Voting Power 2014

Shirley Chisholm

When Shirley Chisholm broke both racial and gender barriers to become the first Black woman elected to Congress in 1968 and later the first Black woman to run for U. S. president, she leapfrogged over more barriers to power than any woman considering a run today can even imagine.

Was she conflicted in her relationship with power? Just the opposite as the quote above indicates. How did she get that way and what can we learn from her on Election Day 2014?

My systematic research into many women’s ambivalent relationship with power began during the 2008 election season, when I wrote an article for Elle magazine about why women do—or as I came to find out, more often don’t—run for office.

Though women constituted 53% of the voters in 2012, Congress is less than 20% female and state legislatures are not much better.

At the rate women are advancing in Congress, it will be 60 years before gender leadership parity is reached. But more astounding is what I found in 2008 that stopped me short: it’s no longer external, structural barriers, though some do still exist, but internal ones that hold women back from fully embracing their political power. And there are far more similarities than differences in how this dynamic plays itself out in the seemingly divergent realms of work, politics, and personal relationships.

Image via Rutgers
Image via Rutgers

The personal is, was, and always will be, political.

I wanted to learn more: to understand what internalized values, implicit biases, assumptions, and beliefs about ourselves we as women haul around, like worthless cargo, hindering the full attainment of our potential as leaders and doers—what intricate personal and cultural constructs of power, the silent sinews that bind not only our political intentions, but our work lives and even our love lives.

vote_todayParadoxically, I’ve spent most of my adult life working for justice and power for others—African Americans, poor kids, other women. Not, as Jerry Seinfeld would say, that there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, I feel blessed to have been able to make my life’s passion for social justice into my life’s work. And my path is not so different from gendered behavior regarded (and rewarded) as laudable—being nice, putting the needs of others first.

Which is the point. Fighting for others seemed worthy. Fighting for myself, or something I wanted, did not. And many younger women today tell me they experience similar reticence, even as they seek role models and mentors to teach them differently.

Yet all effective leadership is rooted in the language of power and the willingness to embrace the power one has. If women are ever to complete our staccato journey to equality, we must join the discourse and become deliberately fluent in power’s meanings and nuances.

While the men around us operate as though they own the world—because, for the most part, they do—women have to work consciously to assume that place of intentional power and agency. Women’s inner struggles parallel the pushme-pullyou history of our social and political advances.

It’s this relationship with power—almost a spiritual factor, rarely acknowledged by the metrics or even the philosophers, which I’ve witnessed in myself and countless other women—that fascinated me and propelled me to undertake writing my book, No Excuses, ultimately leading me to cofound Take The Lead. For until we redefine our relationship with power, we will stay stuck in our half-finished revolution.

And that matters for two reasons.

First, we will remain able to excuse and justify our lack of progress by pointing outward rather than owning our part of the responsibility to take the harder road of pushing forward courageously as Chisholm did.

Second, until we can stand confidently in our own power, we won’t be able to lead ourselves or others with intention. If we allow that to happen, both women and men will remain constrained within lives of limited gender stereotyped possibilities, lives that keep us all from achieving our full human potential.

The Right Honorable Kim Campbell, former prime minister of Canada (and the first head of that nation’s government), put it this way: “Look, power exists. Somebody is going to have it. If you would exercise it ethically, why not you? I love power. I’m power-hungry because when I have power I can make things happen, can serve my community, can influence decisions, I can accomplish things.”

Why not you, indeed? Why not any one of us?

And if a courageous woman like Shirley Chisholm could blast through seemingly impermeable barriers to run for president half a century ago, surely each and every one of us can at a minimum honor her memory by voting today and every Election Day.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

Start Your Own Game: Muriel “Mickie” Siebert — Leadership Lessons for Women from Wall Street

muriel

A few days ago, I went to the best funeral I’ve ever attended.

It’s unusual to say that about an occasion normally considered sad and somber. But the memorial service for Muriel “Mickie” Siebert, a well-known finance executive in the U.S. and the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, goes down in my book as a perfectly delightful send off.

Mickie founded her brokerage firm, Muriel Siebert & Co, Inc. which became part of Siebert Financial and went public in 1996. She also served as New York State’s Superintendent of Banking (referring to herself in her 2008 autobiography Changing the Rules as the S.O.B.). Mickie’s career has lessons for all women, no matter their occupation:

  • Have a dream and go for it.
  • Start your own game if those in power won’t let you into theirs — or even if they will but you prefer your vision of how things should be.
  • No matter how high you climb, help other women rise and keep them close to support you.

muriel2Mickie’s was a life well and publicly lived. When Cantor Angela Buchdahl started belting out “My Way” to the mourners packing Manhattan’s cavernous Central Synagogue, a communal knowing smile spread as fast as spilled water. (This made me start planning what music I want at my funeral.)

And when Rabbi Peter Rubenstein observed that Mickie did not depend on God for anything, nor did she “suffer from undue humility,” laughter erupted.

There were many stories.

Her New York Times obituary headline initially said she was 80 at the time of her death. I told my husband she appeared to be somewhat older. Turns out my assessment was accurate. The Times later issued a correction.

For Mickie was actually 84. She gave her age as four years younger than she was. In fact, White House security once refused her entry because her birth certificate and driver’s license dates didn’t match.

Oh, there were plenty of tears amid the laughter. The Kleenex boxes thoughtfully placed at the ends of pews traveled back and forth. Hundreds of women and men from various parts of Mickie’s life dabbed their eyes when U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) talked about how Mickie “rewrote the rules to make them fairer.” And more tears as David Roosevelt recounted how his grandmother Eleanor had been a role model to the “pugnacious” Mickie, who had driven from Cleveland Ohio to New York in an old Studebaker with nothing but $500 and a dream back in 1954.

Speakers included people she had worked with, Friends in High Places (apparently her political friends were mostly Democrats though she remained a “bleeding heart” Republican), and women from “new girls’ networks” she’d started, and in which she remained active until her death from cancer.

That all her honorary pallbearers were women reveals why I frequently tell Mickie’s career story when I speak or teach about women and leadership. She realized it wasn’t enough to be a female “first.”  So what if you’re accepted into a formerly all-male bastion, you still need your network of women who support you. And you in turn have a responsibility to bring other women through the door you have opened.

As her friend, public relations executive Muriel Fox  said, “Muriel Siebert was one of the few prominent women in the business world who proudly said, ‘Yes, I am a feminist.’ Mickie proved that outspoken feminism is not a handicap, but is a powerful asset, in achieving business success.”

According to the Wall Street Journal , she was “…an outspoken advocate for financial literacy and for women’s advancement on Wall Street, she often did that both through encouraging others and bucking a system intent on keeping her at the margins.”

At the funeral, I sat with colleagues from the New York Women’s Forum in a section set aside for us. Though I had long admired her legendary shattering of that Wall Street glass ceiling in 1967, I knew Mickie primarily from the organization’s holiday parties. She hosted them every December, holding court with her beloved dog Monster Girl, in her elegant apartment on the East River.

Inevitably, Mickie, who famously loved to sing, would whip out song sheets. Everyone had to join in the anthem with lyrics by Forum founders including Siebert,  Fox, and Elly Guggenheimer. Sung to the tune of “One” from A Chorus Line, it starts, “We. Are. Feminist achievers, everybody knows our names (kick, kick). We are positive believers (kick) in the power of dames (kick kick kick)…”

Having seen her in that social setting, I was moved to hear a business partner Suzanne Shank recount how they’d started Siebert Brandford Shank  in 1996 and grew it to the largest women-and minority-owned finance firm. Others lauded Mickie’s commitment to transparency in finance.

These are not values normally associated with Wall Street. That her business associates chose to speak of them indicates that despite the kind of success that so often corrupts, and despite her vaunted toughness or perhaps because of it, Mickie retained her integrity and sense of social justice through a long and storied career.

What clearer evidence can there be that anything is possible if one has the vision to see the possibility, the courage to go for it, the will to persist, and the competence to carry on successfully? “The real risk,” she once said , “lies in continuing to do things the way they’ve always been done.”

The flags on Wall Street were flown at half-mast for Muriel Siebert on the day of her funeral.

“If you can’t play with the big boys,” she was fond of saying, “start your own game.”

Because she did it her way, women today routinely enjoy workplace choices she had to fight to attain.

Though Mickie’s voice is stilled, her impact — like the songs she loved — go on. We poured out of the synagogue, stepping into the bright August sunshine to the lively beat of “New York, New York.”

Be sure to watch this video on Mickie Siebert

(Originally published on www.TakeTheLeadWomen.com)


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

Women’s Equality Day and the Civil Rights March

It was all over the news for days. Every pundit, every political talk show, every newspaper march-on-washington-widerunning big retrospective spreads. Op eds galore, and reminiscences of what it was like to march together toward equality.

Today, August 26 is Women’s Equality Day, the day that commemorates passage of the 19th amendment to the US constitution, giving women the right to vote after a struggle that lasted over 70 years. A big deal, right?

Right. But that’s not what all the news was about. In fact, though President Obama issued a proclamation and a few columnists like the New York Times’ Gail Collins gave it a nod, hardly anyone is talking about Women’s Equality Day. At least not in consciousness-saturating ways that garner major media’s attention, as Saturday’s March on Washington commemorating the 50th anniversary of a similar Civil Rights march.

Yet the two anniversaries are rooted in common values about equality and justice for all. They share common adversaries and aspirations. Racism and sexism are joined at the head.

And as League of Women Voters president Elisabeth MacNamara’s article in the Huffington Post explains, both movements today share the challenge of maintaining the right to vote, earned with such toil and tears and even bloodshed.

Like many people who participated in the 1960′s Civil Rights Movement, I celebrate how far America has moved toward racial justice in the last 50 ‘years. I am grateful to the Civil Rights movement for calling our nation not just to fulfill its moral promise to African-Americans, but by its example of courage and activism inspiring the second wave women’s movement, the gay rights movement, and so much more.

I remember having an epiphany while volunteering for a multi-racial civil rights organization called the Panel of American Women, that if there were civil rights, then women must have them too. That awareness ignited my passion for women’s equality which has driven my career ever since.

But just as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s galvanizing “I Have a Dream” speech thundered, “Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood,” (emphasis mine) and sisters were not mentioned, women have yet to rise to full equality when it comes to honoring women’s historical accomplishments and current voices.

And just as the commemorative March on Washington was a necessary reminder of how far we have yet to go to reach the full vision of the Civil Rights movement, so Women’s Equality Day is best celebrated by committing ourselves to breaking through the remaining barriers to full leadership parity for women.

Check out Take The Lead‘s two posts on The Movement blog calling attention to the auspicious anniversary.

The first is Susan Weiss Gross’s delightful personal story–the tractor being a perfect metaphor — of how she overcame her internal barriers to equality. The second comes from author and Ms Magazine founding editor Susan Braun Levine. Suzanne will be writing about “Empowerment Entrepreneurs” and how empowering each other is the latest development in women’s equality.

Read, enjoy, and then get to work along with Take The Lead, which I co-founded along Amy Litzenberger early this year,  in our 21st century movement to prepare, develop, inspire, and propel women to take their air and equal share of leadership positions across all sectors by 2025.

As the March on Washington twitter hashtag exhorted us to do, “#MarchOn!”


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

Two Generations Dissect Election 2012 and What’s Next for Women’s Rights

On election night, journalism major Maegan Vazquez joined about one hundred fellow New York University students over the beer soaked floorboards of Brad’s, a popular site for locals and college 20-somethings alike. Keenly interested in politics, she’s been writing a terrific weekly column for my Heartfeldt Blog, titled “The Young Politica.”

Across town, I chatted with a couple dozen men and women at my friend Loretta’s Upper East Side apartment. As guests slipped into spaces on the elegant couch and chairs, like the old game of Sardines, each sighed, “I’m so nervous about the outcome of this election.”

Nov. 7, 2012 – New York, USA – Young women celebrate the result of the 2012 US Presidential election at Times Square in New York, USA, 07 November 2012. Democratic President Obama defeated Republican candidate Mitt Romney in the US elections. Photo: Rainer Jensen (Credit Image: © Rainer Jensen/DPA/ZUMAPRESS.com)

The pundits had us convinced that what turned out to be a rout would be a cliffhanger.

Maegan and I e-mailed back and forth about our thoughts and feelings.

I quipped that every 20 years, whether we need it or not, we get a “Year of the Woman.”

Women were angry enough in 1992 to vote in record numbers. We’d watched Anita Hill being insulted by the all-male Senate Judiciary Committee when she claimed then U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her. Twin assaults on Roe v Wade, Webster v Reproductive Health Services and Planned Parenthood v Casey had brought icy shivers of fear that the reproductive rights hard-won by second wave feminists like me were in mortal danger.

Four pro-choice women were elected to the Senate—a record!—and women won 22 of 24 open Congressional seats that year, when pro-choice Bill Clinton was elected to his first term.

Enter 2012’s Republican War on Women

Again, there were a succession of high profile insults. To name a few:

  • 30-year-old Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke was denied the chance to speak about why contraceptives should be covered by insurance, and was rewarded by being called a slut by Rush Limbaugh…
  • An all-male “expert” panel pontificated on women’s reproductive health before a Senate committee (also all-male because the women on the committee were so incensed they walked out)…
  • Bills in Texas and Virginia sought to force women seeking abortions to submit to 10″ ultrasound “shaming wands”…
  • Indiana GOP senate candidate Richard Mourdock declared he opposes abortion even after rape, because pregnancy from rape is “something that God intended to happen”…
  • Missouri GOP senate candidate Todd Akin opined about “legitimate rape” and made the loopy assertion that women’s bodies reject rape-induced pregnancy…

Were enough women, especially younger women, again sufficiently incensed to vote in the numbers needed to sweep Barack Obama into a second term and set a new record for electing pro-choice women?

Says Maegan, “For my generation—the up-and-coming movers and shakers, the wide-eyed, and the ambitious—this election was a pinnacle moment in many of our personal histories. It is an era that shifts towards tolerance and equality of women, same-sex couples, and ethnic minorities. Yet, as we saw in the early stages of election night, it can just as easily be taken away.”

The mood at Loretta’s lightened when the Connecticut senate race broke for Democrat Chris Murphy against World Wrestling Association former CEO, right wing Republican bazillionaire Linda McMahon. Proving once again that women can’t be fooled by lipstick and a pink suit.

Cheers erupted for Maggie Hassan, who will become the only female prochoice Democratic governor in the country.

Bigger cheers when Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren was declared victorious over Republican Scott Brown.

Biggest cheers were reserved for Mourdock’s defeat, and in rapid succession, Missouri Democratic Senate incumbent Claire McCaskill wiped the floor with Todd Akin.

This War on Women had clearly been won—by women.

Maegan’s take: “Reproductive rights and women’s health remain behind the times, but we are getting somewhere. With women like pro-choice Claire McCaskill in office, instead of her women’s rights antithesis Todd Akin, the country can continue to trudge toward women’s rights reform.”

Maine and Maryland pass ballot measures approving same sex marriage. More cheers for that watershed.

And then the news comes that Obama is over the top—Ohio has once again been the pivotal state that makes him president. On East 77th, a toast, and a sigh of relief.

Maegan describes the scene at Brad’s bar downtown: “Suddenly, the chatty crowd erupts in a roar. The sight I saw on election night was similar to what many of my friends saw in other parts of the country—young people celebrating after their POTUS was reelected.”

Young people made up 19% of voters, an even higher percentage than in 2008. Maegan predicted students should soon be seeing legislation to reform student loans and Obamacare will continue to stream into effect. These are high priority items for her.

The numbers for women across age brackets were even more stunning.

Women as a whole made up 54% of the electorate. They voted for Obama by 55% – 44%. Unmarried women voted for Obama by a whopping 68% to 30%:

Twenty female senators will serve in the 113th Congress, the largest number in US history. Every Democratic female incumbent was reelected.

Journalist Irin Carmon’s salon.com piece taunted, “Still Want to Fight a War on Women?”

What does it all mean? The answer is in our hands.

It means the fight goes on. And any generation that forgets this lesson of history is doomed to repeat it, just as women did after 1992.

In 1994, the right came back with a tsunami known as the Gingrich Revolution and his infamous Contract with America. Many of the women and progressive men elected in 1992 were swept back out of office.

This happened not because women changed their minds but because they failed to vote in the same numbers as they had when they were agitated in 1992. Today, opportunity knocks anew.

After the nasty political acrimony of the last two decades, I believe there is a deep hunger for the leadership qualities women bring, a desire to fix the broken political system and change dysfunctional cultural paradigms. Women are more likely to work across the aisle to find solutions rather than merely engage in adolescent power plays.

But to achieve that goal and get the country moving forward—Obama’s campaign slogan–women must first claim their own power to lead themselves with intention. To take this precious moment in history and make the gains sustainable by advancing a bold agenda, and never withdrawing from the process again.

Too much has already been lost. It will take an enormous amount of work just to repair the damage of the last few years of assaults.

There are positive signs. Almost immediately, I received an e-mail from the Center for Reproductive Rights urging me to sign their Bill of Reproductive Rights.

I am gratified that this language now being heard everywhere—women’s reproductive rights are human rights. The contraceptive coverage movement I created at the national level in 1996 must continue to flourish and become truly universal until Sandra Fluke is recognized as hero, and no one would dare call her a slut. That recognition of women’s full humanity requires a culture shift bigger than we have never had before.

It’s time for the Freedom of Choice Act to guarantee women the right to make their own childbearing choices. Time to repeal the Hyde Amendment and its spawn. Time to insist the president fill the too-many empty seats on the Federal bench expeditiously, with people who respect women’s rights.

It’s time for the Paycheck Fairness Act and other economic policies that ensure all women and men get a fair shake.

For as Maegan e-mails me, “The President can do what he wants without the hesitation he faced during his past four years in office. If the POTUS will be remembered for anything after his presidency by swing voters, it will be his failure or success of stabilizing the U.S. economy.”

As a millennial, a woman, and a Hispanic, she lives at the sweet spot of where the voting demographics are going.

Her advice is exactly right: “We must fight for what we believe in, and continue striving towards our political desires through our votes and our grass roots movements and our voices. We cannot sit still waiting for a promised change. We must insist on change when politicians do not follow through. We must demand it.”

This post originally appeared on BlogHer.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

If Obama Wins Ohio, Fair Voting and Jennifer Brunner Get Credit

My grandparents were all immigrants from tyrant-ruled Eastern Europe during the early decades of the 20th century. They treasured their voting rights as only new citizens can, and they instilled in me their almost sappy love of the American ideals of liberty, justice, and fairness.

Having struggled to get to their promised land, they considered voting their sacred duty. Every election, no matter what. They weren’t naïve about politics, nor did they expect their favored candidates to win every time. They just wanted their votes counted honestly and their voices heard fairly.

They would have loved Jennifer Brunner, Ohio’s first female Secretary of State who served from 2007-2011. She’s a true American hero for cleaning up the state’s election system after its 2004 debacle, one that is remembered as one of the most sordid chapters in our nation’s history.

Ohio is a perennial battleground state. It has been pivotal to the outcome of every presidential election in recent history.  And since 1944, as Ohio has gone, so has the nation with only one exception, when voters chose Nixon over Kennedy in 1960.

Most elections are won or lost with a mere 2 percent swing. So the consequences of even a scintilla of voter suppression or a few malfunctioning voting machines can turn an entire election and change the course of history.  That’s why fair and honest elections are so incredibly important to American democracy.

In Brunner’s forthright memoir, Cupcakes and Courage, for which I was honored to write the foreword, you see firsthand the qualitative difference between a mere politician determined to stay in office even if it means jiggering the electoral system and an elected official who is first and foremost a public servant.

Brunner tells an inspiring story, full of juicy anecdotes that illustrate the power of the individual to make a difference. But unlike the single frosted cupcake on its cover, Cupcakes is not an individualistic story—far from it. Deeply rooted in values of family and social responsibility, she took those communitarian values into public service and audaciously trudged through bi-partisan criticism to protect the rights of the individual voter.

Brunner’s unwavering focus on fairness and transparency brought major changes to Ohio’s 2008 electoral processes, which in turn helped to restore voter confidence.  Her unflinching description of what she did and why after the 2004 presidential election turned on the shifting sands of Cuyahoga County’s voting irregularities deserves to be a political science class staple.

“Many have questioned the efficacy of our [2004] presidential election in Ohio,” says Brunner. “I simply questioned its fairness of process.”

Voting rights—yes, even in my grandparents’ rosy view of America—can be as fragile and as fleeting as they are in non-democratic nations around the globe. As a girl growing up in Texas, I heard the rumors of Lyndon Johnson stuffing ballot boxes in Jim Wells County with ballots of dead people. We might think those poll taxes, literacy tests, and other Jim Crow laws instituted in the South after the Civil War, and lasting well into the mid-20th Century, are well behind us.

But history is repeating itself this year in the wave of voter suppression initiatives sweeping the country. Just as a house that has been cleaned can become a mess again in record time, so the Ohio voting process that Brunner cleaned up—or any state that falls prey to divisive, partisan abuse of power—can, and in many battleground states, is faced with the risk of corruption and the contortion of the voice and will of its people.

As it has ever been historically, minorities often receive the short end of the voting rights stick. How tragic, considering that this country is the product of minorities, like my patriotic grandparents, at its core.

Since leaving office, Brunner started Fair Elections Ohio, a group that successfully fought back harmful Ohio voter suppression legislation, keeping 2008 voting rules in place for 2012.

In 2004, “Cuyahoga County” became a household term, and thus entered the political junkie’s lexicon as a metaphor for voter suppression.  If President Obama wins Ohio, it’s likely that he will win a second term as president. If so, he will have Brunner to thank—not for manipulating voting mechanism to favor him, but simply to allow the people to speak through their votes, the franchise of a free nation.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

The Young Politica: A Sudden Change in Voter’s Rights

Over the past six years, a new string of Voter ID laws has been pushed to legislation in 31 states. These laws require voters to show up with a valid ID at the polls. Voter ID laws, along with laws that allow those in the military to vote early, have been under the national spotlight in recent months, despite being practically invisible to the media when they were first proposed. These laws are ever-transforming and some are still being amended—less than a month before the presidential election.

There has been a recent push to delay Voter ID laws in many states until after the November election. It has been argued that this is the work of the Democratic Party’s agenda, because delaying these laws makes voting more accessible to the poor and the elderly; two groups which tend to vote Democrat.

Where are these changes happening and how will you be affected?

OHIO:

The most recent change in voting rights comes from the notorious swing-state of Ohio. A new voting right allowed all Ohioans in the military to vote early. On Friday, an appeals court ruled that there was no compelling evidence supporting that the military should be able to vote three days before elections if all other citizens could not.

A federal judge also deemed all votes cast in the right polling location but the wrong precinct should be counted.

SOUTH CAROLINA:

The state’s Act R54 requires all voters to show up at voting polls with a driver’s license, state-issued photo ID, passport, federal military photo ID, or a photo voter registration card in order to vote. While this has been ‘precleared’ by the federal government, it will not go into effect until 2013—after the presidential election.

TEXAS:

The Lone Star State is known for attempting to instill some of the nation’s strictest Voter ID laws. It would require a photo ID at the polls. Acceptable forms of ID included a state-issued driver’s license or identification card, a military photo ID, a passport, a U.S. citizenship certificate with a photo, or a concealed-carry handgun license. However, in late August, a federal judge overturned the law.

PENNSYLVANIA:

Similar to South Carolina, a Pennsylvania judge blocked a part of the state’s Voter ID law, saying that there had not been enough done to make sure all voters had access to photo ID. On October 2nd, it was decided that the new law would not be enforced for the upcoming presidential election. There is, however, a dilemma. As of yet, voter education efforts have focused on showing their ID’s at the polls. Since there is not too much time to promote their new strategy, the lack of information may discourage those without ID from showing up to vote.

WISCONSIN:

While a Voter ID law is in place, it will not go into effect until after the presidential election. However, there are ongoing efforts to reinstate the Voter ID laws before November 6th.

FLORIDA:

Floridians who do not bring ID to the polls must sign a provisional ballot envelope.

VIRGINIA:

The Department of Justice will allow for the state’s new Voter ID law to go into effect in time for Election Day. While it does not require a photo ID, it closes a provision that had allowed for citizens to cast their votes without showing any sort of ID.  The law previously allowed for those without ID to vote if they signed a sworn statement saying that they were who they claimed to be. This new law requires those who sign such a statement to later provide ID via fax or email in order to have their vote counted.

KANSAS, GEORGIA, INDIANA, AND TENNESSEE:

In these States, a photo ID is required in order to vote.

Depending on where you’re voting this November, know what form of ID to bring. Even this late in the game, politicians are still aiming to amend or repeal these laws before the big race. Check out this “Voting Laws Roundup” for a comprehensive overview of voting laws around the country.

Maegan Vazquez, a Texas born sophomore at New York University, brings her young woman’s lens on all things political to Heartfeldt Blog every Monday. Send news tips to maeganvaz@gmail.com

The Young Politica: Denver Debate Leaves College Students More Confused than Ever

At this point in the presidential race, students like myself do not have time to sift through crooked statistics and tired rhetoric. We have enough of those things on our plate already, considering that we’re reviewing for midterms.

Romney and Obama could have saved us the trouble. Most of the students I spoke with at New York University, which I attend, were already informed about the policy issues addressed during the televised train wreck. And those who were undecided said that they were still thinking through both policies because the debate offered little to them.

“I thought both candidates did an excellent job at talking their way around some key issues,” John Facey, a junior studying creative writing, said.

The candidates were just picking on each other like boys in the school yard. One friend likened Jim Lehrer’s authority to that of a high school substitute teacher: only after the fifth warning did the kids eventually settle down.

And just like almost every American who watched the debate on Wednesday, the student voter population was left scratching their heads once Lehrer finally called it a night.

“I think most of us left more confused about their policies after the debate than we did before the debate,” one female student in my journalism class commented.

Another journalism student: “All that Big Bird nonsense on Twitter was just hyped because there were no other money quotes in the debate.”

Between the proposed Sesame Street cessation, the possibly imaginary five trillion dollar budget cut, and Obama’s freestyle closing statement—the debate was full of laughable moments, despite the fact that some of my fellow NYU colleagues may have found it a bit boring.

Romney had been waiting for this moment for six years, while Obama had been running the country. It was blatantly obvious that Obama just wanted to celebrate his anniversary with Michelle. Many of the students I spoke to tried to reason the POTUS’ lack of animation:

“The dude looked pretty tired. And I think he looked kind of dispassionate while Romney was really fired up and ready to go,” Griffin Simpson, a sophomore studying political science said. “I think if you look past that—if you look at their actual rhetoric and what they’re both saying—Obama even at his worst held his own.”

Of course, many of the student voter population’s concerns about the economy were confronted by both parties; but Obama could have definitely helped himself if he would have dedicated some of his lecture time to women’s rights or the 47%—both of which are domestic, vote-swaying issues. Romney could have benefitted by double-checking some of his facts.

It may have been today’s Nixon vs. Kennedy, but it definitely has not defined or decided the election.

Don’t miss the vice presidential debate on October 11. The former frat boy faceoff will most definitely be a breath of fresh air.

Maegan Vazquez, a Texas born sophomore at New York University, brings her young woman’s lens on all things political to Heartfeldt Blog every Monday. Send news tips to maeganvaz@gmail.com

What Would It Take for Dems to Retake the House?

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said on CNN yesterday morning that Democrats have a “very excellent chance” of taking back the House in November – pointing to Mitt Romney’s selection of running mate Paul Ryan as a “pivotal” moment in the campaign.

The Democrats need to pick up 25 seats to win back the majority.

Politico’s arena asked: “Does it seem likely that the Democrats could retake the House?  With a 10 percent congressional approval rating, are Americans even paying attention to House races?”

Here’s my take:

Pelosi’s dream of reclaiming the House could become Boehner’s nightmare. That’s not likely despite Mitt Romney’s fumbling campaign and various Republican candidates’ implosions on social issues, because voters tend to stick with the devils they know and vote for incumbents in the end. But it is possible that the Democrat’s could retake the House if:

  • women vote in proportion to their anger over assaults on their economic and reproductive rights and health,
  • progressive women go to the polls in proportions that match their 1992 “Year of the Woman” turnout,
  • attempts to suppress minority and women voters do not succeed,
  • Obama’s coattails are strong enough to reel in a few additional House seats for his party.

Those are big if’s. I predict Democrats have a better chance of winning a few additional seats in the Senate than taking over the House.

Thoughts? What are you seeing in the House districts where you live?


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

Can Romney’s speech overcome his image?

Are you watching the Republican National Convention? What do you think of the goings on?

Tell me your thoughts here. The Politico Arena question today talks about how Americans view Romney, saying a new Pew Research Center poll shows that more Americans are interested in the GOP platform than Mitt Romney’s convention speech.

Another Pew survey shows that 71 percent of Americans say that if Mr. Romney were elected president, his policies would be good for the rich.

This information may not bode well for Romney, who needs to overcome the perception that he is out of touch with regular Americans.

Will Romney’s convention speech make a difference for undecided voters? Or are Americans’ perceptions of Romney already largely cemented two months before the election?

Here was my top of mind reply, but how would you answer?

If Americans are more interested in the Republican platform than Romney’s convention speech, that’s good news for Barack Obama. The old adage “Watch what he does more than what he says” is true here. The platform is a harbinger of what Romney will do if he’s in office. And that, frankly, is frightening for women’s rights and self-determination, economic fairness and justice, and the economy as a whole. Think George W. Bush administration policies that practically bankrupted the country on steroids.

Romney torques himself into and back out of almost every position on the political map as he sense the winds of his base supporters blowing. His speech is likely to be carefully crafted as fodder to excite the base while stepping as lightly as he can around issues that are contentious with independents, moderate Republicans, and the few remaining undecided Democrats who are disaffected with Obama and might swing toward Romney.

Sometimes perception is reality though. Romney is perceived as not being in touch with regular Americans because he fundamentally isn’t in touch with the realities of our lives. If he gives an excellent speech, he might get a small temporary bump. But what his policies would do – or not – for average Americans is ultimately much more important.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

Romney’s Ryan Pick: Evil Brilliance, Obama’s Opportunity

So I was wrong when I predicted Mitt Romney would pick Pawlenty or Portman.

Instead, House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis) will be his running mate, Romney announced the pick in Virginia this morning.

The choice of Ryan marks the final descent of Mitt Romney into Tea Party hell. Ensnared by his lust for power at all costs, Mr. Etch-a-Sketch has relinquished whatever shreds were left of his claim to an authentic mind of his own.

On its raw politics, picking Ryan is evil brilliance. On its utter disregard for America’s long term economic future and the American values of equal opportunity and justice, it’s just plain evil.

But Romney’s pick does sharpen the choice for voters. The question now is whether Obama will take the opportunity he has been given to define that choice clearly on his terms and to his advantage.

I liked Michael Tomasky’s take:

So he’ll get some good press, and he’ll generate great enthusiasm among conservative intellectuals. But the introduction of [Ryan] to the American people will inevitably involve some other things, too. It will involve explanations from the media that he is the GOP’s archconservative theoretician. It will involve explaining who Ayn Rand is. It will involve going into detail on his budget, and in particular his plans for Medicare. Learn that now, folks, if you don’t know it already. It will involve endless interpretations exactly like mine, about Romney sending a signal that he is running an ultraconservative campaign. The Ryan controversy will overtake the campaign. Romney will become in some senses the running mate—the ticket’s No. 2.

Romney’s Freudian slip calling Ryan “the next president of the United States” at the press conference seems to second that opinion.

Ryan assures an even larger gender gap in November. And most likely a new age gap. So here’s a new prediction: Young women afraid of losing their access to birth control and seniors fearing loss of Medicare may well form the biggest new voting bloc in history. Let the games begin.

 

 

 


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.