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Fri Mar 23, 2018, 09:47 AM

An observation about women in politics

Last edited Fri Mar 23, 2018, 02:33 PM - Edit history (1)

As many of you know, I have been pushing back hard on the moves to drive Nancy Pelosi out of her leadership position, Diane Feinstein out of office and Hillary Clinton out of sight, hearing and mind. The most common argument for their banishment is that 1) they’re too old; 2) they’re too “establishment;” 3) they’ve been around too long; and 4) we need “new, fresh faces and ideas.”

These excuses are particularly galling to me because they seem to be applied almost exclusively to women, while men of the same age aren’t pressured to get out of the way for these reasons. In fact, their age and experience leads many to lionize the most as seasoned and experienced.

I’ve noted in an earlier OP that women politicians are caught in a Catch-22. Unlike men, they aren’t taken seriously until they develop a deep well of experience. But as soon as they do, they’re treated as has-beens who need to get out of the way to make room for newer, fresher faces.

Women have not had the luxury that men have always had - to appear out of nowhere and rise to the top quickly and/or reach the top with little or no experience. Instead, women have constantly had to prove that they have what it takes to be leaders and the only way they could do that was forcing themselves into the arena, keeping their heads down, working their asses off for years.

But what happens when they finally manage to do it? They get criticized and mocked - by Republicans AND Democrats - as "too establishment," as "tools," as "past their shelf life,"etc. - and then they're told to get out of the way and make room for "new faces" (which, big surprise, are usually whiskered).

Meanwhile, men stroll (and are often carried) into the ring in and stay there for as long as they want without anyone telling them they need to get out of the way. In fact, people like McConnell and Biden and Sanders and Hatch and McCain (I'll stop here, but could list names forever) are fawned over as elder statesmen who have the experience and chops to be effective in their jobs.
https://www.democraticunderground.com/100210297887


As I think about this, I see an additional issue, especially for women “of a certain age.” Unlike the men of their generation, Baby Boomer women didn’t have the option to start plotting a political career right out of college since that just wasn’t a realistic goal for most women, regardless how talented and committed they were. Moreover, while men could launch a political career (or take the types of demanding jobs that help pave the way for such a career) and have a family at the same time, women usually had to choose between a family OR a career. As a result, many women of that era opted to have families and either not work outside of the home or work in jobs that were less time- and attention-demanding and that didn’t interfere with and, often advanced their husband’s ambitions.

So, the talented, fierce, brilliant Nancy Pelosi, the daughter of a popular mayor, and in whose blood politics bubbled, didn’t jump into a political career but, instead married, moved to California and started a family. Over the years, she got involved in local politics as a volunteer and rose up through the ranks, playing a support role - raising money, working behind the scenes within the state party and eventually, the DNC. Once her children were grown, she finally entered elective politics herself, winning her first Congressional race in 1986.

Hillary Clinton and Diane Feinstein have similar stories. Feinstein was elected to San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors in 1970, became Mayor in 1978 on the heels of a tragedy and became a U,S. Senator in 1993. And, as we know, Hillary Clinton took her first elected office in 2001 after she was elected the junior senator from New York.

Compare these women to male politicians whose long experience on the national stage is treated as an attribute, not a detriment. For example, Bernie Sanders has been in Congress for 28 years and an elected official since 1980 - a total of 38 years. Biden was in the U.S. Senate for 37 years, VP for another 8 and a visible public figure and potential presidential candidate for the last year and a half - a total of 46 years on the national stage. But their long tenure leads people to laud these men as sage, elder statesmen with the wisdom and chops to lead the party forward and are being encouraged to run for President touted by more than a few, notwithstanding their previous failed presidential bids.

On the other hand, Diane Feinstein has been in the Senate for 25 years - 21 years less than Biden has been in national politics. Even if you count her years in local elective office, she’s been in politics only two years longer than Biden has been on the national stage. Nancy Pelosi has held office for 32 years, 6 years less than Sanders and more than a decade and a half less than Biden.

And Hillary Clinton held elective office for only 8 years and federal office for a total of 12 years. Even if you count her time as First Lady, the years between stepping down as Secretary of State and her presidential run, and the time since the 2016 election, she’s been on the national stage for only 25 years - compared to Sanders, she’s a pretty fresh face. And next to Biden, she’s a mere ingenue.

Yet while these men are being urged to run for higher office because they have the experience we need in a president, these women are being told to step down or go away because they’re too old or too not new.

Perhaps if they had had the same choices available to them that their male counterparts had, and started their elective political careers earlier, they would have gotten these years of experience under their belts decades earlier at a much younger age and wouldn’t now be seen as old women who need to act their age and know when to move on to make way for younger models.

But they didn’t. They did what they had to do in the times they were living. And now they’re here and they’re smart and they’re strong and they’re effective and they have every right to stay right where they are for as long as they want to remain here. Just like the men.

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Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 24 replies Author Time Post
Reply An observation about women in politics (Original post)
EffieBlack Mar 2018 OP
MineralMan Mar 2018 #1
mcar Mar 2018 #2
cyclonefence Mar 2018 #3
Wounded Bear Mar 2018 #4
EffieBlack Mar 2018 #5
SnowCritter Mar 2018 #6
MLAA Mar 2018 #7
spicysista Mar 2018 #8
EffieBlack Mar 2018 #19
irisblue Mar 2018 #9
ehrnst Mar 2018 #10
tblue37 Mar 2018 #11
EffieBlack Mar 2018 #17
qwlauren35 Mar 2018 #12
askyagerz Mar 2018 #13
EffieBlack Mar 2018 #22
askyagerz Mar 2018 #23
lark Mar 2018 #14
BobTheSubgenius Mar 2018 #15
brer cat Mar 2018 #16
ismnotwasm Mar 2018 #18
Atticus Mar 2018 #20
Cha Mar 2018 #21
betsuni Mar 2018 #24

Response to EffieBlack (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2018, 09:48 AM

1. Excellent points!

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Response to EffieBlack (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2018, 09:55 AM

2. Brilliant!

Such good points here. Thank you Effie.

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Response to EffieBlack (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2018, 10:00 AM

3. Perfectly correct,

perfectly expressed. Thank you.

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Response to EffieBlack (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2018, 10:02 AM

4. Funny, but I would apply at least 3 out of 4 of those comments to Bernie and Biden, too...



Seriously. I have no problem with Pelosi taking over the House again, if she wins the votes of the caucus, which she probably will.

I don't criticize Hillary much, I don't say much at all about her, because she's mostly out of the public eye. But I certainly still value her insights, and she's a helluva fundraiser for us, no matter what anybody says. And if Feinstein wins her seat back, which it seems pretty likely she'll do, I'm all good with it.

Love the enthusiasm in support of Dems in general, and in our leaders in particular, though. If new people can come in and "take over" through democratic means to fight for Dem values, I'm good with that, too. Time moves on.

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Response to Wounded Bear (Reply #4)

Fri Mar 23, 2018, 11:19 AM

5. Exactly!

If good, new people come along and win spots in the appropriate way, that's all well and good. But the demands that Pelosi "step aside to make room for new faces" is ridiculous and insulting. And it shows an ignorance about what a Leader does. It's not a job for a neophite with no experience just because they're a "fresh face."

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Response to EffieBlack (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2018, 11:34 AM

6. Well said!

N/T

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Response to EffieBlack (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2018, 11:43 AM

7. Right on, EffieBlack. You said it well. 👏🏽👏🏿👏🏾👏🏻👏🏿👏🏾👏🏽👏🏻

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Response to EffieBlack (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2018, 11:57 AM

8. Another awesome post!

Perfection as always, EffieBlack!

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Response to spicysista (Reply #8)

Fri Mar 23, 2018, 07:10 PM

19. Thanks!

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Response to EffieBlack (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2018, 11:58 AM

9. You got it Effie

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Response to EffieBlack (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2018, 12:30 PM

10. As always, spot on.

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Response to EffieBlack (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2018, 12:32 PM

11. Another excellent and on the mark post, EffieBlack. Wow. You have been on fire

these past few weeks!

Just curious--are you a writer?

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Response to tblue37 (Reply #11)

Fri Mar 23, 2018, 02:36 PM

17. Yes, among other things

Thanks!

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Response to EffieBlack (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2018, 12:35 PM

12. Good stuff.

Great analysis of the situation. It's common in all "public" situations, such as TV news reporting, where we always get a fresh young female face. It reminds me of the ads on TV for wrinkle cream... for women. As though men don't get wrinkles. I think about Trump, who is old, fat and dumpy, getting a job as president. That just sucks. Talk about a "new face" "trumping" one of the most experienced presidential candidates we've ever had.

So, I completely respect your pointing out such a glaring double standard. I hope more people will read this meme, and give it thought. I may rebump it a few times, just to try to get more people to read it.

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Response to EffieBlack (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2018, 12:39 PM

13. Get rid of them ALL

20 years is too long for anyone to be in politics. Doesn't have anything to do with being a man or woman. Its helped create the situation we are in now. Politicians just gather too much baggage over the years and lose likability. Therefore making it hard for anyone from a different district to be able to work with them without their voters freaking out.

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Response to askyagerz (Reply #13)

Fri Mar 23, 2018, 11:45 PM

22. We already have term limits. Its called voting.

Term limits will give us a Senate full of Ted Cruzes with no Ted Kennedys.

VOTE!

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Response to EffieBlack (Reply #22)

Sat Mar 24, 2018, 01:04 AM

23. I couldn't agree more

We shouldn't need term limits because the voters should realize when a politician has become a liability to their party on a national level.

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Response to EffieBlack (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2018, 12:39 PM

14. Thank you Effieblack and totally agree.

The denouncing of Hillary, Pelosi and DiFi is truly misogynistic when the reasons only apply to women and never to the men. This has needed saying here for a while and I'm glad you brought this valid point to the forefront.

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Response to EffieBlack (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2018, 01:08 PM

15. The list of questions needed is pretty short.

- Is her stance on issues consistent with yours, and the party at large?

- Do her background and experience include or exclude her from consideration?

- Once elected, is she doing the job?

It's really pretty easy. Hopefully, the difficulty in making the choice of nominee is one of selecting the best person from the field of great contenders. Funny thing....should be just the same process for selecting (or not) a male nominee.

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Response to EffieBlack (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2018, 01:20 PM

16. K&R

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Response to EffieBlack (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2018, 02:52 PM

18. K&R

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Response to EffieBlack (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2018, 07:27 PM

20. Let's stop nonsense like this: "I don't support (whoever) because he/she is

male/female; too old/too young; too black/brown/white/whatever; gay/straight."

Are they honest?
Are they reasonably intelligent?
Do they have a thick skin and a rigid spine?
Are they tolerant and thoughtful?
Are they at least somewhat idealistic?

If they are favorably regarded after these questions are answered, who cares about that list of irrelevancies?

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Response to EffieBlack (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2018, 09:41 PM

21. Yes they do, Effie.. every last one of them!

Thank you for bringing the whole picture into focus.

Women in politics.. young and older with more experience

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Response to EffieBlack (Original post)

Sat Mar 24, 2018, 01:34 AM

24. Beautiful!

Thank you.

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