Unless something changes, we can expect Bush to pack the Supreme Court with justices who threaten every right women have gained. Roe v. Wade is the first issue, but equal pay, overtime, all kinds of workers’ issues, the war in Iraq — those also are issues of concern.
Clearly, the social conservative movement is all about fear over the roles of women and men. No matter how many women enter the workforce or begin to climb the ladder, their cultural roles never change — they’re still wife and mother. Even among our own progressive movement, gender is neither a priority nor an issue we understand deeply. So we have to analyze the situation and understand the role gender plays in this conversation.
It is no small thing to have had the most amazing progressive organizing campaign in my lifetime. I know that this election will convince young women to run for office. With our voter mobilization effort, Vote, Run, Lead (http://www.voterunlead.org), we seeded our next step. During training, we brought in a diverse, progressive group of young politicians to speak to young women. They demystified politics and inspired many to consider running.
Young women are not apolitical: Seventy percent of them volunteer and act personally on issues they care about. They like to touch and feel them, engage them by tutoring people one-on-one. It’s our job to take that instinct and that talent and show young women that if they want to have an ongoing affect they have to get involved politically.
In the long run, this is the only way we can make permanent change. If we could channel all of the energy spent trying to hold back legislation that negatively affects women’s lives into women having power and making policy, it would be a whole other matter. We can’t stop fighting, but we also have to get people into power.
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