Editor’s Note: In late June, the New Leaders Council named this year’s “40 under 40” — a group exemplifying “the spirit of political entrepreneurship.” We thought you might like to learn a bit about the winners, in their own words. Today we’re so happy to bring you a piece from Stephanie Schriock, President of Emily’s List, a national political action committee working to elect pro-choice female Democrats into office.
Is this “The year of the Republican woman”?
We’re all reading the same headlines: “The Year of the Republican Woman!” Carly Fiorina, Michele Bachmann, Susana Martinez, and others running with Sarah Palin’s support are making news. Here at EMILY’s List, we’re fielding plenty of press calls asking the same question: Do these Republican candidates really reflect a “Year of the Woman”?
My response? Not even close.
I welcome these GOP women to the debate, as I’d welcome any woman who knows gender should never be a barrier to leadership. But I can’t sit back and listen to pundits talk about these campaigns — which seek to limit women’s rights and put big business ahead of American workers — like they’re something they’re not.
As I see it, every year is the year of the woman, and as our own Senator Barbara Mikulski said once, “Calling 1992 the Year of the Woman makes it sound like the Year of the Caribou or the Year of the Asparagus. We’re not a fad, a fancy, or a year.”
But even worse than continuing the women-as-spectacle theme is comparing these Republican women to those which EMILY’s List members have worked to elect for so many years — women who have opened doors to expand freedom and provide equal opportunity for all Americans.
These GOP candidates? They sure seem determined to walk through those doors, then shut them right behind them.
For me — a western girl, from Big Sky country — there’s nothing more central to my identity as an American than freedom and independence. And there’s nothing that fires me up more than the GOP saying they support women — when they don’t even support our most fundamental rights.
This election is about choosing the direction our nation will take. Will we continue fighting for reform and protecting the middle class? Or will we go back to putting special interests and big business ahead of individuals?
I know which way I’m going.
I’ll be working for the women who are getting real results — women like Congresswoman Mary Jo Kilroy of Ohio, one of four Democratic women serving on the joint financial services conference committee to make sure that the financial reform bill holds corporations accountable. And Alex Sink for governor of Florida, who’s been grilling BP executives and fighting for the suffering families of the Gulf Coast. And Senator Barbara Boxer, who has been fighting for women’s rights and standing up for women in the Senate since 1993.
But in a tough election year like this one, it’s going to take all of us, working together, to make sure the women who are fighting for us hold on to their seats — and increase their ranks in Congress.
That’s why we’ve launched a new program of EMILY’s List designed to get a new generation involved: EMpower, an opportunity to be a part of our community; a place to network, to learn about candidates throughout the country, to collaborate, and have a powerful individual and collective impact in cities, states, and in DC.
I’m truly thrilled to be among the New Leaders Council’s 40 Under 40 this year — and not just because it’s an honor to keep company with the other outstanding folks on that list. Even more than that, I think it sends a message to young women that EMILY’s List is serious about bringing them into the fold. We want — and need — their ideas and their passion.
When our women in Congress are fighting the good fight for American women and families, will newspaper headlines be filled with their accomplishments? Maybe not. But our country will be better off for it — and that’s worth a slow news day or two.
More 40 Under 40 Winners:
photo credit: Judy Rolfe
By Stephanie Schriock