Conventions Highlight Women’s Important Role in 2012 Election — and Beyond

September 05, 2012

AAUW Director of Public Policy and Government Relations Lisa Maatz will report from the Democratic National Convention this week and reported from the Republican National Convention last week. Follow her updates at AAUW Dialog, on Facebook, and @LisaMaatz on Twitter.

“If Mitt Romney and Republicans played up their feminine side last week in Tampa, Democrats on Tuesday were utterly and unabashedly feminist.” So says the National Journal after the Democrats’ schmoozefest Tuesday night. I won’t lie — I enjoyed it. The Democratic women of the House were wonderful, a rainbow with superstars like pay-equity champion Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, choice champion (and my former boss) Carolyn Maloney of New York, and the always-feisty and on-point Gwen Moore of Wisconsin.

Lilly Ledbetter had the crowd jumping out of their seats, stating that “equal pay for equal work is an American value.” And of course, first lady Michelle Obama gave a tour-de-force defense of and case for her husband’s reelection. All were entertaining. All were feel good. But I would also say that Ann Romney’s speech was also very feel good, and the GOP trotted out lots of women as well.

Yes, yes, I know the substance of both conventions’ first nights was very different. The party platforms, both of which AAUW submitted comments on, are very different. While Tuesday night’s DNC lineup made for a fun evening — it’s never boring ­­­­­­watching lots of smart women speak snarky truth to power — I’ve gotten cranky. I want more from both parties!

The real question is what have you done for us lately? Yes, women will decide this election. But don’t just parade around your female celebrities and think that will satisfy us! The stakes are high; tell us why you deserve our vote! Don’t pander, and for goodness sake, don’t take us for granted. I’m so tired of lip service. While past achievements are nice and all, what’s your party’s plan for the future?

It’s time for the typical dog-and-pony show to stop. If indeed women decide this election — and it’s looking more and more like that will be the case — then we as women need to seize this opportunity to hold candidates accountable. Candidates from both parties need to tell us what their plans are for the economy, jobs, education, health care, responsible budgets, violence against women, national security, and other issues. They need to be clear about their positions on reproductive rights, pay equity, Title IX, child care, and food stamps. And women need to cast their votes accordingly.

Here’s the bottom line. The women of America have a real chance this time to turn the tide in our direction — in everyone’s direction, when it comes to equal rights. Both parties are scampering for our votes, and it’s our job not to give them away lightly. We need to cast them thoughtfully, deliberately, and every single woman of voting age in the nation needs to be registered and at the polls on November 6 or forever hold her peace.

But this journey doesn’t end with the election. Once women have chosen our president, our Senate, our House, and our state legislatures nationwide, the real work begins. AAUW plans to hold our legislators’ feet to the fire, based not only on their election-year promises but also on the fact that they owe their jobs to us. January is the time to start delivering. It’s like my wonderful mama always says: I brought you into this world, and I can take you out!

The AAUW Action Fund’s It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard voter education and turnout campaign represents an unprecedented investment in making women’s voices heard in the 2012 election. Follow us on Twitter and on Tumblr for the latest updates, and check out our biweekly Campaign Update for news, resources, and ideas.

By:   |   September 05, 2012

1 Comment

  1. advocatepat says:

    I totally agree that women as voters should not be patronized or taken for granted, easily swayed by likeability factors. Yes, discuss the issues with us, listen to our pressing needs and concerns. But the responsibility also lies with us — as well-informed voters who bypass the party soundbites, who get to the meat of the issues, who demand more from our candidates than generic promises of a better economy for all of us. Well said, Lisa!

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