Let Them Eat Cake: US Politics

The latest cover of the Mexican edition of Vanity Fair is particularly telling. While the photo of the First Lady is recycled, it’s a telling photo given the recent budget from the President’s administration. Some of the responses of the photo essentially say that the photo is in poor taste. I saw the photos and thought of Marie Antoinette saying, “Let them eat cake.” Although we do not have proof that Antoinette said this–the phrase fits. Let them eat nothing, while I twirl  my diamond necklace like pasta. One would think that the timing of recycling the photos could not be worse.

I was watching The Purge: Anarchy with my daughter and once the movie ended she asked if this situation could actually happen. Then, we had a conversation about US politics and the current administration’s treatment of the poor and aged. We talked about the probable dismantling of the Meals on Wheels program if the proposed federal budget is realized. I’m no Pollyanna and know that throughout the history of the United States there is no love for the poor. Somehow we are supposed to be industrious and be magically successful and not have to rely on the government. Note sarcasm. This current administration appears to hate women, the poor, most people of color, immigrants, queer people, and more. Gone are the days of compassionate conservatism or Ronald Reagan Republicans.

It is no wonder that George Orwell’s 1984 and other novels set in a dystopic future are selling well. We watch, stream, or listen to the news and we wonder if it is an episode of Saturday Night Live since it cannot be real. We have a Twittler in Chief who seems to angry tweet and has no problem libeling and slandering people. We are a witness a Bully in Chief and a change in US politics. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s site detailing the increase in hate crimes makes me sick. I wish I could not take this seriously and count the days until the next election. However, that is not my way. How are you coping with the current events?

 

Grab Your Popcorn: Republican National Convention 

This next week we will see the Grand Old Party, Republican Party begin the Convention season in Cleveland, Ohio. The Republican National Convention (RNC) has descended on Cleveland, and it will be a rocking, raucous performance of patriotism and most important a celebration of the party’s political platform and presumptive nominee, Donald Trump. This last year’s presidential election and primary and caucus season was like no other. Sure, there was the usual suspects and at one time almost two dozen candidates; however, when Trump threw his name into the ring many wondered if this was real and others nodded in support of his campaign. We witnessed the political dynasties rise and fall. The so-called Republican establishment did not perform well. Recall, Jeb Bush at an event asking the attendees, “Please clap.” This was not a shining moment for the Bush dynasty.
Tea Party darlings did not make as much progress as some suspected. If anything, this election was about forecasting and humility. I know that I have said repeatedly that I need a hat made into chocolate so that I could eat it. I suspected that Bush, Rubio or Kasich would make it further, and they did not. It’s clear that this was the anti-political establishment election. And, couple this with the #summerofviolence, #blacklivesmatter, and countless other hashtags on social media channels. It is clear that there is lots of political and social unrest in the United States.  

What will we see at the RNC? We will see lots of red, white, and blue. Multiple references and endorsements to the party’s platform, references to the sanctity of the nuclear family, endorsement of Trump, references to the Judeo-Christian God, and the repeated taking down of the Democrats and their presumptive nominee, Hillary Clinton. The speakers will go out of their way to explain how they are different than the other party. 

The RNC is a moment of promises, wishful thinking, and a look back at the way things used to be and how we can return to this time with a Republican president in the White House. Make no mistake, both conventions will be political performances rife with platitudes, and condemnations of the other party. Make sure that you look at the websites for each conventions, as it’s interesting to see how the conventions are laid out and the array of services for the attendees. Grab a bag of popcorn, a notepad and pencil or your smart phone. There will be lots of sound bites and media ready quotes from the array of speakers. 

Fri Fun Facts: Gay Marriage/Same Sex Marriage

Today’s Fri Fun Facts is dedicated to thinking about the continued fight for human rights in the US. Yes, I’m weighing in on Gay Marriage or Same Sex Marriage. I have to share that this issue is such a no brainer here in Victoria, BC Canada. Same Sex Marriage is legal in Canada since the Civil Marriage Act was passed in 2005. Wait, yes, just 7 years ago. Canada joins nine other countries:

Argentina, Belgium, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and Sweden. There are other countries that allow same-sex marriages to be performed and then another group of countries that recognize same-sex marriages, but do not allow them to be performed. Let’s think about what is so problematic to 30 of the states in the US, which have taken special care to ban same-sex marriages.

1. “50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second and 74% of third marriages end in divorce, according to Jennifer Baker of the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Missouri.” via DivorceRate.org. This does not say much to the whole “sanctity of marriage” line of argument. Looking for divorce statistic is interesting, as the data varies depending on the source that you examine and the government records them according to the number of divorces within the population: Divorce rate: 3.4 per 1,000 population (44 reporting States and D.C.) via http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/divorce.htm 2009 data.

2. Many supporters of the ban refer to the Bible. The most commonly quoted saying that I’ve heard, “The Bible refers to Adam and Eve and not Adam and Steve.” Fair enough, but I we don’t have everything in the Bible literally. And, not everyone subscribes to the teachings in the Bible. Using the Bible as the guide to politics might offer a short-sighted means of thought and practice.

3. We need to think about how the 14th Amendment offers equality under the law. The bans do anything but this and actually discriminate against unmarried partnerships (heterosexual) and against the LGBTQ community. Why are we allowing hate legislation? This is a human rights issue or a civil rights issue at the very least.

4. Bans against Same Sex Marriage are draconian at best. What they really demonstrate is that bigotry is alive and well and seeping into the law. We need to re-think the motivation for these sorts of laws and respond.

I support same sex marriage. And, unfortunately the Congressional Representative who does not represent me is in support of banning same sex marriage. Thankfully President Obama noted on May 9th that he is now in support of same sex marriage. With today’s Fri Fun Facts I am sending supportive energy to my sisters and brothers who demand that their families are protected by the states they live in or visit.

This was one of two emails that I received within hours of Obama’s interview.

Women and Politics: Reflections on “Poised to Run”

Why don’t more women run for office? This question has perplexed activists, party elite, academics and others. In “Poised to Run: Women’s Pathways to the State Legislatures” by three scholars affiliated with the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), Kira Sanbonmatsu, Susan Carroll and Debbie Walsh, offer some answers.  Frankly, their Executive Summary is worthy of a poster. I encourage you to read the full report at http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/research/reports/PoisedtoRun.pdf .  But, I am going to review the Executive Summary.

  1. Women need to be recruited
  2. Political Parties Matter
  3. Organizations Help Women Run
  4. More Women Can Run
  5. Resources are Important

The truth is that two major points holding women back are institutional sexism that permeates most of the points noted above, as well as women themselves. Women are less apt to think of themselves as experts in a field (see Informed Opinions for more information). Likewise, party gatekeepers are also less likely to think of women as a successful candidate. Thus, recruiting women is important. Gatekeepers need to take special care to not only recruit and vet women, but to also nurture them through the pipeline.

Related to this is how important both parties and organizations are to women candidates. This is the official parties, but also partisan organization and multi-partisan organizations like the National Women’s Political Caucus, Chamber of Commerce, and other civic groups. We see more women running at the local or municipal levels, so there are women who can run. They just need encouragement. This encouragement needs to include financial support. The authors of the “Poised to Run” study note that it is easier for male candidates to raise money due to their connections and assumptions about the viability of their candidacy. Clearly, our elected officials are more educated and more wealthy than the average populace—especially when we look at federal elected officials in both Canada and the United States.

I am hopeful that during the upcoming election in British Columbia and 2012 election in the United States, that more women candidates will throw their hat into the race. And, I also hope that as you review this blog post that you see the full report and also think about supporting a woman candidate in your riding or district.

While this article was focused on the issue of gender, I surmise that the authors would also offer that race is important issue to examine as well. Looking at the federal levels of representation in Canada and the United States there is not parity based on gender or race among the sitting members of Parliament or Congress. However, the focus of this study was gender. I do encourage you to look at other reports published by CAWP http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/. If you want more Canadian focused research about women in politics, I suggest Equal Voice http://www.equalvoice.ca/.