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National NOW Times>>August 1995>>Article

The Time to Elect Feminist Candidates is NOW

by Linda Berg

NOW/PAC Auctioneer Vicki Brubaker puts the squeeze on NOW President Patricia Ireland during a bidding war over items contributed by Cagney & Lacey star Sharon Gless. Photo By Beth Corbin

It is not an exaggeration to say that the 1994 elections are having a disastrous impact on the feminist agenda. Now that the dust has cleared from the first 100 days in Congress, leaders of the radical right are trying to roll back the social gains of the last 30 years.

They are poised to dismantle long-fought abortion and reproductive rights, gut affirmative action programs, target lesbian and gay rights and shred the already tattered safety net for this country's poor.

What happened to precipitate such a massive assault on our rights? It started with the election of Bill Clinton as president and a relatively liberal majority in both houses of Congress in 1992. We won passage of new laws protecting abortion clinics, strengthening efforts to stop violence against women and providing million more in funding for research on women's health. Complacency set in.

While this complacency spread, right wing leaders -- particularly those in religious right -- were busy organizing in every precinct in this country. Nationwide, their faithful were one in five of the voters in 1994 Republican primaries; one in three in the South.

In contrast, the left's complacency took numerical form in the results of the 1994 general elections. Contrary to much media speculation, angry white men didn't flock to the polls. Rather, women and people of color stayed home.

While many on Capitol Hill seem inclined to accept the inevitable results of the shift in power, NOW and other allies are often lone voices protesting the right wing's agenda.

Feminists are strategizing now to take back the grassroots.

We must mobilize the majority of people who believe in social, economic and political equality for women. Most people in this country believe that abortion rights for women are central to equality. Polls also show most of us believe that families on welfare deserve opportunities for education and job training, healthcare and childcare -- not to be thrown out on the streets.

NOW is well-positioned to lead the charge going into the 1996 elections. We are the largest feminist organization in the nation, with chapters in every state. NOW members are everywhere, and our members are active politically.

NOW/PAC is the only women's rights PAC that looks beyond the economic and reproductive rights issues to whether a candidate also believes in civil rights for everyone regardless of sex, race, or sexual orientation.

In deciding which candidates to endorse, NOW/PAC sets strict criteria. Candidates must support constitutional equality for women and lesbian and gay civil rights. Candidates must believe in investing resources in social programs and must not support punitive welfare restrictions.

There has never been a time when contributions to the NOW/PAC have been more critical to fight back against the punitive right wing agenda. They must be stopped before they gain a stranglehold on this nation. Contributions to NOW/PAC help fund our coordinated feminist campaign strategy, where trained activists are sent out to communities to help organize door-to-door and telephone canvassing campaigns in areas with two or more feminist candidates running for Congress. By election day the campaigns shift into massive get-out-the-vote efforts on behalf of the feminist candidates.

NOW/PAC has committed itself to doing everything possible to stop the right wing in its tracks. We need your help to expand our projects throughout this country.

(Clip and return to NOW/PAC, 1000 16th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20036-5705)

YES! I want to help NOW/PAC stop the right wing in its tracks.





(Contributions to the NOW/PAC are not tax deductible. You must be a NOW member to contribute -- to verify, please include the mailing label from a NOW newspaper.)

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