HERE’S A SHORT VERSION OF THE POINTS I’VE PUT FORWARD IN MY THREE PREVIOUS POSTS:
Read my op ed pasted in below “What Obama needs to do to attract women’s votes” in the Chicago Sun Times, One of Obama’s hometown papers. If you concur, send the link to Sen. Obama via this feedback form from his campaign website to make your voice heard.
Chicago Sun Times
July 16, 2008 Recommend
What Obama needs to do to attract women’s votes
GENDER EQUITY | We don’t need ‘Women for Obama,’ we
need ‘Obama for Women’
BY GLORIA FELDT
Barack Obama has been working on party unity. So OK, he and Hillary
Clinton made their symbolic symbiotic appearance, he phoned Bill, and the
melding of the two campaigns’ influentials has begun, despite PUMA
(“Party Unity My A–”) diehards who demand the snowball’s chance pick of
Clinton for vice president or threaten to vote for John McCain.
I understand that in politics someone wins, someone loses, and you move
on. So it’s not a question of which lever I’ll pull; it’s a question of how much
fervor women like me, who had our hearts set on seeing a woman take the
presidential oath of office, can muster: whether we’ll also write checks,
make calls, and otherwise work on Obama’s behalf.
Thus far, a fundamental commitment to women is missing in Obama’s
words and deeds, despite his campaign’s big “Women for Obama” events
and smaller meetings with influential women who supported Clinton. The
void is exemplified by the ease with which he backed off his opposition to
the federal abortion ban when questioned by evangelicals recently, then
moved back in a shockingly clumsy triangulation on this core principle.
Obama can’t win without women. He must not merely organize “Women for
Obama”; he must be “Obama for Women.”
Don’t say, “You’re welcome to join us.” Say, “We need you,” because you
do. Women are the majority of voters, especially Democratic and
progressive voters. More than half of Clinton supporters have already said
they’ll vote for you, but you’ll need them all, and you must remember they
expect you to respect women as central to the political process.
Convince us supporting you won’t mean half a loaf. McCain already has
former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina on the hustings. John Kerry got
only 51 percent of women’s votes because he squandered the opportunity
to advance an agenda that would draw them in.
Don’t tell us what you feel. Show us what you’ll do. We know you stand for
hope and you love your wife and daughters. How will Obama for Women
actualize that in policies?
1. Name enough women to your inner circle to reach gender parity. Rolling
Stone’s look at your 18 top advisers shows only three. Commit to gender
parity in your administration, too. You need diverse perspectives anyway to
prevent the groupthink that has deep-sixed surer winners.
2. Make the sexism speech. Make it with the same passion and personal
engagement as your courageous racism speech. Affirm women’s equality,
justice and human rights. Deliver it Aug. 26, the anniversary of the 19th
Amendment giving women the right to vote. You’ll be at the Democratic
National Convention in Colorado, where there’s a ballot initiative to make
the fetus a more important “person” than a woman. You’ll break the
impasse of another debate that has divided America, rather than
succumbing to the same old polarized abortion debates.
3. Publicly advance an agenda that’s bold and meaningful, not incremental.
Start with the Equal Rights Amendment (finally), and the Freedom of
Choice Act, which codifies the civil right to make childbearing choices.
You’re already co-sponsoring the Freedom of Choice Act, so cease
gratuitous pandering about mental-health exceptions and affirm that
women’s rights, including reproductive rights, are human rights, period.
Your Web site’s women’s page lists economic equity measures like equal
pay. That’s great, but talk about them in mixed company, too.
The primaries showed women aren’t a monolith or a single-issue bloc. But
we do have serious interests to which attention must be paid by any
candidate who wants to earn both the votes and enthusiastic women who
brought Hillary Clinton within a hairsbreadth of the Democratic nomination.
Obama for women. Now that’s change we can believe in.
Gloria Feldt blogs at Heartfeldt Politics and is former president of Planned
Parenthood Federation of America.
The views expressed in these blog posts are
those of the author and not of the Chicago
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