Tonight I had THE most disconcerting conversation I have had in years. It's no secret, all things being equal and a few things forgiven, I will support a female candidate over a male candidate in ANY race, ANYwhere, ANYtime.
I have been clear about this position. Women number slightly over 50 percent of the population but in this country occupy only about 17 percent of the elected offices. It has been approximately the same percentage for the last 30 years! How can women help decide what's on the menu, if we aren't even at the table? I understand why women are reluctant to run and I even sympathize. Children. Career. Community. Church. Women get involved in so very many things that make an enormous difference in the lives of their family and community every day. Why on Earth would a perfectly sane woman expose herself to scrutiny and hyper-inspection that would be required of her and her family to run for public office? Why would she take a cut in pay to work MORE hours and ask her family to do with less? Why would she suffer the indignities of the intrusion on her personal life that comes with public office? Why indeed?
That said, I will do whatever I can to convince and support good women to step up and accept all of that insanity in order to be at the table and in a position to support the issues of women and families. I'm even preparing to support a Republican woman (the first in my life), Regina Quick, to run against that idiot Doug McKillop (who authored HR954 and has put my ObGyn in danger of losing his practice and perhaps becoming a criminal for helping his own patients) because Regina will support and defend a woman's right to choice in this State. She is prepared to be moderate and sane in her approach to choice. She understands that this is not a 'liberal platform' issue, rather she knows it's about the preservation of a woman's right to make decisions over own body. We need more women to offer moderation in the Georgia General Assembly.
And then I have this heartbreaking conversation tonight with a smart, African-American man who is currently in the GA Legislature, whom I respect a great deal and is running a hard race against a smart, capable African-American women also currently serving in the GA General Assembly. Both arguably good legislators who know and support women's issues and vote progressive. Both would serve their newly drawn district well.
When he called tonight to ask for my support I was very clear with him, 'all things being equal, I will support the woman in any race, even when it’s not my district.' and as much as I know he didn't need to hear the details, I educated him just the same about the 17 percent, about the loss of my right to choose, about the War on Woman, about our need to be at the table with the menu. He professed that he was equally capable of supporting women's issues. He questioned why I would 'blindly' support a woman over a qualified man JUST because she was a woman. How it was unfair and how he felt discriminated against. He told me 'I support women's rights' and repeatedly said 'I have a wife and a daughter so I understand women's issues ' and even mentioned how he's 'a member of a women's group.' Really, he all but said 'some of my best friends are women.' Do you hear what I just heard?
He could not hear himself. I could not make him hear me. But I will keep trying to help him hear because he IS a good man. This is not a 'men vs women' thing. This is about women standing up for ourselves. This is about making sure there is diversity in the conversation and at the GA Assembly. This is about putting women at the table with menu in hand.
I wish I could I make him understand that I love men, some of my best friends are men, but women can no longer send a male representative to the table for us - we must demand the right to be at the table and speak for ourselves. There will be some fantastic women on the ballot this year so I ask my sisters and my brothers (including the one I implored tonight) to join this ATLGal and vote for more women to be at the table.