Sunday, June 18, 2006

Phoblog Feminist Nag Of The Week: Up, Coming, and Male

Capitol Weekly has presents an article of 24 Up and Comers. The list includes several fabulous Phoblog readers (coincidence? you be the judge), but out of the 24, only 4 are women.

That's a pretty small percentage.

I know lists such as this one can't be endlessly long, but I bet with a bit more searching - even a teensy bit - the publication's staff could have dug up a few more examples of women who might also be setting the pace in the state that sets the pace for the nation.

Just a thought.


doughnut70 said...

I have posted on this before, but I will make some of the same points because they seem appropriate.

First, if you want to say that more women should have been listed as "Up and comers" then I think you should have given examples and with the number of people you know, probably come up with quite a few good ones. But even though there are some obvious omissions, the truth is that women do not have anywhere near the power they should have given their percentage of the population.

There are a lot of reasons for that,but it needs to be understood that the system is set up to reward those that work the hardest at giving the people what they want. If you show the ability to influence voters whether by writing checks or by getting people to the polls who will vote the way you recommend, you will have influence, a lot of it. But women in part because of a lot of cultural issues are reluctant to push themselves forward as the best choice, not on the basis of being women, but on the basis of being better qualified and as long as that is the case, they will be limited. It's like watching a little kid who doesn't want to dive in a swimming pool because they are intimidated by the water. At some point if they want to be part of the decisionmaking process, they have to fight the battles for power that the system has in place.

I also think there is a major problem because of the very real failure of female elected officials to create proteges at the same level the men do.

If you look at the list that was published, you see many examples of people in power helping the so called "up and comers" because they thought highly of them and virtually every man on the list referred to the people that helped them because they know they couldn't have made it without that mentoring. I think most men understand that is a part of what it takes to get ahead.

Probably the best example of someone finding mentors was Stuart Waldman who went from Bob Hertzberg's staff to Lloyd Levine's, even though the two elected officials don't get along and have different viewpoints on a lot of issues. Stuart did that by convincing both people that he would work hard for their agenda, not his own and made himself indispensible to the elected member in both cases. Too many women want to be asked instead of putting themselves forward and until that attitude changes, they will never have a major role in the system. People believe that if you won't fight for yourself, then you won't fight for them and since politics is a profession built around the idea of making society better, people that are not working hard for some type of change are generally not going to get very far.

But the mentoring is even more important than women's shyness because that gets down to role modeling. For example, one of the top Democratic political consulting firms for years was Skelton/Grover. When they split up, Parke Skelton was able to keep his firm growing as his ability justifies. However, Barbara Grover his partner who in the few races she has managed has a very successful record (Including getting Lloyd Levine elected in a huge upset) not only hasn't been able to get as many candidates as Parke (You could claim some of that is ability and some of it could be salesmanship but her overall win/loss record is very good) she also hasn't gotten the support she should have from the women she had helped elect who worked in Sacramento. A lot of money spent by Political Action Committees has its direction decided by elected officials and they often take care of their own consultants. But you didn't see women making sure that consultants who had helped them were taken care of. Instead you saw them happily sending staff members off to work on campaigns (or in some cases not even doing that) while not making sure that the people who were trying to make it professionally got their chance. Jess Unruh once said that any successful legislator spends as much time worrying about other peoples successes as they do their own because to get anything done, you need other peoples votes. Of the women who have made it in consulting or any other part of politics, where are their protege's. Where is the next generation? For that matter, where is the demand from women who are involved in politics not that women get hired for jobs they are not qualified for, but insted get put into positions where they can learn to handle any job in the process.

How about lobbying, since there was a mention of one female lobbyist. There is right now a major bill in the legislature involving cable access that probably qualifies as the full employment act for lobbyists. One side has hired Dede Alpert who is certainly well respected as a legislator and has enough respect from her peers that she clearly is a great hire and deserves the job. But I haven't heard of any women lobbyist on the other side, even though there are some women legislators whose votes they will probably get. Do you think any of them bothered to ask the question of why more women weren't in prominent positions or were they just interested in themselves and their own future?

Candidates? How many of the women currently holding elected office have female protege's that they are raising money for and helping to run for minor office in the hope they can move up someday. How many female candidates for lower level offices have they introduced to the major players in Sacramento to help them get started. Which of them has put women in places where they could EARN major responsibility.

If you want to be honest about the situation, the men in Sacramento have done a much better job of helping women move up than the female elected officials. From Phil Angelides making Cathy Calfo his top person for many years to John Burton making sure Fiona Ma won her State Senate race, just as he had helped Barbara Boxer before her to Kevin McCarthy on the other side whose whole staff just about was female and made it a point to ensure that women running for office as Republicans were fully funded to Dick Ackerman who went to the mat to make sure that Lynn Daucher was the Republican nominee for State Senate in the 34th District, men have been trying to create opportunities for women to advance themselves for many years. But women instead of understanding that everything in politics is competitive and there is very little where you start out as more than a 50/50 chance of succeeding don't seem to want to make that effort to move themselves up as often as they should and more importantly, don't look out for each other to make sure they get their fair share of the opportunities.

Women make up a majority of voters in California. If there are not enough women in power, it's because they are not trying hard enough.

Anonymous said...

Three things:
1) this comment proves Amber's point about short posts generating long comments while long posts get ignored.


3) i disagree with basically your entire premise (you know that already).

today's a big day for me, so i'm not going to go at this point-by-point for sometime, if at all. it's blog's-a-changin' day.

doughnut70 said...

Glad to hear you are keeping busy. I would point out as you refer to that any real study of politics in this country will show you that no real change in political power is ever engendered by the leadership of a group, it has always started on an individual basis by people specifically helping individuals that they knew well to move up in the system. I still think (in this country, not the rest of the world) that women are so grateful to be accepted into the system that they just want to fit in rather than trying to make the world a better place for others. I also think they fall back on their status as a minority too often since they are a majority of voters. Since you mentioned groups, what would happen for example if Emily's list said they were tired of this nonsense where politicians run their spouses for office and they were not going to support any spouse of an existing legislator? It would stop immediately. What if individual lawmakers asked candidates for statewide office what they had done to get other people elected that shared their basic political views instead of just asking them about high profile issues that are in the newspapers or whether they can cut a deal to advance their own career? It would change the whole dynamic. We may disagree, but again, women are a majority of the electorate. If they don't have their hands on the levers of power, I still say they need to stop pointing fingers in other directions.

Anonymous said...

From the last comment:
"I still think (in this country, not the rest of the world) that women are so grateful to be accepted into the system that they just want to fit in rather than trying to make the world a better place for others."

This is the most ignorant, sexist, backwards, unreflective-of-reality, juvenile drivel I have read since Arnold bragged about kicking nurses butts. I had planned to respond to the senseless, half-baked observations of "doughnut" in his first post until I read this. Now I see that he can't be taken seriously and I shouldn't waste my time.

Christiana -- thanks for the post. I read through the list and agreed. I could add dozens of women, including, but not any way limited to: Crystal Strait, Shawnda Westly, Tracy Pillows, and Janice Rocco.

doughnut70 said...

Sorry you feel I can't be taken seriously, but if not, I would be curious as to what your take is on why women don't both have more power and more importanly why women who do have power are not doing more to mentor younger women to follow in their footsteps.

CD at least referred to EmergeCA which is doing some good work for Democratic women, but that is a group that is depending on the handouts of a couple of wealthy philanthropists who are sponsoring them. My point and I still think it was valid is that if you read the listing of people in the story, almost all of the males listed talked about how they had been mentored and if you really looked at their background, you could see that not only were they given an opportunity, they were also put in a position where they could have done a lot of damage to their sponsor if they had messed up.

To use the specific example I mentioned earlier, not only did Lloyd Levine have to worry about Stuart Waldman's ability when he hired him, he also had to worry about the fact that a lot of Stuart's friends from his days with Bob Hertzberg not only had a different view of issues facing Democrats, but in many cases were working against issues that Levine supported. But in spite of that, Lloyd had enough confidence to give him the job. Can you give an example of a woman in elected office putting that much trust in another woman?

As for the reference to "in this country" I also think that was appropriate, because not only have most other countries in the world had a woman leader at some point, women are much more integrated into the poliical system and play a bigger role in all facets of politics.

Maybe you are seeing something that I am not and maybe there is something I am not understanding about why my comments are sexist, but to say that when women are a majority of voters in this country and in such an advanced society hold fewer political positions of power than they do in most advanced societies does say something is wrong with how American women specifically look at their role in politics. I tried for an answer based on my observation which is that a lot of women are so happy to have been among the few that made it that they are not worrying about creating opportunity for others. You feel I am wrong in that assessment. Okay, why do you think it's not happening?

doughnut70 said...

One more point. You mentioned (as I also said in my original post) that there were a lot of women that could have been included, but if you don't realize that the fact they didn't come up with more names was as much because there are not that many women in positions of real power as it was an intentional oversight, you are kidding yourself at least in my opinion. The writer probably should have been aware of a lot of people that belonged on the list, but his lazy prejudice is enhanced because women (in this country) haven't made it to the top of the system for whatever reason.

Straitshooter said...

Ok.. Doughnut...I'll bite.
What do you mean Levine had to worry about Waldman's abilities?

doughnut70 said...
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doughnut70 said...

The point was that Lloyd had more people who wanted to work for him than most freshman legislators, many of whom were very well qualified.

Stuart had been closely associated with people who at that time were Lloyd's political opponents and Stuart had not supported Lloyd in his election. There were doubts expressed about the choice for those reasons, but Lloyd went ahead and made the pick and he is very glad he did. My experience is that women are a little less likely to make those kinds of moves. Just for a point of information, did you find a spot of important decisionmaking for people that opposed your reelection as YD President?

But enough of that. Going back to my original point about women making choices, I made it a point to do a google search on the issue and found several articles by respected political scientists who made the same basic point I was trying to make and gave their opinions on some of the causes.

After doing that research, I think one part of the problem is that some people think that because there is a lot of personal nastiness of late in fact more of it than in many other civilized countries and perhaps American elections will get more civilized and that will draw more people to being involved, including women.

I don't think any serious study of the subject leads to the belief that is likely to happen in the near future and in fact most of the trend is towards a different direction, bringing more openness and competitiveness to the system, not less. Not necessarily nastiness, but more competitive races can mean more opportunities for people to act foolishly.

The only ideas that are being promoted in any serious way to promote less competiveness are Public financing, ranking your choices in voting and proportional representation. None of these except public financing are likely to happen in the near future and although the nastiness in campaigns is more a question of personalities than anything else, there are hundreds of ways people are trying to increase the competitiveness of the system and to get more people involved in the competition for power.

The basic idea of American politics which is to set up a combat of ideas where you actively try to convince your neighbor to join your side and whoever does the best job of that hasn't changed since our founding and it's not going to change any time soon.

But whether you think that analysis is correct or incorrect, the bottom line is that women still can have a major role in influencing the system today wihtout any changes in the way the game is played and like every other group in history, no one is going to invite them in to have that influence. Women are going to have to take that influence if they want it and since they are a majority of voters, it won't be that hard unless they start thinking other people are responsible for their predicament, at least in my opinion.

Straitshooter said...

LOL. So this is about my leadership style?

Dem politics are different than "real politics". This is about building mobilizing youn people and anyone that wants to do that has a seat at any table I'm a part of. Anyone that "opposed me" isn't a political opponent. I was elected to head a statewide organization that is run by membership and if you ask people they'll tell you that I don't cut people out if we disagree we figure out how to work together (even though I've been told this is not the "political" way), but then again that's what my mentors have taught me...

doughnut70 said...

It's good to know that someone is getting mentoring. My original comments (which may have come across as a rant) were motivated by the fact that I don't think enough people get that kind of mentoring and I keep hoping that fact will change.

Straitshooter said...

Do you know who some of my mentors are?

doughnut70 said...

Yes! In fact as one specific example, I knew your connection to Lloyd Levine when you made your earlier post.

Straitshooter said...

I have a connection to Lloyd Levine? ;-)

doughnut70 said...

You know, that's an interesting comment. It seems like in his distict Lloyd is very well known and remembered by people who have dealings with him.

But I have noticed he has never seemed to be as memorable to people who have dealt with him in Sacramento. Probably a difference in the quality of staff in both places.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the age old DO vs Capitol staff blood battle. I'm a former Capitol staffer myself, but I'm the spawn of two DO staffers. Go fig.

At any rate - I certainly lack the energy to catch up to the conversation thus far, except to reiterate my disagreement with the underlying premise and philosphy of d-nut's arguments. But he's known that all along - this certainly isn't the first time we've confronted this issue.

Do women have to step up and take the initiative. Yes. Is it ALL under our control - hells no, foo.

Did you blame black South Africans for apartheid? Do we deserve what we get because we wore the red dress and if we realllly wanted to change we could?

I have had some phenomenal mentors - men and women key in state government, law, and national policy. Many other women have as well and there are women in and around the Capitol here who would be more than happy to mentor others.

And don't get crazy on me: I generally hate people who bitch about a lack of group x on a particular list. But then again, you just have to look at the top of the Demo ticket over the past few cycles to get that we have a definite leadership vacuum in California (when it comes to women or just not-white-old-men-who-while-fantastic-public-servants-have-been-around-4-eva). Thank god John Chiang won his bid for the nomination because otherwise we really would have no one to groom for the future. And I love Joe Dunn (down, timmy steed! down!). But seriously, it would have been a noble and admirable gesture for lockyer to say, no, someone else take a shot, here, i'll help.

I'm thrilled Debra Bown won her race. I feel bad she'll be on her own.

It CAN'T be that hard to branch out. It also cannot be entirely our fault.

doughnut70 said...
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doughnut70 said...

We have talked about it before, but Bill Lockyer has a pretty long record of progressive stands and clearly he is showing all of that is important to him by the fact that he is running again instead of taking any of the major lobbying jobs that would be his for the asking. So why exactly should he step aside from work he both likes and it good at?

As for the other candidates, I don't mind you being happy that they won, but I really wish you would justify it on more than the fact of ethnic and gender differences. I agree that I like to see different people getting a chance, but I would be more impressed by people with a long record of making tough and successful fights to help those out of power, let alone someone doing a full blown imitation of Elliot Spitzer and really going after the people who try and game the system.

As for women, I stand behind what I said before. If you are a majority of the voting population and no on cheats you out of your franchise, then most of the responsibility is your own if you don't have enough power. The comparison to South Africa is silly.

As to women's groups in general, I think we will see a good example of their political sophistication by what happens to Jackie Speier. The fact is that she took her chances with some encouragement from those groups when most people thought she would drop to a lower office which she would have won easily. She worked hard in her campaign and frankly she has fought a lot of battles in the legislature. There is also no real obvious place for her to go in the near future. However, things change quickly in politics and if women's groups have learned anything connected with real sophistication, they will help Garamendi raise some money and find a way to keep Speier on a political track because they will realize that when someone works that hard, if they do wind up in an important office, then they do a lot with it. However, I am skeptical anything like that will happen because it would involve work and long term planning and that seems to be beyond a lot of people today. JMO!

Anonymous said...

let me respond to your first draft first in 3 ways: yes, it's better, and time, to let a newbie have a shot at being brave. and treasurer and controller are not THE most important offices in the land, though they are still important. lockyer doesn't want to cease being an elected official, that's why he's running - and i don't blame him for the desire to stay in the ring, but why is a dedicated legal eagle duking it out for *treasurer* for pete's sake. we'll always disagree on that. second, i dislike "feminist groups" the way you use it. none of the examples of helping others you use need be gendered in anyway and you are missing my point. third, you know already that i think you undercut your entire argument and credibility when you end with that @$^#%& "JMO" crap.

Now, on the comment that appears above:

I NEVER support a candidate SOLELY because of his or her gender or ethnicity. The closest single-characterisitc factor I'd probably ever vote on was if a candidate were a stag or athena. if you want me to list the reasons I would vote for Debra Bowen even if she were Daniel Bowen, I'd be happy to, but that wasn't the point of the post or the comments to begin with.

How, pray tell, dear Nut, will people develop a record of courageous leadership if they are never allowed to lead? John Chiang has already been an officeholder for awhile now and in his young life has been a dedicated public servant and party servant - he came up through YDs, etc, and has done well all the way along. So he should be elevated to another level and Lockyer/whomever should recognize that he can best serve the future of the state by encouraging and mentoring younger leaders. He doesn't get a cookie for not being a lobbyist - and I don't think being a lobbyist is a bad thing to begin with. I would shut up about him had he done what I think is a truly brave thing in these days of constant role-switching and bowed the hell out. Are you SERIOUSLY going to tell me that you didn't get a bit fed up early this year when all the big guys were changing their minds by the hour about which office they would pursue? The message that sent to me: Dear California, we don't give a shit what job we do, we just like the state car. Few of these people were running because they wanted THE job. They wanted A job.

Jackie Speier probably should have run for AG or Governor. That would've been a race I'd have loved to have seen - either one of them. She has the guts, experience, and one hell of a story to explain how she got where she is today. Plus, my friends who have worked for her say she's a good boss, which, for staffers, is the highest praise possible.

Whether it's JYO or not, Nut, I think your views on women's roles and abilities are condescending and shortsighted, whether you think so or not. I'm not waiting around for someone to groom me and when I work for someone, it's because I believe in the work and the person, not because I feel I need more time on the bench before I'm fully-cooked. There are PLENTY of women out there doing it for themselves - just like men do - and those will lead us higher in power soon enough. Difference: we don't spend our lives figuring out how to take credit for every blessed thing, we just get shit done. We're the biological embodiment of the Catch-22 and I wouldn't have it any other way.

But it ain't all our fault that people currently in power naturally look to their buddies when making a list - I don't even fault them for it entirely, it wasn't a *bad* list, just an incomplete list.

Anonymous said...

I think can think of a few more names - Christiana Dominguez and Catherine Hazelton.

BTW, thank God for John Chiang is right. Too bad the term limits shuffle prevented some good new faces, including several women like Jackie Speier and Deborah Ortiz, from getting elected. Sorry Lockyer, Cruz and Garamendi...I'm getting tired of the same old stuff.

This is another reason good women candidates don't get elected - the old boys don't know when it's time to exit stage right.

There's my rant from Florence!

doughnut70 said...

First, I suspect that you drastically underestimate the power of the Treasurer and Controllers offices, Most people think those offices are primarily staff driven, but in reality there are so many choices that come down to the bosses decision about how money should be spent, they have incredible power, much more than say the head of any major corporation. But maybe I am misunderstanding your point and it doesn't seem real important to the overall issue, so I will leave it alone.

As for Bill Lockyer, your post gets to the heart of the matter. Our elected offices are supposed to be the end result of a competition where people try and convince voters they would do the best job of the available candidates, not some sort of a social club where activists pick people based on who their friends are or who they have known the longest. My argument is that activist are not willing to hold their friends accountable and are way too quick to want to see them move up. I am sure most people have heard the Benjamin Franklin quote repeated, "In politics there are no permanent alliances and no permanent friends". Someone added to that "There are only permanent interest groups" and there is of course a lot of truth to that, but elected officials are supposed to be a check on the powerful. That's their primary role, not to become accomplices to help the powerful along their way.

I think the fact that (because of laziness in my opinion) our society is moving away from that ethic will help to keep groups that don't have enough say in our system out for longer than it should. I think that is especially true with women who clearly have more than enough voters to force their way to the table any time they choose to and should be looking for ways to challenge elected officials that take generally take their votes for granted.

If someone wants an idea of what a politician is supposed to be like (instead of offering a silly quasi excuse like maybe they haven't had the opportunity in their career to face tough challenges yet) the person to look at is Elliot Spitzer of New York. If anyone wanted to do some research on Spitzer's career and the challenges he has taken on, I think they would understand exactly what I am talking about when I say too many people who are currently in the process in our state don't work hard enough and don't take political chances.

Maybe CD is right (and in case someone is wondering how I wound up on this particular blog, I did a little work on CD's fathers campaign for State Assembly many years ago) and things are okay, but I don't think so and I think it's important that some real analysis be given to how people involved in California politics make decisions. I just don't think the people giving support really understand accountability or what hard decisions really are.

To give an example of what I mean, this past week many Democratic legislators were faced with a very tough decision that could conceivably affect their future political careers. That was the bill by Kevin Murray that would have had an impact on Ron Burkle's divorce proceedings. Without going too much into the nuts and bolts of the issue itself, any person opposing the bill had to know they were taking a major risk of losing political support from a major donor and yet several stood up to the plate and took a stand. Whether you agree with the decision or not, it was clearly a gutsy move on their part (see I do recognize that occasionally legislators will take chances).

However, I don't believe in two years when women's groups make their endorsements for offices, that they will remember how people stood on that bill or who led the way and I certainly don't think many feminist donors will go out of their way to reward the elected officials who made that tough choice. Instead they will be like King Lear doing everything for his daughters because they say the right thing. Until that changes, the special interests are always going to have more power than they should and people who are out of power will stay out.

doughnut70 said...

One other quick comment. CD talked about candidates not having a background specifically tailored for the job they are seeking. In my observations, most of the importance of what an elected official does at any level is not in technical details. They usually have very large and dedicated staffs for that. It is in the value judgements they make when they choose what roads to take. That is why a lot of people want to stay in office because even if the job is not their field of specialty, they can find ways to help the people they think need helping. It's certainly not the state car in most of their cases.

Anonymous said...

Some one should point out that while the statement regarding female consultants by CD is accurate, Grover pretty much left consulting to focus on photography -- that is perhaps why she doesn't get much work.

Anonymous said...

Uh, by someone, do you mean, like, you. 'Cause you kinda just did.

I hadn't said anything about Grover specifically that I recall. Another commenter did . . . .

doughnut70 said...
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