National NOW Times >> Summer, 2000 >> Article
NOW's Bush-Whacker Campaign Heats
by Linda Berg, Political
According to the Random House Dictionary, to "whack"
is to "strike with a smart, resounding blow." That's exactly what
delegates at the National NOW Conference in Miami directed the
organization to do to George W. Bush's presidential campaign with the
passage of a Bush-Whacking resolution.
Although Bush is
masquerading as a moderate, his record on women's rights is abysmal. Poll
numbers mean that his true background on women's issues cannot be well
known. By launching a public information campaign exposing Bush's stance
on feminist issues, NOW/PAC will strike a smart, resounding blow to his
Bush supports a
constitutional amendment to ban abortions. He supports parental consent
and mandatory delays. He endorses an abortion procedures ban that even
this conservative Supreme Court by a razor thin margin of 5 to 4 found too
deceptive and dangerous to be constitutional. In short, Bush's position on
reproductive rights legislation matches his promise that "I will do
everything in my power to restrict abortion."
action, Bush has stated his opposition and calls affirmative action
"quotas and racial preferences."
He opposes hate crime
legislation, saying "all crime is hate crime."
He opposes lesbians
and gay men marrying or forming legally recognized civil unions. Bush
supported a particularly nasty bill that would make it illegal for
lesbians and gay men to adopt, and also fails to protect parents who came
out as lesbian or gay after adopting-opening the door for the state to
take back their children.
The state Bush is so proud of leading
ranks worst in the nation in health care and in the percentage of children
without health coverage and second from the bottom for children living in
poverty. Is this compassionate conservatism?
With the next
president having the power to appoint Supreme Court Justices who can
either secure or destroy our rights, and with Bush citing Justices Antonin
Scalia and Clarence Thomas as those he most respects, NOW members know
what is at stake in this election. Yet too many people are being taken in
by Bush's warm and fuzzy rhetoric.
That's where the Bush Whackers
come in. NOW chapters and activists have pledged to work to educate their
communities on the risks of a Bush presidency to women. Chapters will form
Bush Whacker teams to shadow Bush at campaign appearances and remind the
public of his positions on the issues. When his true positions and core
values are exposed, women can only abandon his candidacy.
Just a Presidential Election
While exposing Bush's record, NOW
PACs throughout the country will be working feverishly to elect feminists
to every level of political office. The PAC has learned through years of
experience that while a presidential candidate may not spur enthusiasm
among feminists, NOW activists and others get very energized at the
prospect of electing feminists in their communities to public office.
"While activists work at the state and local levels to get out the
vote for feminist candidates, we know that every voter we produce will be
a vote against a presidential candidate sworn to restrict our rights."
promises NOW President Patricia Ireland. "Anyone who turns out to vote for
a NOW/PAC-endorsed candidate would never think of voting for someone with
the policies of George W. Bush,"
As part of this strategy, NOW/PAC
is targeting battleground states where the feminist vote could turn the
national election around. One example is Michigan, where not only is a
strong feminist Rep. Debbie Stabenow challenging the sitting right-wing
incumbent Sen. Spencer Abraham, but feminist candidates are also running
for the U.S. House in two important districts.
In Michigan in 1994,
NOW/PAC launched a successful "Elect Women for A Change" program and
worked to elect Stabenow to the governorship and Lynn Rivers to the House.
Rivers won her seat in the House in 1994 and has since been a steadfast
leader on feminist issues. While Stabenow didn't win the gubernatorial
race that year, she established herself as a strong candidate and was able
to parlay that run into a successful congressional race in 1996. This year
she is campaigning to make the leap to the Senate, and polls show her
neck-and-neck with the incumbent.
With Stabenow running for the
Senate, NOW PAC will work to elect State Senator Dianne Byrum to her seat.
A strong supporter of reproductive rights, Byrum was also the original
sponsor of Michigan's strong anti-stalking legislation. NOW/PAC's strategy
is to get enough voters to the polls to elect Stabenow, Rivers and Byrum,
with the added bonus that these voters are unlikely to cast their ballots
for a right-wing presidential candidate. Other states where NOW is using
similar tactics include Illinois, Ohio, New York, New Jersey and Florida.
Over the next two months, NOW activists will be out in full force
to educate voters about Bush's record and elect women's rights supporters
to state and local offices. These candidates need activists' help -
contact the National Action Center at 202-628-8669 or e-mail email@example.com
to get plugged into a local campaign and help whack Bush's campaign.