There was a very interesting discussion on The Confluence last night about the 30% Solution. Some concerns were being raised about always voting for a woman, no matter what. People were calling such an approach the “strict” 30% Solution. As the coiner of this term, I had never heard this variant, and I’d like to address it in this post.
First of all, the 30% Solution is not just about voting. It is important to vote for women in order to achieve it, but in countries where the critical mass has been reached and surpassed, voting was not the only method of putting more women into national office. Some used quota systems, some revised their election procedures – some enshrined the percentage into their Constitution. In other words, the change occurred both at a grassroots level and at a governmental level. Thus, the entire responsibility for the success of this effort does not rest solely on your vote.
In fact, one of my ideas for reaching critical mass earlier is to use our many, many PUMA voices to reach out to the RNC and the DNC, and demand that in 2010, the next slate of new candidates for national office will include at least 30% women.
As many may be aware, John McCain promised gender equity in his Cabinet and a significant increase in the number of women in power by the end of his first term. This makes me think that the Republican Party may be open to my idea, in order to appeal to what could become the largest voting bloc in America – women and men who support them! And if the Republican Party does it, the Democratic Party might feel inspired to do the same.
I am hoping to start some discussion on this idea by posting it here. What do you think?
Second, I am fascinated by the idea, which some PUMAs have put forward, of “vetting” female candidates with a strict set of guidelines in order to make sure only the “right” ones are elected. I understand the idea, but I don’t believe it is necessary for two reasons: 1) We would never agree on the guidelines; and 2) as Bill Clinton said:
“Voting is a complicated process,” the former president said. “We give our allegiances to candidates and parties and issues for all kinds of reasons. We vote for some people because we like them even though we disagree with them. We vote for some people because we identify with them on race or gender.
“It’s not an entirely rational process, and it is different for everybody.”
In other words, everyone will vote their consciences no matter what, and that’s okay. If you want more women in politics, then you should try to vote for as many women as you can. But remember that no one would expect you to vote for someone you can’t stand, for whatever reason.
For example, this year I ended up voting for McCain and Palin. But if I were a “strict” 30%-er, wouldn’t I have voted McKinney/Clemente? After all, that was the all-female ticket – and many PUMAs did vote just that way. Does that make them more committed to the advancement of women than I? Of course not. They voted their conscience, and I voted mine. There is nothing more American than that.
I do think it’s revealing, though, that some people have no problems holding their noses and voting for a male candidate, but seem to be balking at doing the same for a female candidate.
If I didn’t know better, I would say there was something a little bit sexist about that.
Cross-posted at Partizane