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.
The women’s political groups are well-funded and well-organized. EMILY’s List brought in over $32 million in 2006, more than any other political action committee in the country. Yet, their record of success is abysmal. In 2004, EMILY's List was involved in 13 competitive races, but won only three. In 2006 they participated in 18 races, winning only two. The problem is that they sing only one note; they are pro-abortion and only support women who endorse their radical agenda.
The bottom line is that while most people want equal opportunity for their daughters, the number of women who support the extreme “women’s rights” agenda is dwindling. The radical feminists who remain are well-connected (think Hillary Clinton) and give generously to the cause (think Teresa Heinz Kerry), but they have lost the mainstream and the young, who are focused on achieving the potential of their own future. The emphasis now is on getting women entrepreneurs to “take their success in business and turn it into political clout.” There is a large pool of female entrepreneurs –– between 1997 and 2006, the number of women-owned firms grew 42 percent compared to the rate of growth of all firms, which was only 23 percent. These women, though, would have to take time away from their businesses if they ran for office. Plus, most of them are happy with the federal and state policies that enabled them to get their business up and running profitably. They are not easy prey for the “victim” rhetoric of the major political women’s groups seeking candidates.
While women’s votes account for about 54 percent of the general electorate, Senator Hillary Clinton’s pollster, Mark Penn, says that women constitute 60 percent of the Democratic primary electorate. Mrs. Clinton and Barak Obama, both Democratic candidates for president, are targeting women by holding house parties to garner the women’s vote in towns and cities. Other candidates, too, are following that tactic with “Women for McCain” and “Women for Mitt” bus tours and organized statewide groups. John Edwards has hired Kate Michelman (former head of NARAL, an abortion rights group) to head women’s issues for his campaign. Michelle Obama has been front page news lately because of her success at speaking and campaigning for her husband. While the fight is on for the female vote, all these efforts are downplayed by the various campaign officials. Instead, they emphasize that their candidate is “bigger than one issue” and is a “tough candidate for commander-in-chief.”
In short, the women who are complaining loudest about women not being involved in politics want only a certain type of woman in office –– those who will support the so-called “women’s rights” agenda –– abortion-on-demand, the mainstreaming of lesbian and homosexual lifestyles, and condom-based sex education in the public schools beginning in kindergarten. Clearly, more and more women are rejecting that agenda in favor of the traditional Judeo-Christian values. The old-guard feminists are still around, but they are losing influence and a whole new generation of conservative young women is coming along to replace them in the halls of power.