Janice Shaw Crouse

The long march of women seeking election to Congress seems to be waning; instead of pressing onward toward the House, many are establishing their own businesses, often launched from home. The female share of Congressional seats seems to have reached a plateau at about one in six at the federal level and about one in four at state capitals. Currently, 86 women serve in the U.S. Congress –– 16 in the Senate and 70 in the House. Women hold 76 statewide elective executive offices across the country –– about a quarter of the total –– with 45 Democrats, 28 Republicans, three independents.

The future appears uncertain even at those low levels of women’s involvement in the political arena. According to the Cook Political Report, 14 women are among the 75 most vulnerable House members and numerous elections have no female challengers. Democratic pollster Celinda Lake predicts that the 2008 campaign will not favor women because the likely issues –– Iraq, immigration, national security –– are typically more favorable to male candidates.

Thus, while women are increasingly more important in elections –– outnumbering male votes by nearly 9 million in 2004 and predicted to cast 53 percent of the 2008 vote –– women are less likely than men to run for public office. Various experts give explanations for women not running for office: they typically run only when a specific issue propels them; they are less likely to run in a competitive race or to run against a man. Moreover, the left apparently did not realize when they unleashed the politics of personal destruction on Judge Robert Bork that it would in due time so pollute the political waters that decent candidates would become increasingly difficult to recruit. The slash-and-burn politics of the left do not encourage successful women –– or men –– to leave their homes or businesses for an election that is sure to be brutal and destructive. Whatever the specific reality, many potential women candidates and current office holders are seeking influence outside the halls of Congress.

For instance, Congresswoman Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio), is stepping down after almost 15 years of service because she has two aging parents and a daughter starting kindergarten. The feminists, of course, blame the culture for not making it easy for women like Mrs. Pryce. They also blame men’s chokehold on power. They see a society that hinders women from realizing their dreams and men who throw up barriers to keep them from achieving their goals. Typically, women’s groups complain that women are not recruited and society does nothing to convince them that they can do the job.

Janice Shaw Crouse

Janice Shaw Crouse is a former speechwriter for George H. W. Bush and now political commentator for the Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee.
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