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    • 2020 Fundraiser Update
      We’ve raised just under $6,000 so far, which means we’ve reached the first goal at $5,000 – five linked articles in a series about political concepts and how to actually use them. Most people learn political and economic concepts, but the knowledge really does them no good, since they no on explains when they work […]
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If Iceland can accept a gay woman as head of state, why does that seem so unimaginable for the United States?

(Cross-posted at Founder’s Blog, 51 Percent and Heidi Li’s Potpourri.)

Time for another thought experiment (admittedly, one not far removed from recent and present realities). Imagine if the United States were facing an unprecedented financial-social crisis, the makings of which had been brewing for years and the solutions to which were far from obvious. Suppose the mood of the country favored genuine unity. Genuine unity, of the sort that Churchill asked of the British people as they faced years of grueling warfare against Nazi Germany; deep social cooperation to solve deep  problems, not just starry-eyed rhetoric penned by a twenty-seven year old.

Suppose that the U.S. had a well-respected political leader available, one with a history of successfully addressing problems of social welfare, the sort of problems that the economic crisis will generate and exacerbate and which will have to be addressed if the the social – and therefore, economic- fabric of the country are to be restitched.

To this point in our thought experiment it might seeem quite obvious that the U.S. would turn to this leader. But now, include these variables: this leader is 66 years old and looks and acts consistent with that age; this leader is a woman; this leader is openly gay and has listed her domestic partner on official websites since such websites have been in place; this leader is a highly ambitious politician, somebody who sought to develop and cultivate her own political following, although also has shown the ability and willingness to work with and across political dividing lines.

Johanna_sigurdardottir_icelandpm_226_ap

JOHANNA SIGURDARDOTTIR

Try to figure out which variable would most weigh against this person as the choice to lead the United States in time of such crisis.

Apparently, none of them are preventing Iceland from coalescing around Johanna Sigardardottir as the Iceland’s choice for its next Prime Minister.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Europe: The almost equal gender balance of AMs in the Welsh assembly has transformed how politics in Wales is conducted, according to a new report.

The “Strict” 30% Solution?

Discussin

Discussing

There was a very interesting discussion on The Confluence last night about the 30% Solution. Some concerns were being raised about always voting for a woman, no matter what. People were calling such an approach the “strict” 30% Solution. As the coiner of this term, I had never heard this variant, and I’d like to address it in this post.

First of all, the 30% Solution is not just about voting. It is important to vote for women in order to achieve it, but in countries where the critical mass has been reached and surpassed, voting was not the only method of putting more women into national office. Some used quota systems, some revised their election procedures – some enshrined the percentage into their Constitution. In other words, the change occurred both at a grassroots level and at a governmental level. Thus, the entire responsibility for the success of this effort does not rest solely on your vote.

In fact, one of my ideas for reaching critical mass earlier is to use our many, many PUMA voices to reach out to the RNC and the DNC, and demand that in 2010, the next slate of new candidates for national office will include at least 30% women.

As many may be aware, John McCain promised gender equity in his Cabinet and a significant increase in the number of women in power by the end of his first term. This makes me think that the Republican Party may be open to my idea, in order to appeal to what could become the largest voting bloc in America – women and men who support them! And if the Republican Party does it, the Democratic Party might feel inspired to do the same.

I am hoping to start some discussion on this idea by posting it here. What do you think?

Continue reading

PUMA Cocktail Party: Cherish the Ladies

There have been several publicized reports of the effects of women in politics. Bottom line: “it’s a good thing”, as Martha would say.

For example, take the recent study on math education that was in a recent issue of Science. All things being equal, girls perform as well as or better than boys in math. There is only a slight difference in spatial abilities and these differences vanish with the top performing girls. But the researchers noted that some countries showed much better female performance than others. When they examined the factors that lead to discrepencies between countries, here’s what they found:

Having recognized gender gaps that expanded and contracted from country to country, Sapienza and colleagues examined social features that might explain the changes. Other researchers had shown that social conditioning and gender-biased environments can impact test performance, so Sapienza and colleagues used four tools to measure how well women were integrated into each society compared with men. The first measure was the Gender Gap Index (GGI) developed by the World Economic Forum (WEF; see Hausmann et. al. 2006). “There are a number of variables that go into the Gender Gap Index,” said Sapienza. “For example, it measures resources given to women who want to work, such as maternity leave and child care facilities. Participation of women in labor is also a big factor, as is their role in political leadership.”

Ding! Ding! Ding! If you want more equality, better quality of life, more opportunities, elect more women. The magic formula is 30%. With 30% of the body politic composed of women, you should see a profound change in society. Like, maybe we won’t have election wins for women nullified in favor of a male candidate? It’s a thought.

So, tonight, we are celebrating women in politics. We have a slate of women who need your help this year, ‘cos they sure as heck aren’t getting any from Obama. Take a look at our ActBlue for The Confluence page and send a few buckaroos to the lady of your choice, or all of them.

Welcome to the PUMA cocktail party! Now is the time to kick off your shoes, grab a drink ad relax with your friends. Our bartender with flair is Rico. You can find him to the left of the door working on a sudoku puzzle. His cocktail du jour is a snagglepooty. It’s a bit on the sweet side so if you prefer, you can purchase a Causmo for $10.00. Tonight’s cause is Heidi Li’s Democrats for Principle before Party to pay for ads in Capital Hill newspapers.

Our musical entertainment tonight consists of two sister acts: The Burns Sisters and The Guthrie Sisters who teamed up for some sweet harmony on this bluesy tune:

Ladies and gents, we run a respectable joint. If you’ve got something to say that is likely to break some chairs, take it outside or leave your trigger words with our lovely checkroom attendant, Florence. The waiters will be circulating soon with duck confit with black cherry spread and bleu cheese, sea scallops with bacon and green apple and haricot verts with valencia oranges and hazlenuts. Please dring responsibly and tip your wait staff generously.

I’m off to back to school night. I’ll be back at 10PM EST for Conflucians Say on PUMA United Radio (PURrrr) and we’ll pick up this cocktail party where I left off. Later taters….

Friday: Democrat’s Dilemma

Occam's Donkey

Occam's Democrat

So, I heard that Palin gave an interview yesterday and the Tweeties are already shredding it.  The NYTimes has an article about how Palin’s pipeline is still vaporware.

Know what?  I don’t care.

Like we don’t know that there are forces out there trying as hard as they can to turn us off our food when it comes to Palin.  The Teaparty Ten are hitting the talking head circuit shaking their fingers at us lest we abandon women to the Republican forced pregnancy squad.  They must think we’re stupid.  We’ve looked at the prospective Congresscritters’ web pages and a vast majority of them never mention reproductive rights.  So, Barbara, Claire and Gloria, if you don’t go back to your older and wiser men who are in charge and tell them to put their money where their mouths are with respect to abortion, you might as well be picking table setting colors for the next Senate Ladies’ Auxiliary Garden Party.

Here’s the thing, oh mighty powers that be:  all primary season long, you have been telling us to get in line, corraling us like the women of some puritanical middle eastern country.  You haven’t offered us anything in return.  Our votes were seized, our candidate humiliated, our choices eliminated.  Some of you have even written letters telling us how tiresome and irritating we are for asking for something for our votes.  You’ve given us Barack Obama who has never met a principle he cherishes so much that he wouldn’t give it up in the name of post-partisanship or political expediency.

When it comes to the two nominees we have to choose from right now, both options leave us cold.  In the one case, the Democrat turns his back on his party when it is convenient while the other asks us to turn our back on our party to embrace the one that gave us 8 years of Bush.  The Democrat has short coattails while with the Republican, we may end up with one party rule.

But there is a potential tie breaker.  It’s Sarah Palin.  Despite the fact that her view of government is vastly  different than ours, her candidacy offers us something.  After she is elected to office, women who come after her will have an easier time getting to that top spot.  And if that is true, then she may be doing more for women’s issues than any one of the Teaparty Ten who are appealing to the ladies.  The next female candidate who runs for president may actually make it.  It may take four years before we see a pay off but the long term goal is extremely attractive.  Maybe we can get universal healthcare, full day kindergarten, equal pay in our lifetimes.

It’s tasty.

So, all you guys out there furiously spinning the double standard that a first term governor of a state with two international borders is somehow less qualified to learn on the job to be VP than the first term Senator of a landlocked state is to learn on the job to be president, save your breath.  When you took Hillary Clinton out, the game became much bigger than your petty interparty politics.

We’ll take it from here.