October 20, 2014

Column: Women stepping on political stage

Danedri Thompson

dthompson@gardnernews.com

After Tuesday’s primary elections in a number of states, it’s looking like 2010 could become the year of the woman.
Thank goodness.

I’m typically not one to join in an estrogen fest. I don’t really care if politicians look like me or share certain anatomical similarities. I’d rather they think like me instead.

But let’s face it: Men have held most of the leadership positions in this country for far too long, and well, they’ve made a real mess of it – particularly in the U.S. Congress where men outnumber women 357 to 78 in the U.S. House and 82 to 18 in the U.S. Senate. In U.S. governorships, women hold six of 50 slots.

Currently, Kansas’ only woman serving in Congress is Rep. Lynn Jenkins, who represents Kansas’ second district, which includes neighboring Miami County.

However, if the women who won primaries on Tuesday are able to win in general elections this fall, women’s ranks on the political scene may grow.
It can’t happen fast enough.

As much as I detest U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the woman has a backbone. I only wish she’d use that spine as a force for good rather than evil.

The same – backbones of steel – can be said about many of the women in politics today. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is a lightening rod, and you never have to doubt where she stands on any issue. The same can be said for Rep. Michele Bachmann, a Minnesota Republican, that drives the left crazy.

These are women who speak their mind and leave little space for confusion about their words.

Unfortunately, the same can’t always be said for their male counterparts. Maybe they’re more diplomatic, or maybe women are just more likely to take fire for speaking their minds.

I know that’s happened in Gardner.

When former council member Mary Peters spoke, many in the audience snickered and rolled their eyes in ways they never do to Steve Hale and in ways they never did to former council member Mark Raney – who typically used words that mirrored those of Peters.

And then there are the other women in politics in Gardner’s past – the kind who played the victim card whenever anyone uttered the slightest words of disagreement. Newsflash to women who cry every time someone asks them a tough question: Men may jump to your defense, but you’re setting the rest of us back decades by your actions.

It’s an unfortunate side effect of being a woman with strong opinions. It’s not yet acceptable, but I have hope that after Tuesday’s primaries, we’re getting there.

As is often the case, California led the way. Two California Republican women won their primaries earlier this week.

Ex-Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina beat two Republican candidates and will face Sen. Barbara Boxer in the fall election for the U.S. Senate. Ebay founder Meg Whitman beat state insurance commissioner Steve Poizner for a shot at the governor’s chair in California.

Tea Party women also got a boost.

Tea Party favorite and largely unknown Nevada assemblywoman Sharron Angle surpassed more than a dozen challengers in a Republican primary. She’ll face Sen. Harry Reid in his bid for re-election to the U.S. Senate.

In South Carolina, tea party favorite Nikki Haley shot to the top of candidates in a Republican primary for the governor’s seat. She fell just shy of the 50 percent needed to avoid a run-off and will face Rep. Gresham Barrett in a runoff election two weeks from now.

Even Democratic women got a little love from voters on Tuesday.
Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas scraped through a Democratic primary for her seat in the U.S. Senate.

Tuesday’s primaries have political analysts thinking 2010 could be the year of the woman and not a moment too soon. Women appear to have something that’s been sadly absent on the political scene in recent years – brass… knuckles.

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