lieu seat or once every blue moon in a regular election for a marginal seat. But to think that the party leaders can stop a primary fight is just not backed up by history.


HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA. LOL. HAHAHAHAHAAAA.

Oh man, that was a good one. Phew, nearly wet my pants on that one . . . .

Anyway - back to a more on-point response.

Here are some responses to some of my favorite doughnut holes of the past few days:

I think you have to say something is seriously wrong when a group that is a majority of voters in this state holds so few elected offices and I think part of it is that they are not told the truth about what it takes

Who is it who gets let in on these truths, then? What magic trust is given to - it seems - men and not women so that women so badly misunderstand how darn simple it is to get themselves elected? Who is it who should be telling them?

In this country the failure of women to hold political office is also a history of them failing to try.

Seriously, I hardly know where to start . . . I'm just awestruck by that statement.

On Heather's point - which relates to the study I'm desperately trying to get my hands on - it is worth noting how damn many men with relatively few qualifications feel themselves qualified, while many women with impressive resumes still assume there is someone better than them to lead. Are they wrong to think so, yes, absolutely, they should be running. But when such impressions are so widespread across a culture, do you really think faulting women is right? How on earth can you honestly think that it's all the fault of silly, lazy, ignorant, women?

On campaign finance and the Founders: I think they would weep at what's become of their carefully erected system of separated powers when Congress enacts ambiguous, ridiculous legislation and the courts in turn force the branch responsible for executing those ridiculous laws to construct faulty regs from the already faulty statutory language.

And after they'd wept for that, they'd move on to weeping for the insanity of the whole system.

And after that, they'd encourage their decendents to go into political law.

Warren Buffet: has seemingly more power because money has given him a larger microphone. But his political powers is limited, to say the least. What gives a man more than a vote is his neighbors forking over theirs by their inaction. but that's another post . . . .

On asking, taking, and being given office: political parties do still have power. being the establishment candidate is a huge benefit. women are not heavily recruited (and, frankly, though Emerge is doing an excellent job training women leaders, it doesn't seem to be doing too much to make things easier by courting the party establishment - but that's another post. one that will likely never be written) and their lack of recruitment is evidenced in their diminished presence in the Capitol, etc.

On the rules and women: doughnut, you do realize that your entire premise for this entire thread is based on the idea that women are inattentive to the political world. that they have tin ears and no eyes. women are, in fact, over half the population. whether or not they are really over half the population of registered voters, i haven't checked.

but here's another faulty premise: you presume women will only be adequately represented if they are proportionately - or even near proportionately - numbered in the legislature.

which brings me back to Phoblog Question And Motivation For Blogging, Thinking, Serving, And Leading #1: Whom do elected officials represent and how?

doughnut70 said...

As for party leaders deciding races, I can think of a couple of instances, but not many and would love to hear of some examples.

On your comment about my remark that I don't think most women specifically understand how the system really works, although I understand the sarcasm and realize that you are making a good point when you ask why men would understand such things and not women, I will stand behind my belief. For reasons I don't completely understand and that I am not willing to accept as gender related because they don't exist in other countries, women seem to have an idea that you get almost drafted to run for office while men understand that the system is set up as a competition where you are expected and even required to push yourself forward as the best choice to hold office. I think this is an appropriate attitude (although it's a topic some people would debate) because it reinforces the idea that you are trying to get a job working for the people, not being given an honored position because you are a good person. Men get that and for some reason women don't and I think the only way that can change is if it is honestly pointed out. I spend time tutoring kids in the inner city who have obstacles of incredible proportions placed in their path every day. The most important thing they have to learn is that the obstacles are not what you focus on, what you focus on is what you can control. Women need to understand that if they run for office more often, they will have a much bigger say in how things are run.

As for the founders and campaign finance, I think one of the impressive things about our history is that so many people still look to them for guidance two hundred plus years after they are gone and still respect what they have to say and often interpret it in different ways. But in my opinion they clearly wanted to let Warren Buffett have that larger microphone and taking it away from him will cause a dramatic change and has to be done very carefully. If you look at the history of campaign reform throughout the country, you don't see any places where it has really cut the influence of special interests, instead you generally see a dropoff in the power of the politically inexperienced.

On the power of the parties, no I don't think they have any substantial power, although that lack of power also means candidates have to create everything themselves which is an incredible task and which has led to the rise in power of political consultants who often provide these services intact to whomever pays them.

As for your comment that I believe women will only be adequately represented if they have proportional representation in the capitol. That is not an accurate summary of what I believe.

Women represent a cross section of political views across the spectrum and could just as easily be conservative as liberal and there is no reason to think that increased representation of women would lead to a lot of changes on any issues, even gender related ones because women often disagree with each other on these things.

But I do believe the system is worse off when any person or group doesn't participate and I would argue that the number of women holding elected office indicates that they are not participating at the same level men are and that's a bad thing for the system. As I said I support the Australia system where people are fined if they don't vote and I also think everyone has an unstated obligation to participate in some political exchanges of thought with their friends and neighbors and I think women are shying away from that.

As far as who politicians represent, I think it's pretty clear that the founding fathers expected them to represent the ideals of the voters of their electoral districts. There is a famous back and forth between Jefferson and Hamilton where (I am going by memory) Hamilton started off saying that political leaders should be chosen for their good judgement and past service to the community and given leave to follow their consciences once they hold office. Jefferson gave a blistering retort saying that for a politician to follow his own judgement when he knew the people who had elected him believed differently was to treat them as a mother would a child and to say that they couldn't be trusted to use common sense. He went on to compare the role of an elected official with that of a shop clerk minding the store while the owner is away on vacation. His point being that just as the clerk would have to use his own judgement on how things were done, he would still bend that judgement to keep things the way the owner would want them, a politician would occasionally do things that weren't popular in the polls, but should only do so if he really felt the people in his district were to far removed to understand the technacalities and once it was explained to them (which is what is supposed to happen during campaign season) would then approve of the action. Politicians are supposed to reflect the people.