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National NOW Times >> Fall 2003 >> Article

Drive For Equality: Failure is Impossible

by Kim Gandy, NOW President

The most dangerous weapon of mass destruction currently aimed at women is our acting President, George W. Bush. The Bush administration, working with a Congress controlled by the right wing and a Supreme Court eager to return to the 19th century, is running roughshod over the rights of women, people of color, lesbians and gay men, the poor, the elderly, people with disabilities—basically anyone who isn't rich and well-connected within the Republican party.

NOW's number one priority at this moment must be the defeat of Bush in 2004 and the rescue of Congress and the courts from conservative reign. If we are to protect and advance women's rights, we must change the faces and objectives of those in power. The Drive for Equality is a five-year campaign designed to do just that.

NOW's Drive For Equality will use our grassroots base to mobilize a political force of women voters that will win the 2004 presidential election and keep working until we have wrested control of Congress and the courts from extremists. By enlarging and strengthening our nationwide network of committed activists, we can continue to work on issues and win elections for years to come. The Drive for Equality will identify, register and energize women voters to oust George W. Bush and seek progressive change.

To succeed, NOW will dramatically increase the number and skill level of grassroots activists in targeted states, build a stronger infrastructure for communication and action and organize women community by community, campus by campus, in day care centers, battered women's shelters, welfare offices, corporate boardrooms and in every arena where women are being overworked and underpaid.

NOW will need the active support of all our members and supporters to make the Drive for Equality possible. By working together as partners, we can empower and lead communities across the country to successfully change the political face of America and keep us moving ever forward on the road to women's equality.

NOW is looking for major commitments from our members—commitments that might seem daunting at first, like taking a month off from work to volunteer for the campaign full-time. But we have to run the Drive for Equality like women's lives depend on it—because they do. Are things really that serious? You betcha. Since entering office in January 2001, Bush has joined his cohorts in Congress in attacking reproductive rights, efforts to end violence against women, equity in education and athletics, welfare, worker's rights, various protections against discrimination, and an endless list of civil rights and liberties.

Bush is jeopardizing our children's futures with huge deficits, while shredding the social safety net to line the pocket of multi-millionaires. He is placing women and men's lives at risk both here and abroad with his reckless foreign policy.

Our opponents love to label women and people of color—all of us who, in fact, make up the majority in the United States—as special interest groups. They say we want special rights and treatment.

Us? Special interests? Together, we are the majority! We know who the real special interests are. Let's start with Bechtel and Halliburton—lining up exclusive government contracts with inside deals that promote their corporate interests. Bush really does believe in Affirmative Action, but only when it helps him and his friends. Martha Stewart might be going to jail for one phone call leading to insider trading, but she is not in the same league as Bush, Cheney and their high-rolling cronies.

Another special interest is big media. The last time I checked, the people still owned the airwaves, but not if Bush has his way. If the Federal Communications Commission stays on its current course, pretty soon every major media outlet will be owned by Rupert Murdoch and three of his friends and we'll all be watching some version of Fox's distorted news. If only two or three companies end up in charge of bringing crucial information to the public, we might never know the misdeeds of future presidents.

The reality is that this administration is afraid of women—they've seen the gender gap numbers, they know that once women learn the truth about Bush's real agenda, their support for him crumbles. Because of the efforts of NOW and our allies to expose the truth about George, women's right supporters are catching on and speaking out And now, with the 2004 election in sight, the Bush administration is attempting to pacify women and other progressive voters.

It's true—Bush and his cronies are afraid of the power of women's votes. It's no accident that, after setting up a panel designed to destroy one of NOW's early achievements, Title IX, which ensures equal educational opportunity for women and girls, President Bush's appointee overruled the commission (stacked with opponents of Title IX) and decided to keep the law just the way it is!

Other fresh victories, such as the Supreme Court decisions on Affirmative Action and sodomy laws, should not be considered a trend, but instead a temporary buffer for the right-wing leading into the elections. They're just throwing us a bone. If Bush is guaranteed another four years in office, with no more campaigns to worry about, you can bet he'll show his true colors in a way that will make the first four years look tame.

And so, the Drive for Equality simply must succeed. NOW is reaching out to our natural allies in towns and communities all across the nation. The Drive for Equality will capitalize on the momentum that is building against the Bush administration's policies. We must mobilize until we have equal pay. We must mobilize until our reproductive rights are guaranteed. We must mobilize until we have equal representation in Congress. We must mobilize until we are free from violence, racism and homophobia. We must mobilize until women are in the Constitution. We must mobilize until we have full equality—nothing more and nothing less.

Read more about the Drive for Equality online.

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