Representative Patsy Mink, D-Hawaii, is filmed in front of the U.S. Capitol for NOW's Feminist Image Campaign. Mink is just one of many feminist candidates whom NOW/PAC endorses in its Victory 2000 Campaign. Photo by Hillary S. Condon.
Ever since the devastating 1994 elections when anti-abortion rights candidates took power in Congress, Roe v. Wade has hung by a thread. If all branches of government fall into the hands of those who oppose reproductive rights for women, the appointment of the very next Supreme Court justice will swing the pendulum further away from Roe. Hundreds of additional right-wing federal judges will be appointed and quickly confirmed — with a terrible impact on cases of sexual harassment, discrimination, hate crimes, clinic violence and other issues.
Although the leading Republican candidates, George W. Bush and Elizabeth Dole, are hiding behind a mask of moderation, they are locked in an all-out battle for the votes of the far-right zealots who control their party. Both of them support making abortion illegal. Both oppose affirmative action, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and basic civil rights for lesbians and gay men.
Women must not be tempted by the tantalizing possibility of finally electing a woman, Elizabeth Dole, president. We can applaud the shattering of the glass ceiling for women presidential candidates; however, we must remember that Dole retracted her earlier support for the Equal Rights Amendment, marched in lockstep with former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush and in July, vowed that if elected president she would support a federal abortion procedures ban, the so-called "partial birth abortion ban." What could be more destructive to women's rights than having the first woman president support a constitutional ban on abortion, and oppose family and medical leave and constitutional equality for women?
Bush has raised over $50 million, and donations are pouring in daily. Steve Forbes has pledged to spend (out of his own pocket) whatever it takes to challenge Bush. The Christian Coalition has launched a drive to raise $21,000,000 to elect ultra-conservative candidates. And the PAC formed by the Republican Impeachment House Managers has raised millions not only to defend their seats, but to elect more right-wing fanatics to keep them company.
NOW/PAC is uniquely positioned to take on the religious political extremists. We are the only political action committee that insists its endorsed candidates support the whole range of feminist issues. NOW/PAC screens candidates thoroughly on every critical feminist issue. On abortion rights, we won't endorse any candidate who would limit the choice of appropriate medical procedures or block the rights of poor women (Medicaid funding) or young women (parental notice and consent). NOW/PAC makes sure our candidates support women's economic equality, especially pay equity, Social Security and fair treatment of poor women. We only endorse candidates who support affirmative action and civil rights and oppose discrimination based on sexual orientation.
In other words, NOW/PAC's positions are the polar opposite of the Christian Coalition and other right-wing groups on every issue. And in election after election throughout the country, feminists must make sure that we have candidates who will go head-to-head with theirs. We have the ability and influence to make a difference in the upcoming elections, but not if our opponents can outspend us 10 to 1.
The fact is money moves politics. Women's rights supporters have the ground troops, the candidates and the winning message of equality. Imagine our success, if we also have the funds to ensure our victories. We have wonderful feminist incumbents who must be returned to office and an array of exciting feminists challenging our opponents in Congress and vying for open seats. And although we have activists in every district, if our candidates cannot afford to pay for phone banks or fliers, they will not be competing on a level playing field. We cannot allow this to happen.
NOW/PAC is asking all NOW members to consider a monthly commitment to their PAC through the 2000 elections. With a steady stream of funds, we can immediately jump in whenever and wherever candidates need help. The NOW/PAC can send trained political organizers to help in tight races and provide them with the resources they need to be effective. For those members who cannot afford a monthly pledge, a one-time gift will help launch this campaign.
With the help of NOW members, we can and will go on the offensive. We will not have to play defense after the inevitable attacks. Eventually our ideas will prevail—all polls show that the people of this country support women's equality. But we want to win NOW. With your help and commitment, your financial sacrifice and moral support, victory will be ours.