Random Thoughts by Angie King
This is a long ramble about men and women and politics and peoples’ private sins. We have had a long list recently of men in politics who have done despicable things in their private lives (leaving wives’ on death beds to marry eye candy; lying about one’s whereabouts to meet an Argentine mistress; being found a wife batterer by the courts; "sexting" to random women, etc, etc).
Note they are all men behaving badly. Two issues (well, at least two) arise here: which, if any, of these private acts impacted their ability to act publicly in the political arena, and, are women any different?
And, then, if the acts complained of do not impact the person’s ability to hold the public office in question, does it matter how they act in their private lives?
Yes, and no.
Yes, because in many if not all of the cases, the men involved have been hypocritical, in the extreme. The whole "C Street Gang and their mentors come to mind. They want to make your life miserable but exempt themselves.
Publicly embracing a Puritanistic code of ethical behavior for everyone with dire consequences for transgression, they blatantly violate that code and expect no consequences.
Do as I say, not as I do. I am above your laws, those laws you elected me to enact and enforce. Is that the kind of person we want in office?
Some outright lie about their behavior, which calls into question their veracity in other matters and their ability to fulfill their oaths of office, as in So. Carolina Governor Sanford. Others appear to have been just plain stupid, following that "second brain" that only males are endowed with – and you know what I mean.
Clinton, Spitzer, Wiener. In Wiener’s case, the accusation that forced his resignation was that his behavior had become a distraction that made his representation of his constituents ineffective.
In any case, whatever the reasons, women have fewer sex scandals, and even those who do, have demonstrated an ability to remain focused on their responsibilities in office, not succumbing to distractions.
They are perceived by the voters as better able than men to be problem solvers with the right priorities, according to Celinda Lake, a nationally known Democratic pollster.
So, shouldn’t more women be running for office given the current climate?
The Center for the American Woman and Politics at Rutgers University is promoting women to run for office in 2012. It will be the first election under newly redrawn congressional districts; many veteran legislators have already announced their retirement and others are expected not to run in 2012, thus creating an opportunity for new faces to emerge.
It is a Presidential election year, which always brings a larger turnout.
But they are not. Women were increasingly running for office, and winning, surging in 1992 (not coincidentally the first election following the prior census redistricting).
By 2007, women reached the densest levels in the Congress in 40 years: 17 senators (of 100) and 72 representatives (of 435), still not very good numbers. Since then, there has been a steady decline. Only 6 states now have a female governor; the number of women in state legislatures is down this year by a thousand over last year; only 21.9% of statewide offices (AG, treasurer, governor and lt governor, secretary state, comptroller, etc) are held by women, which is one quarter as many as 10 years ago.
As Geraldine Ferraro, a true political pioneer for women, once said, "Every time a woman runs, women win."
We can’t afford to miss the unique opportunity for that victory in 2012.
Once that door closes, it won’t be as wide open again until after the next census — and we can’t wait until 2022.