Sometimes elections are about movements. In my view, the 2016 election was certainly that. Lots of issues came together to defeat Hillary Clinton, but the rise of a disgruntled white, working class made up of semi-skilled males was the core of the movement. With Hillary writing lengthy policy proposals on tons of issues and her opponent issuing a four-word message, ‘Make America Great Again,” it was going to be a tough road because most marketing experts will tell you the short version always sells better. Those issues plus a little input from the Russians and there you have it.
Currently, there is another movement afoot that I believe will have an even bigger impact on elections in 2018 and 2020. It is starting to show up in the later part of 2017. It is the #Me Too movement. It is women, in all walks of life, in all income categories, in all levels of education and among all races saying enough is enough.
It is not necessarily a political movement as much as it is a societal movement that has major political implications. Women coming out exposing Harvey Weinstein’s bad, inappropriate and possibly even criminal behavior fueled the movement. It moved throughout the entertainment industry, swept into the business world and now is a full-throated movement in politics as shown by the election defeat of Roy Moore in Alabama.
In recent years, we have seen similar movements that have impacted American culture. The gay rights and LGBT movements are prime examples of how change can occur for the better. In my view, those were not nearly as large or consequential as the #MeToo movement simply because of the numbers – 50.8% of America is female. That, in and of it’s self, will create change.
I have a female friend who is about my age (early 70s) that told me when she was in business working for a large corporation, she was sexually harassed for years until she made senior management and it quickly stopped.
That bit of information plus some additional research tells me that the solution to the harassment issue is to dramatically increase the number of women at the top levels of business and politics.
Currently, there are a little over 19% of Congressional seats held by women. In the House of Representatives, out of 435 members, 85 are female and in the Senate 20 out of 100 are women. I would be willing to bet that if the number of women in Congress tripled, which would put the numbers about equal, sexual harassment issues in Congress would pretty much go away.
In comparing the different numbers when it comes to political parties, the Republicans have a much longer way to go than the Democrats do. Once the vacancies and independents are considered, we find that in 2017 the Democrats in Congress are made up of about 1/3 women while the Republicans have about 9% of their members female. A quote from Ann Richards, the former Democratic governor of Texas seems quite apropos when she said, “If you don’t have a seat at the table you are likely on the menu.”
2018 is going to be a bellwether year for women running and I would bet getting elected, and that is very good for the country and also good for the Democratic Party.
Although sexual harassment is an issue driving women to run for elective office, it is also driven by a president who not only has sexually harassed women by his own admission; his general demeanor, policy positions and constant tweet storm is totally anathema to Democratic women as well. All those issues create a “right time, right place” for women to run for elective office on the Democratic ticket. That’s my prediction and I’m sticking to it!
by Dick Goodson