National NOW Times >> Fall 2002 >> Article
NOW Fired Up By Election, Vows to Fight
by Linda Berg, Political Director
There is no good way to spin the outcome of Nov. 5 except to hope that the Democratic Party will re-examine its tactic of encouraging candidates to soften their criticism of Bush and emulate Republican values.
"Now it's up to us to organize, organize, organize to protect our rights," said NOW President Kim Gandy.
Every incumbent Senator who challenged Bush's war-mongering or tax cuts for the rich won their election. However, those Democrats who campaigned as faux Republicans on these character-testing issues Jean Carnahan, Max Cleland, Jeanne Shaheen, and nearly Tim Johnson lost when voters chose real Republicans. Obsessed with poll numbers and the advice of consultants, Democrats ceased to consider the values of their base supporters.
Without an energized base no politician can expect victory. It is difficult to convince a progressive voter that the fate of the Supreme Court is at stake if control of the Senate switches, when Democrat after Democrat capitulated to Republican pressure in a rush to confirm right-wing judges. Such Senatorial behavior only demoralizes the core constituency and depresses turnout.
Except for Frank Lautenberg, who had voted against the Persian Gulf war and unabashedly supports abortion, gun control and environmental rights, every NOW/PAC endorsed Senate candidate lost. And in every case where a woman ran against a Republican man, the woman lost. Shamefully, the only African American Senate candidate, Ron Kirk, was also defeated.
Despite the devastating Senate results, there are a few bright spots in the electoral landscape. Newly elected NOW/PAC endorsed candidates entering the House are: Linda Sanchez (Calif.) , Kendrick Meek (Fla.), Frank Ballance (N.C.), Brad Miller (N.C.), Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), Chris Van Hollen (Md.) and Tim Bishop (N.Y.). Each of them proudly proclaimed feminist values.
We celebrate the diversity of our new members of Congress, which include one Latina, one Latino, and two African American men. However, we are extremely alarmed to see only one new woman in the mix.
Thankfully there will be more women-friendly governors to protect us at the local level, particularly if Congress, as expected, acts to erode federal protections. We are so pleased that Jennifer Granholm of Michigan and Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas will become the first woman governors in their states.
Hawaii also has its first woman governor, although we would have much preferred the candidate who strongly supported our issues. Some of our wonderful gubernatorial wins are Janet Napolitano (Ariz.), Gray Davis (Calif.), Rod Blagojevich (Ill.), John Baldacci (Me.), Bill Richardson (N.M.), Ed Rendell (Pa.), and Jim Doyle (Wis.).
If the Supreme Court overturns Roe, we will be depending on these governors to protect our lives and rights.
For a commentary on the fallout from the elections, turn to the Viewpoint.
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