Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

04 September 2007

Wooing women with hope instead of fear

On Friday Kimberley Strassel, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, pondered why the GOP isn't out wooing women voters the way she thinks they should be wooing us.

Democrats understand that they need women to offset what tends to be a permanent advantage for Republicans among male voters. Al Gore's 54% women's vote got him a crack at the Supreme Court. John Kerry's 51% women's vote only got him back to the Senate.

A smart Republican candidate would be doing Twister moves to deny Democrats those votes. Yet what's extraordinary is that no GOP contender has yet recognized the huge opportunity to redefine "women's" politics for the 21st century. That's a double failing given that the GOP could win modern women by doing little more than tailoring their beliefs in freer markets to the problems women struggle most with today.

Her two big issues that should be easy wins for the GOP in courting women is the unfair tax structure (one that Linda Hirshman also touts outside the election arena) and flex-time at work. Huh you say? Did you also think that GOPers hated flextime?

Strassel points to a 1997 proposal by then-Senator John Ashcroft, Senate bill 4 entitled the "Family Friendly Workplace Act." Yeah, for me whenever I hear GOP and family friendly together, I think, DANGER WILL ROBINSON! The purpose of the bill sounds good too:
To amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide to private sector employees the same opportunities for time-and-a-half compensatory time off, biweekly work programs, and flexible credit hour programs as Federal employees currently enjoy to help balance the demands and needs of work and family, to clarify the provisions relating to exemptions of certain professionals from the minimum wage and overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, and for other purposes.
According to NOW, the power to "pack 45 hours into the first four days of work, then knock off early on Friday to catch Jimmy's soccer match" laid in the hands of the employer NOT the employee and thus there was no guarantee that this flex-time would result in the rosey picture that Strassel paints. Currently the Bush Administration is working to strip most workers of overtime benefits and I would assume that fabu flextime too, if that Ashcroft bill had ever passed. While legislation has often been thwarted, the Bush Admin is working thru EEOC to have rules rewritten.

But Strassel's basic premise is that these are new ideas. They aren't. They are old and there is one good reason, to me, that they remain old to the GOP. They don't give two shits about working families.

Strassel also positions her argument that:
The Democrats' own views of what counts for "women's issues" are stuck back in the disco days [by discussing] the usual tired litany of "equal pay" and a "woman's right to choose..." The rest of the female population has migrated into 2007...But for the 60% of women who today both scramble after a child and hold a job, these culture-war touchpoints aren't their top voting priority. Their biggest concerns, not surprisingly, hew closely to those of their male counterparts: the war in Iraq, health care, the economy.
I say that equal pay and our right to choose is PARAMOUNT to all the other issues.

When a working woman finds herself with a surprise pregnancy she has two choices and only two choices: carry to term or terminate. Does she have health insurance that will provide prenatal care? Allow her to deliver in her hospital of choice? After the baby is born, will the baby have health care? Does she have a job that is paying her enough to cover day care? Perhaps if she was earning that extra 23 cents for every dollar, she might be. That's about where the wage gap is right now and while I'm not an economist, I'd say that is part of the economy.

As for the war, any person can clearly see that if we took just a fraction of the money we're blowing in this war we were lied to about, we'd all have the health coverage we'd need.

So, yes, let's have the GOP try to tackle these issues. Let's see them explain why we can spend a zillion dollars in Iraq each week but New Orleans is still a mess, children die from a lack of dental insurance, and why low-wage mothers have to "choose" between unsafe child care and working to pay the bills.

I'd be very interested in these answers. From both sides.

Technorati tags: politics, Election 2008, GOP, Democrats, Republicans, women, Gender Gap, feminist, NOW

1 comments:

And how cool would it be if the candidates actually came to us to find out these things?!

I'm contemplating an open invitation to the candidates on both sides to meet with us. Talk to us. Find out what women--moms--really want. Not just what their staffers and pollsters tell us they want.