The 30 Percent Solution — now with 30% more cross-posting!

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008 · 19 Comments »

I got permission from the divine MadamaB to re-post The 30 Percent Solution over at The New Agenda, and I’m just so giddy about the whole thing I’m going to re-post it here too. I’m gonna get so many pingbacks going my computer will ‘splode!

Below and forthwith is the re-post of the re-post of the post, as it appears on The New Agenda site:

NOTE: This post was originally published last week at Partizane, The Confluence, and MadamaB’s own blog. We’re delighted to re-publish it here, and to welcome MadamaB as a contributor.

The New Agenda is non-partisan and, unlike MadamaB, we do not endorse any candidate. We do, however, fully endorse the “30% solution.” Increasing women’s representation in government is one of our key goals, for reasons that this post makes clear.

You Said It, Sister!

When I read Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s book, “Rumors of Our Progress Have Been Greatly Exaggerated, I felt as if I had been sleep-walking through the past twenty years of my life. (I hope that soon I will have the long-promised interview with the Congresswoman for your reading pleasure, but she is obviously quite busy on her book tour!) Through a devastating, methodical collection of facts and figures, the Congresswoman builds an airtight case for her premise: American women have NOT come a long way, baby.

Sexual harrassment suits are still routinely filed at places that are designated by female-led organizations as woman-friendly. Women still make 77 cents to every male dollar for doing the same job. Although many other countries, including the not-so-forward-thinking Pakistan and India, have had female heads of state, we Americans are still not quite able to bring ourselves to elect a female president, although many qualified women have tried and failed. Our business community has little to no support for women who want to participate in the workforce; no places for breastfeeding, no help for those who need daycare, and maternity leave for most is a thing of the past, having been replaced by “disability pay” – as if having a child were a disability! And as for a woman’s right to control her own body, although 6 years of Republican control over Congress, the Executive Branch and the Supreme Court has not led to the overturn of Roe v. Wade, certain factions within the Republican Party never seem to stop trying to chip away at reproductive choice. Just recently, HHS Secretary Leavitt put forth a proposal erroneously declaring some forms of birth control as abortifacients, thus opening the door to more “conscientious refusals” by anti-choice health professionals to prescribe them. Finally, the ERA has been dead in the water since it failed to pass in the 1970’s, the last time that a demonstrated, concentrated push for womens’ rights occurred.

Maloney’s excellent book offers practical, real-world solutions for many of these problems; among them, lobbying for specific legislation and networking with women in business to get more females into the top slots in Fortune 500 companies. But when all is said and done, the overwhelming thing we all must do is to elect more women to local, state and federal government. Why? Because of the 30% Solution.

I had never heard of this statistic before reading this book (told you I was asleep), but apparently, it is a well-recognized fact that no significant progress is ever made on womens’ issues in any country unless the federal government is made up of at least 30% women. Our federal government is currently made up of 17% women, which explains why we have had such a difficult time moving forward. Womens’ voices are simply too few to be heard, despite their frequent screaming. A case in point: That HHS proposal mentioned above is being hotly and loudly contested by only two women: Hillary Clinton and Patty Murray. 28 of their Senatorial colleagues have signed onto their petition (note that supposedly fervent feminist Joe Biden is NOT on that list, although Barack Obama has signed it), but that is the extent of their advocacy. Why isn’t the Democratic Party screaming and yelling about this terrible blow against womens’ rights, as this blog suggests?

If 30% of the Senate and House were women, you can bet your increasingly-less-valuable paycheck that both parties would be feeling a lot more responsible to that constituency. But as it is now, the Democrats have gotten fat and lazy, assuming that we will hand them our votes no matter what they do, resting on their decades-old laurels and doing little or nothing to stop this horrendous attack on our reproductive freedoms.

As I was reading this book, I noted the number of times the Congresswoman would be stymied by Republican resistance and Democratic indifference when trying to get important legislation into Committee. (The book was written before Democrats took over Congress.) Yet I also noted something interesting: When Ms. Maloney desperately needed bi-partisan support, it was nearly always a Republican woman who would give it to her - and not necessarily a “moderate” like Olympia Snowe or Susan Collins, either. Was it possible that the 30% Solution could actually be party-blind?

This year, and every year, I believe the answer is yes. The Democrats have utterly failed to demonstrate their commitment to womens’ rights by refusing to nominate the woman who was the clear winner of the primaries this year, favoring an illegitimate, unqualified and unelectable man instead. And indeed, they have been completely uninterested, with the exception of certain female legislators and leaders within the Party, in protecting and advancing womens’ rights by passing the ERA.

And to those of you that come here to berate me and other PUMAs, and can’t seem to acknowledge the historic nature of this election to women, you are missing a fundamental dynamic of the primary season. The main reason McCain picked Palin was to satisfy his conservative base, but he was also extremely aware of the pissed-off faction of the Democratic Party that has finally seen the impenetrably sexist nature of the Party we thought was our friend and advocate. And notably, the Republican Party is over the moon about Palin, whereas the supposed “feminists” and “left” bloggers had no problem attacking Hillary for her cleavage, body, wardrobe, allegiance to her husband, and a myriad of other Scary Vagina-based idiocies.

McCain and the Republicans are willing to elect a woman to the Executive Branch for the first time in the history of our country. They are advancing the 30% Solution. Obama and the Democrats are not, and are not. Do you get it now, Obamans?

It is time to make the Democratic Party take women seriously, for the first time since Mondale put Geraldine Ferraro on the Presidential ticket. It is time to acknowledge that, as Hillary said, Womens’ rights are human rights. And it is time to cast your vote for a woman this Election Day. I am casting my vote for two women, McKinney/Clemente, unless McCain comes close enough to win New York, in which case I will vote McCain/Palin at the top. And after this election, I am only casting my vote for women, unless I have no alternative.

It’s a numbers game, and thanks to the Democratic Party’s unconscionable rejection of Hillary Clinton this year, I have just become a single-issue voter. If the Democratic Party wants to earn my support by actually taking concrete action on behalf of women in the future, then let them. If they want to support women in the primaries, let them. If they want to use their increased Congressional power to get the ERA passed, let them. If they want to legislate Roe v. Wade on top of the established law of the land, as Hillary has proposed, let them. And if they want to put Hillary forward as the nominee in 2012, instead of taking every possible action to stop her from winning (including taking her two strongest states out of contention, changing the rules to overweight red-state caucuses to the detriment of large blue and swing states, awarding her delegates to her opponent, and intimidating and threatening her delegates into not voting for her at the Convention), then let them.

Otherwise, they will continue to be a Party divided on racial and sexual lines; a Party that thinks nothing of an African-American candidate who gains the support of 93% of AA’s by race-baiting, but is fauxraged at women who self-identified with Hillary and now Sarah Palin; a Party destroyed from within by the most divisive and destructive candidate in recent memory.

It’s up to you, Democrats. You can re-commit yourselves to social justice and gender equality, or you can continue on your path towards becoming the New Plutocratic Party. But be prepared to reap what you sow. Remember, pissing off your constituents, then blaming them for not voting for you, is never a good electoral strategy. Giving your constituents what they want, however, works every time.

Right, President McCain?


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19 Responses to “The 30 Percent Solution — now with 30% more cross-posting!”

  1. kenoshaMarge says:

    Amen Sister madamab! Right there with ya. I intend to vote for a female candidate every chance I get from here on out.

    I’ve changed a lot in this past year. I’ve gone from being a lifelong Democrat to being a democracy seeking Independent to now having come home to being a Gynocrat.

    The 30% solution is now at the top of my agenda for the rest of my life. Thank you for articulating it so well.

    Thank you and Dr.Violet for insisting that women’s rights and issue do not just belong to the liberals. We must stand together or we will surely continue to fail alone.

  2. Anna Belle says:

    Fantastic. Glad to see this one getting a wider audience. I’m on board with the 30% plan. I can’t wait to get caught from the financial devastation of the power outage so I can buy Maloney’s book.

  3. madamab says:

    Thank you, Dr. Violet Socks! I always come here but am more of a lurker than a commenter. I am absolutely thrilled to be cross-posted!

  4. Violet says:

    Thank you for writing the post, madamab! It’s really struck a nerve in the feminist blogosphere. Everybody’s walking around going, “30 percent solution. That’s the key. 30 percent solution.” One commenter even changed her user name to Thirty Percent Solution.

  5. madamab says:

    Violet – My face just turned bright red. I can’t believe it! I’m pleased and mortified at the same time. :-)

    I am supposed to have an interview with Congresswoman Maloney. I sent her the questions months ago, but she has not gotten the responses back to me yet. I’ll be sure to post everything here as soon as I get it!

  6. Anna Belle says:

    Well, I forgot today was payday, so I guess we are officially caught up enough for me to order a copy, which I did. I also bought one for my Obama-supporting sister-in-law. She’s the only reachable one on that side of the family.

    Also got a copy of Rahm Immanuel’s The Plan, for a cool penny. Ha.

    I paid full price for both copies of Maloney’s book, because I want her to get the money.

  7. quixote says:

    30% would be good. 50% would be more like it. 52.37% (or whatever proportion we are of voters) would be even more like it.

    And then, of course, if you’re using any kind of sense-based measure, 90% or so.

  8. Chay says:

    I really enjoyed the post and see merit to the thought. But, I’m from Missouri and am having a little trouble jumping aboard since my vote went to Claire McCaskill. And, you don’t know how many times I have regretted that decision.

  9. FemB4Dem says:

    Anna Belle — Does Rahm’s “Plan” include knitting patterns?

    MadamaB — great post! I’ve ordered the book.

  10. indie in CA says:

    I’ve been meaning to post about the 30% solution. I’m definitely on board with this.

    BTW – If you possibly can, if you decide to order this book, order it from your locally-owned independent bookstore and NOT from Amazon (amazon is destroying local economies). You could also see if your library has a copy. This seems like an important book to have available in our public libraries. [Speaking as the former owner of an independent bookstore.]

  11. Steven Mather says:

    Dear quixote,

    Create momentum to achieve inertia. Once 30% is reached, more shall have a place to easily gather, due to critical mass.

    non sequitur: By the Fault has a good article about the positive changes occuring in Rwanda due to the influx of women into non-traditional political and social roles. Perhaps it can happen in America without an internicine implosion. The article is under the topic heading “Africa.”

    Yours in 30% and beyond everywhere,


  12. ea says:

    Janet Brown at the Commission on Presidential Debates: (info from comment at Green Party Central)

    Ole Miss Debate site (Contact Us button)

    If the debate is going to be rescheduled or refitted, there is time to make sure that ALL candidates who have qualified on state ballots across the country participate. This includes Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party.

  13. octogalore says:

    I hope we can get to 30% and beyond. I feel pretty pessimistic after reading Pollitt’s recent Nation article (analysis here: When even feminists are writing about women whose ideas (and other things) they don’t like in a clearly gender-biased way, what hope have we? With friends like these, etc. etc. Well, I guess allying with women who do believe in supporting other women is a nice first step. (And, before any bushy-tailed third-wavers jump in and say “are you asking me to vote with my gender,” I’ll add this: Nope. I’m asking you not to be biased because of someone else’s, and, other things being equal, to accord that some merit.)

  14. ea says:

    To hear (figuratively) the voice of the female presidential candidate not invited to the debate tonight, go to

  15. ea says:

    McKinney’s 14-point plan for the economic crisis can be found at

  16. Anna Belle says:

    I got both my copies today! Can’t wait!

  17. Elizabeth K. says:

    Um, didn’t Maloney endorse Obama? That’s what the DNC Watch website showed as of June 6.

  18. betsyfromtexas says:

    Hey, Ladies, I just put my “Hillary supporter for McCain/Palin” sticker on my truck, just above my two Hillary stickers! I hope Sarah kicks that drunk’s ass tomorrow night!

  19. Cd123456789 says:

    “Gynocrat.” I hadn’t heard that one; I like it. I really like your analysis MadamaB. I am leaning and leaning. I sure would like to hear what McKinney has to say in a debate; it doesn’t seem fair that she would be excluded under the circumstances. I have been out of it since the HRC debacle and only recently learned about McKinney as an option. Can someone briefly clue me in – where was she back when the early debates were held; did she endorse Obama, and if so why; is she sorta late to the picnic since the election was hijacked from HRC?