Dreaming of Diocletian

Saturday, November 21st, 2009 · 208 Comments »

Friday, November 27, 2009 — ATTENTION: Wingnut/twit visitors. Read this. Thank you. (P.S. Not sure if you’re a wingnut or a twit? You probably are. Go read the link.)


When the Roman Empire was broken, Diocletian fixed it. He completely revamped the imperial government, discarding centuries of tradition in favor of a new organizational structure designed to meet the challenges of the day. You can do stuff like that when you’re an emperor. It was sort of a one-man Constitutional Convention.

I think of Diocletian whenever I contemplate the political mess in this country. We are broken and busted and in desperate need of change. And no, I don’t mean “change we can believe in,” which is obviously change we can’t believe in. If representative democracy is ever going to work again, I think we need to find a way around the existing two major parties. That’s what we were talking about in this thread, and it’s why I decided to put up this post.

The original impetus for this discussion was the Stupak amendment, which brought with it the realization (or confirmation, for some of us) that the Democrats really, really aren’t the party of women’s rights.

But women aren’t the only constituency that’s been abandoned or exploited by the Democrats. Working folks and genuine progressives are howling in the wilderness, too. Everywhere on the left, people are talking about third parties and revolts and what have you. So, what I’m going to do here is try and put everything on the table and see what we’ve got. And see if we can figure out how to proceed.

Consider these working notes, and let’s use the comment thread to hash this all out.


A. Underserved/restive constituencies:

  1. Women
  2. Social progressives
  3. Working people/economic populists

Obviously, women are nowhere with the Democrats and less than nowhere with Republicans. But the same is true of social progressives, by which I mean people who would like torture to stop and gay marriage to be legal and that kind of thing.

As for the third category, see Economic Populism, non-existence of (here and here); and Healthcare Reform, complete screw-up of (here).

The extent to which these constituencies overlap is something we need to talk through.


B. Potential third parties:

  1. National Women’s Party
  2. Green Party
  3. Inside/Outside Party?
  4. Other (there are tons of third parties)

People have been talking about re-forming the NWP since last year. I’ve lost track of how many people have suggested this, and whenever we get hit with another setback (like Stupak) it comes up again. I actually think one of the NOW state presidents may be hatching something right now, but I need to get some more info on that. We need to think through whether the NWP is the way to go, whether it would have voter appeal, what the platform would be, strategy, etc.

As for the Greens, they have the great advantage of already existing. Third-party politics are hamstrung in this country by electoral laws designed to keep power in the hands of the two major parties, and the Greens (after years and years of work) have at least achieved enough recognition to get on the ballot in several states. Also, the Greens are already in favor of all the same things we’re talking about: Green Party of the United States.

Another possibility, and one I’m proposing for consideration here, is a new third party designed to co-opt the Democratic Party from within. Since the two-party system has an entrenched death grip on our government, attacking it purely from the outside is a Sisyphean task. Why not tackle it from the outside and the inside? Create a third party that has an external independent existence and a matching bloc within the Democratic caucus. In the past, strong blocs have been able to function almost as rogue parties: the Copperheads, the Radical Republicans. The Copperheads (a notorious example, I realize) even had associated societies and booster clubs in the states.

For example, let’s say we created a third party called the Ponies (not really, but just as an example). We would also work on developing a Pony bloc within the Democratic Party, comprised of politicians who espouse the Pony message and vote Pony on every issue. Kind of an insider mole version of the formal Pony party. Meanwhile, the Pony party proper could work on ballot access, electoral fusion, etc.; nominate its own candidates where possible; and endorse Pony Democrats when appropriate. We would also need to develop a media presence, or at least a blogular presence, firmly identified as Pony.

Of course, this inside-outside strategy could be applied to any third party, including the NWP. Edited to add, from my comment in the thread below: If we did this with the Greens, we could have the Green Party on the outside and Green Dogs on the inside. Green Democrats = Green Dogs.


C. Notes on women’s issues/feminism specifically:

  1. If we’re going to consider joining forces across constituencies, the number one caveat is that women’s issues must be prioritized. We must write it in blood or carve it in stone that women’s rights are fundamental. Women have joined with every progressive movement since the French Revolution, only to have their own liberation sacrificed every time for “the greater good.” After two hundred years of this stuff, I think we need to learn the lesson. This is obviously one reason to consider going with a National Women’s Party or something equivalently woman-centered.
  2. Should we work on getting the ERA ratified? MadamaB, I know, believes that this is a key goal and could unite women.
  3. Should we be working towards the 30% solution? Or how about the 50% solution? Or gender parity across the board?
  4. I think we need to say to hell with Roe v. Wade. By which I mean, we need to take the abortion fight to a different front instead of being blackmailed into voting Democrat so that the next SC justice will be pro-choice etc., etc., etc. As long as we’re locked into that paradigm, our hands are tied politically. I think we need to put abortion on a legislative footing; perhaps the ERA could accomplish that. Simultaneously, women need to build an Underground Railroad of abortion providers and patient transportation (working with Planned Parenthood, for example) so we’re not just at the mercy of the goddamn Democrats. Enough with the blackmail!
  5. We need to be prepared to accept the risk of Democrats losing an election. This is just basic politics, folks. The only way to swing the game is if you mean business. All we’re doing now is enabling the country and the Democratic Party to move further and further right. Think about it: the Democratic administration we have now would have been the nightmare Republican bogeyman scenario a couple of decades ago.
  6. We need to remember that feminism isn’t just about abortion. And being pro-choice doesn’t get you an automatic Feminist Credential Card. (Nor, I would add, should an anti-abortion stance necessarily be an automatic mark of the beast, since a person might have useful feminist sympathies in other respects and be willing to support other women’s issues.)
  7. Political feminism must always be compassionate and pro-woman. See the early history of NOW, when protests at bridal shows were misinterpreted by the brides as personal attacks on them rather than on patriarchy. See everything I’ve written about feminists and Sarah Palin.
  8. Feminists must work on building networks and political alliances among women. Patriarchy discourages this kind of thing, needless to say; we’re supposed to be divided and conquered at all times. So while we’re doing feminism in theory and advocacy, we also need to be doing it in practice, in terms of our behavior with each other.


D. Notes on the intersection between feminism and economic populism:

  1. Economic issues are women’s issues, seeing as how we’re half the human race and everything. The question here is one of focus and priority. If the priority becomes economic issues — say, in alliance with other progressives — then women’s rights will be short-shrifted unless some kind of oath is taken in blood to prevent that from happening (see above).
  2. Some feminists might want to explicitly avoid an intersection of these issues, particularly if they are themselves economically conservative. They might want an NWP to focus on choice and gender parity, for example, and leave the socialism out.
  3. Personally, if I were crafting a political message of feminist economic populism, I might borrow from the Corn Mother model (though not explicitly, because that would be cultural appropriation and offensive). But the world of the Corn Mother is, I think, similar emotionally to what many average American women yearn for: a strong community, healthy children, female power and respect for women, a decent home, enough to eat, a regard for the earth and for animals, a fair allocation of resources, a balanced and sustainable way of life.
  4. Advocating for a full range of needed, appealing policies would give people lots of reasons to support us, and more controversial agenda items like choice would be swept along as part of the package. Women and men will vote for the good stuff — stuff they need — even if they’ve got a personal quarrel with one or two issues. All women nowadays want a fair shake and equal pay and freedom from violence, and a Happy Healthy Community type platform would attract everyone. The key, of course, it to never do what the Democrats have done, which is throw out the specifically feminist stuff (such as choice — added to be clear). Idiots.
  5. Single payer, single payer, single payer. Single payer.


E. Notes on strategy:

  1. The institutional barriers to third-party politics are formidable, to say the least. Electoral fusion, for example, is a powerful tool, but it’s against the law in most states. A third party might want to run local campaigns only in states where fusion is permitted, and work on changing the laws in states where it isn’t.
  2. A strategy I think we should consider is what you might call fusion or coalition by appointment. That’s because the one place where there are no legal or institutional barriers to a third party is in the federal executive branch. There is absolutely no barrier to a President appointing Greens or Socialists or Ponies to his or her Cabinet or to any federal agency. This could also be pursued on a state level, with gubernatorial appointments.
  3. I think a third party needs a powerful figure for people to rally around. This isn’t absolutely necessary, but our politics are extremely people-oriented. People voted for Ross Perot, not the Reform Party. And the Greens only became visible in American politics when they ran Ralph Nader on their ticket. Even within the major parties, people rally around magnetic figures: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin.
  4. For the record, my ideal presidential candidate in terms of identity politics would be a Native woman, someone like Winona LaDuke.


F. A few notes on long term considerations:

  1. Peak oil is coming, if it’s not already here, and the world is going to get even uglier than it is now. Shit’s gonna hit the fan.
  2. Forty years ago, who would have believed that working-class white people would vote Republican in droves? Things can change.
  3. Things can even change fast: Barack Obama took over the Democratic party in one year. All it took was a billion dollars.

208 Responses to “Dreaming of Diocletian”

  1. lambert strether says:

    What would the “oath in blood” look like? Would ERA support work? If so, how?

  2. It’s fun to read old blog posts « Donna Darko says:

    [...] READ NOW: Working session for feminists/progressives/Dems to talk political strategy [...]

  3. jumpjet says:

    We had a third party thread on Corrente just yesterday. If you have something specific in mind, we’d love to help, and it would be great to try and get other B- C- and D-list blogs coordinated as well.

  4. Violet says:

    What would the “oath in blood” look like?

    Well, it would have to be menstrual blood, for a start.

    lambert, I’m interested to hear what happened when you went down to D.C. or wherever to talk about third party stuff.

  5. lambert strether says:

    Violet, I’m serious. I mean, you’re right. There’s a bad 200 year history, and so the architecture of this thing should address the issue from the get go.

    * * *

    The DC thing was wonderful, but not really for the reasons you state. I’ll talk to you offline.

    * * *

    Was it FDR who said “relentless experimentation”? I’m for that…

    * * *

    One important thing, noted by commenter Emma at Historiann: All of this needs to bypass the press. We know that can be done, because Hillary did it.. Making, IMNSHO, the question of method very, very mportant. (IOW, we can’t be just making shit up, even if it serves to win a temporary advantage. Assuming the “we” is the press replacement and the party/thing of ours/movement/whatever are one and the same. Perhaps they are different.)

    And with that, I’m outta here for awhile. Sorry to be prolix, but this is exciting.

  6. SHV says:

    Third parties have had time gaining political traction in plurality rule, single winner, election systems. See Duverger’s “Law”


    Perhaps the most effective political action would be a liberal take-over of the Dem Party. The fundie-wing-nuts did it to the Rethug Party.

  7. Violet says:

    Perhaps the most effective political action would be a liberal take-over of the Dem Party. The fundie-wing-nuts did it to the Rethug Party.

    I think the inside-outside party idea could do that. I like the idea of having an outside party component to exert pressure and keep pulling left, and to have an alternative track outside the Dems.

    If we did this with the Greens, we could have the Green Party on the outside and Green Dogs on the inside. Green Democrats = Green Dogs.

  8. Aspen says:

    OK, first of all, on C.1. He11 to the yeah. Whenever I read even the brightest and otherwise sensible liberal dudes, I’m always on guard, waiting for them to strike with the vicious antifeminist rhetoric. So yeah, I am all about the women’s party, women’s issues are prioritized. written in menstrual blood.
    C2. The ERA? I’d like to get a topic started on that by you or Madamab? My questions about the ERA are around what to do about the problem of the mainstreaming of MRAology and how they co-opt all of women’s gains for themselves.
    Example: there was an MRA on an NPR show recently. He was spouting the usual claptrap about DV: women as violent as men, women need to stop provoking men, and so on, and this culminated with his accusation, without any irony, that the VAWA is sexist, and men are being victimized and discriminated by the VAWA. I turned off the show then. But when I’m hearing that on a mainstream station. Something that insane being legitimized by a mainstream, even “liberal” station, it does make me a bit scared about the ERA.As I understand it, the ERA is sex-neutral. So I’m thinking that things like VAWA could be challenged using the ERA. We have seen how so many family laws have been appropriated by MRAs. And I don’t want to be negative or a concern troll – and I totally favor the ERA to the extent that it is intended. But I guess maybe I am being a concerned but sincere (friendly) troll on this one.

  9. lambert strether says:

    #7 I like the idea of using the Green Party apparatus to take over the Dem Party apparatus. Here’s a link from somebody with experience.

  10. lambert strether says:

    C1. Heck. If menstrual blood is literal and what you need, I say let’s do it.

  11. jumpjet says:

    I remember seeing somewhere (I think it was on DailyKos) that the Green Party is actually a somewhat substantial presence in Arkansas, of all places. And Blanche Lincoln’s not doing too well in the polls lately…

    But if we were to try to rally to the Green Party, how would we go about it? Would we all just e-mail them at once saying “HAI GUYS, WE WANT TO HELP!!!”?

  12. Violet says:

    Aspen, I sent MadamaB a note and she’s going to stop by tomorrow I think. I have questions about the ERA too. Actually, I would really, really like to hear from a constitutional/feminist lawyer on what the implications might be, both good and bad.

  13. Unree says:

    Violet, you and I are about the same vintage–do you remember Phyllis Schlafly in the late seventies running around screaming about how the ERA mandates integrated toilets? I remember being disturbed by the response from the pro-ERA camp. It was, No, don’t worry, can’t happen; men and women in the same public restroom “would violate the right to privacy.” The ERA has never been well understood.

    Now that so many men think the takeaway from feminism is they are entitled to high wages AND baby-making and -caring from their wives–plus they don’t have to give their seat to a pregnant woman on the bus–I share Aspen’s worries about cooptation of the ERA. A constitutional/feminist lawyer couldn’t reassure me that gender-based equal rights in the Constitution will do no harm. Misogyny happens to be raging right now, and the MRAs use anything they can find as fuel.

  14. Kookaburra says:

    Wow, I have never heard of electoral fusion before. How on earth can it be illegal? I mean, we have freedom of speech, surely if a prominent green supports a liberal Democrat, and urges greens to vote for him/her, they can’t be thrown in the slammer for that?

    I’m with you that women’s rights MUST be first. No matter what economic or environmental orders are put into effect, they will screw women over if the patriarchy is still going strong.

  15. Sandra S. says:

    I like the inside-outside strategy. I do think that strengthening the position of third parties (through campaign finance reform, electoral fusion, and potentially instant runoff voting) will help. But it can’t be the only thing happening. In Canada we had multiple conservative and liberal parties, and then the bastards on the right merged their parties and now the left just can’t compete. IMHO, Canada will head for a two party system unless they can break up the united conservatives.

  16. ugsome says:

    Unree, thank you for saying “many men think the takeaway from feminism is they are entitled to high wages AND baby-making and -caring from their wives–plus they don’t have to give their seat to a pregnant woman on the bus.” I’ve come to realize that bourgeois men of my generation all think themselves entitled to Betty Drapers with $100,000 paychecks.

  17. A.Citizen says:

    Gee…I thought the ‘inside outside…’ model was what the execrable Kos/Bowers/BTD and other ‘Boiz in the Blogs’ including Jane and Digby were all excited about and didn’t that turn out well…

    …or then again not so much.

    Venomous comments aside I do believe that the idea was and is a good one. Just so sad the ‘talent’ was not up to the stress and strain of being celebrities. Read Robert Wright along with Guy deBord and you’ll get some useful insight into just how the Spectacle arranges that for the pseudo-revolutionary.

    For make no mistake you are advocating revolution and there will be large forces arrayed against you to prevent any change whatsoever.

    Seems clear however that the forces for change are building and rapidly….

    Nothing will clear the mind of an Obama supporter faster than his first bill from the IRS for his/her ‘Health Insurance Profit Preservation Act of 2010′ premium. That and Obama’s idiotic campaign slogan about ‘change’ will, I believe, prove to be that famous ‘step to far…’ by Corporate Slave State America.

    Hoping to purge the Obots from my website and re-enter the non-polite, non-Obot ‘sphere soon.

    Until then I will be visiting and commenting in a hopefully thoughtful way. I hope to put the lie to the statement, ‘In spectacular time the past continues to dominate the present’.

  18. Northwest rain says:

    The Patriarchy has been very successful in their game of divide and conquer/rule/conquest/kill women.

    Somehow we need to figure out how to work together for OUR best interest — and perhaps the health issues unique to women is where we can start.

    I’ve been working at finding common ground with Republican women — the moderate Republicans. Right now I cannot tolerate the female 0bots who are still dogmatically defending his absolute right (in their eyes) to be a sexist pig. Normally this would cause cognitive dissonance — but the world is now upside down.

    During the primary season last year the 0bots would pound away on nearly all the lefty leaning blogs — using the scare tactics we know so well. If we don’t vote Dem — that x y z bad things will happen. Well guess what — with the males in charge — bad things are happening.

    Bros before hos This is what is unifying both parties — to hell with da wemmins — pay offs from the insurance companies are more important.

    So we women (and the men who love us) are going to have to join forces — the female 0bots have got to come to their senses and realize that their messiah could care less about the.

    Right now women are waking up and they are angry — this is when a major grass root effort to find common ground (women’s health issues) SISTERS before Penis worshipers.

    The Patriarchy’s myth making propaganda machine is very strong — and there is the religious black mail (going to heaven, pie in the sky — blessed be the penis).

    I like the idea of focusing on the Corn Mother — nurturing etc. why not? There is a need for building a new mythology.

    Republican women were so ready last year to vote for a woman — and they were and are concerned about women’s health care issues. I know a lot of conservative women (not unlike Sarah Palin) who were so angry that the Democratic Party prevented them from voting for Clinton. And they like Palin — because she certainly understands what it is like being female in this culture.

    I’m using Clinton and Palin as examples because they are two sides of the same coin.

    It is in the interest of the male political animal to keep women isolated from each other — and it is in our interest to form coalitions.

  19. janicen says:

    Something I think should be taken into consideration in a discussion of reforming our political system is the imbalance in representation. Many of the conservative western states are over represented in the Senate. This imbalance puts liberals at a disadvantage that is almost impossible to overcome. As long as states like Utah and Wyoming have the same number of Senators as New York and Massachusetts we’ll never be able to overcome the power of the conservatives. I don’t have a solution to the problem, but I know it creates a huge barrier to progress and it’s part of the reason liberals have to compromise so much. Doing away with the electoral college might be a good start.

  20. taggles says:

    Hi Violet,

    I can agree much of this, yet I cannot bring myself to vote or support who women who are anti choice.

    If the purpose of this is to draw the country and politics leftward, I AM ALL FOR IT!

    As you know, the danger I see around the blogosphere is that people are looking for a quick and easy way to affect the policy changes needed by supporting candidates that do not represent what you have outlined above. Many think numbers of women alone can change the tide. I couldn’t disagree more. Actually, I think it could doom the entire idea. If we are going leftward, great fine, I’m all in, yet if someone erroneously thinks we need to open the agenda to righties (who btw would NOT agree with much of what you wrote), I would not have much support.

    A thirty percent solution, and voting for every woman you can who agrees with the platform fine. Defending all women from sexism fine, but promoting women who are anti ERA and everything else women, is where the entire thing goes haywire and that has been the cause of my angst over the past year.

  21. taggles says:

    Also, just food for thought, all this talk about not letting abortion being held over our head. Isn’t that what Obama is doing?? He is finding common ground all over the place with women’s rights and health in the acting role of the slaughtered lamb. It’s not being held over our heads any longer, it’s being thrown under the bus.

    This is something new, so it is my humble opinion that one do not take the new democrat or DLC or Obama way when dealing with issues of women’s right to choose. There is no common ground to be found on that front. That is a reality.

    I know that I sound like a broken, purist, negative person, but it is my experience that if you are wishy washy with women’s choice issues and are willing to place autonomy over one’s body on the back burner, for a few women who might help with equal pay (not the ERA), you are playing right into the hands of what it you are fighting.

    Take the energy being produced by these slaps in the face and use them to our advantage. Not give into it the way these so called dems and obama are doing, by using their same strategy.

    I’ll try to keep mum for now, but I can’t promise that I will.

  22. riverdaughter says:

    Time for a conference, Violet. Either in person or online. I understand your emphasis on women’s issues, however, I think you can encompass them in a blanket equality principle. Anyone not supporting legislation promoting equality of persons regardless of gender, sexual orientation, age, etc, etc, need not apply. If you are going to start a third party movement, you have to be pretty adamant about it. Not dictatorial and elite. Just laying down the law: We’re for equality. Period. Women, gays, older people, working people, we’re all in this together. Anyone who thinks that the country can get by without the efforts and talents of any group can form their own (much smaller) club. Sorry, we do not compromise on this issue.
    When it comes to abortion then, the answer is simple: we are not for or against it. We simply believe that women are persons endowed by their creators with certain unalienable rights one of which is liberty. To turn over the right to be a parent to some other entity deprives women of that liberty. Deprivation of liberty equals deprivation of personhood. Are women persons or not? If they are, jump aboard. If you don’t believe they are, go hang out over there with the other two parties who don’t give a shit about you and your economic stability.
    People who do not care about your personhood also don’t care if you get sick without health insurance, if you lose your job because some wealthy multinational can get cheap labor in china or whether you get a fair shake at trial. The inequality gene is on the same chromosome as all of those other things. It is the powerful flexxing its muscle against the voiceless. If you want a voice, you have to embrace everyone. There is power in a union.

  23. Ann Bartow says:

    The Green Party has name recognition and power worldwide, but also baggage. Is the bad worth the good, in terms of trying to expand the Green Party rather than starting fresh? I don’t know the answer to that but I do know that Green Party positions on pornography and prostitution are not tolerable to me, see e.g. http://www.greenparty.org.uk/news/3334 and http://www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/Porn/ribetinterview.html

  24. taggles says:

    I agree with riverdaughter. Those who do not believe in equality are not likeley to support what has been outlined here.I think that hits the nail on the head. This is a core ideology that neither party is representing. There is a void. An outrage, it does revolve around equality. There is no need to stand down from it. Let’s stand strong for it.

  25. bygones says:

    taggles and Riverdaughter are absolutley correct. We are losing ground in an acceptance that reproductive rights can be shunted aside to appease a group who do not uphold that right. Once conceded for some form of “unity”, it will never be brought back. We can see that now emanating from the floors of both the House and Senate where women are willing to give in for the sake of political expediency.

    A third party must make this requirement an absolute. For those who still cling to the idea of finding “common ground” when there is none should just remain within the affiliation of either mainstream party that supports that view.

    A woman has no rights at all if she is willing to concede this issue as her choices depend largely on the ability to have authority over her own body without interference.

  26. janicen says:

    I agree as well. The mainstay of the party must be equal rights for all. That simplifies it and says it all.

  27. Artemis March says:

    Thanks for gathering the rumblings and rants and reflections into a frame for having this all-important discussion, Violet. A few thoughts on principles:

    !) Feminism/women has to be the engine, the core, the lead, the heart of any transformative movement; otherwise, our turn never comes and it is always bros before hos. The other good stuff then follows. It doesnt work the other way around.

    2) The First Wave of feminism, especially its thought leaders Stanton and Gage, appreciated women’s full social, spiritual, economic, and political authority among the Haudenosaunee, the People of the Longhouse, whom we know as Iroquois, and saw them as a model for gender-balanced social world that respects All Our Relations and operates on truly democratic principles. A feminist-Native American partnership or union (I’m looking for a better word here; alliance or confederation feels too loose, and I want something that is more about heart and soul, more integrated than just politics or strategy) feels morally, historically, and strategically right, and could/should underlie the creation of a new cultural narrative.

    3) A successful movement must work on many fronts and from many angles, work inside and outside but always together. That’s what Hillary was alluding to in her MLK-LBJ comment. Over the past 161 years, timid feminists have disavowed radical feminists, outsiders have trashed insiders as sell-outs, etc. We have to learn how to complement each other strategically rather than fragment and self-destruct.

    4) Riverdaughter, I like your argument about women’s liberty. This framing of abortion as “choice” is dreadful and cedes the moral high ground to those who cleverly named their anti-woman position as favoring life. We must reframe issues to regain the moral high ground and create powerful narratives.

  28. MojaveWolf says:

    @taggles & bygones– agreed completely with everything you said.

    & applause for riverdaughter here:

    anyone not supporting legislation promoting equality of persons regardless of gender, sexual orientation, age, etc, etc, need not apply. If you are going to start a third party movement, you have to be pretty adamant about it. Not dictatorial and elite. Just laying down the law: We’re for equality. Period. Women, gays, older people, working people, we’re all in this together. Anyone who thinks that the country can get by without the efforts and talents of any group can form their own (much smaller) club. Sorry, we do not compromise on this issue.

    When I was reading Violet’s post and composing my own comments in my head as to strategy, incorporating this attitude was part of it. A huge part of coming out of nowhere to succeed will be charisma and attitude and convincing people there’s a huge problem (or, as the case happens to be, a multitude of huge problems) that the current system isn’t fixing. And this is the sort of attitude and stance needed to grab people’s attention and support. Also, it’s about time liberals & progressives started standing there ground on things simply because they are *right*. Abortion used to be favored by a 2/3 majority; supposedly anti-choice viewpoints now hold a slight lead– the reason for this (even granted the polling questions left room for interpretation, it’s a huge difference) is because the forced pregnancy side is adamant, and the personal autonomy, pro-choice side has been equivocating and trying not to alienate people. The result is we help our opponents win converts.

    Some other early comments I wanted to get to, but in a rush and want to post my initial thoughts now before I forget them.

  29. madamab says:

    I agree with taggles, Riverdaughter and bygones.

    The National Women’s Party should be about women’s equality. Reproductive rights are an issue of equality. If men do not have to turn their bodies over to the State, then why should women?

    The more I think about it, the more that a National Women’s Party seems the way to go – with an inside-outside strategy the way that Violet outlined.

    A few thoughts on method:

    1) Creating a new Party is tough. Who will be the leaders? Who will collect the money? What about the structure and the support of both local and national candidates? I think we should gather a conference of as many women’s organizations as we can – a conference call or a videoconference through Skype – and convince them to form this Party. And, get organizations that are dedicated to electing women – like The White House Project – involved as well.

    2) Framing. The National Women’s Party is the frame that works. That way, we know right away that women are first. Hillary talks about this all the time: if you disenfranchise and disempower women, then you have chaos, war and social injustice throughout the society.

    The most extraordinary day of the entire trip was a testament to this very idea, what Clinton calls “smart power,” and it is something she is very passionate about: that the micro-economies of the poor are deeply important, and when the so-called soft issues—violence against women, food safety and agriculture, sustainable development—are not tended to, the result is chaos, instability, conflict, and war. The Victoria Mxenge housing development, a project outside Cape Town started by a few homeless women who were living on the side of the road with their children, has grown through microloans into a sprawling 50,000-home development. Clinton had visited as First Lady in 1997 and then brought President Clinton back a year later. When her motorcade arrived there on a glorious Saturday afternoon, she was met by a ragtag brass band that had a New Orleans vibe, women ululating at the top of their lungs, choral singers, and dancers, and it all added up to an explosion of joy—a happy chaos. Hundreds of people behind barricades screamed and pushed and reached out to touch Clinton as she ran along the line; some of the women were in tears. One of them yelled, “It is so nice to see you again!” Clinton was ebullient. Caroline Adler, a young State Department staffer, said, “She gets crowds wherever she goes. But this? This is unique. This feels like euphoria.”

    3) The ERA (a good Wikipedia article on it). I do feel that if the NWP is going to go after equality, then that equality must be established at a Constitutional level. I don’t feel that the ERA is some magic wand that will immediately create a beautiful equal Utopia, but I do believe it could be a legal jumping-off point for a whole host of equality-based societal changes. Obviously, we would have to be prepared for tons of legal challenges from the patriarchy in all its evil forms.

    Some of these would include:

    a) An explicit Constitutional basis for the right to reproductive freedom.
    b) Equal pay for equal work.
    c) Legalization of same-sex marriage. (Not allowing it is discrimination on the basis of gender.)
    d) No more “Domestic violence” – violence against women must be treated as a real crime, not something to be hidden within the home. Remember how Michael Vick got jail time for abusing dogs, but Chris Brown got none for almost killing Rihanna?
    e) A recognition at a deep level that women are human beings. Right now, we are not.

    4) Other equality tracks. I have felt for a long time that women need to attack the patriarchy on more than one front. A powerful artistic statement can truly change the national conversation. In these days of cheap viral Youtubes, surely there are some among us (and I am willing to try my hand) who can create songs, videos, plays, whatever, that can push the conversation towards equality.

    Well, ahem, I guess that’s all I’ve got for now. Hope you don’t mind that I’ve gone on a bit.

  30. Aeryl says:

    I think a few people are misinterpreting Violet on abortion.

    I agree that the time has come to let go of Roe. It’s been used a cudgel for too long, and it hasn’t prevented the continued restriction on abortion access in this country.

    That’s why it is important to get it enacted legislatively, which is why it is absolutely imperative that whichever candidates the Pony part supports will have to be a firm believer in reproductive rights, for all the reasons outlined by taggles and RD above.

    But what I think Violet is getting at, is that we must not pre-emptively not seek anti-choicers aupport in the voting booth. Which is very true, because look at this way. We are going to have to attack the Democratic party from the left. We may be able to field a candidate against an entrenched CorpoDem, where the only topic they agree on is abortion rights. A pro-life Catholic woman probably wouldn’t care about the fact that the status quo remains on abortion, if the economic and gender justice issues they cared about would get more attention.

    Many of the Dems we will be going after, already nominally support abortion rights. It won’t matter where we are the same, it will matter where we are different.

  31. yttik says:

    I think what needs to change more then anything is attitudes. Abortion is a non negotiable demand that has existed for thousands of years. A mistake was made when abortion rights were handed over to the Dem party as if politicians can bless us with rights or take them away on a whim. Abortion is and always has been a non-negotiable demand.

    Again with the ERA, it’s about attitudes. Women have spent decades politely requesting equality. What women need is to strongly demand more then equality, we want fairness and justice. Everyone is afraid to demand special rights, as if those who are carrying the groceries and the babies shouldn’t be granted special privileges on the bus, because that wouldn’t be “fair.” Equality is not enough, women are entitled to fairness and respect.

    Speaking of respect, that’s a real problem. We’ve got a porn culture and a rape culture that is mainstream. I think the focus needs to shift from equality to respect. Women don’t want to be equal to men so much as they want to be valued, to be able to fully participate in society because they are respected as human beings.

    As to bodily autonomy, abortion rights is a terrible measure of women’s right to control their own bodies. Especially in countries like the US where one in four women will experience sexual assault at some point in their lifetime. Being able to exist free from the threat of rape is a much better measure of women’s bodily autonomy. Rape, sexual assault, and the porn culture should all be at the forefront of women’s rights advocacy.

    And I strongly believe in the 30% solution. I won’t go into that, but there is some very valid research that has been done and some books that have been written. Yes it does open up a can of worms, because then you have to start looking across the aisle and trusting in the concepts the research has shown. That’s a whole other post.

  32. MojaveWolf says:

    I love that you’re doing this, Violet, and wish I had more time to give it the fully thought-out response I’d like, but that isn’t going to happen for days, so here’s some hurried stream-of-consciousness-first impressions that will hopefully be of use/interest -

    You’re right about underserved constituencies, but you left out a couple (maybe meant to include under “social progressives? I thought they deserved their own heading) I think are both of life-or-death importance to everyone and make great rallying cries —

    Environmentalism — If we keep polluting the biosphere and overconsuming resources at the current rate, we’re gonna kill the planet and we’re all gonna die. Even if you’re purely human oriented and don’t give a shit about other species and platns, probably sooner rather than later, we’re going to be handing our kids a horrible future watching everything die all around them, and eventually no more people to have kids, and those last descendants will look back at us and know we were the ones who knew when there was still a chance to do something and were such selfish, blinkered short-sighted fools we killed the planet we have to live on.

    It’s a very simple, basic and true message that goes far beyond why a lot of people (like me) made this movement a priority in the past and should appeal even to the most self-centered, don’t care about other species at all monsters if you give them an accurate picture of what’s happening *now* nad the time scales for more major disasters; not just the peak oil that you mentioned but things like the dead spots in the ocean that have been doubling every decade for the last 40 years, now top 400 in number and are increasing in size, (see: Seasick: Ocean Change and the Extinction of Life on Earth by Alanna Mitchell, to name a book I’m currently reading). There’s the growing water table problem (already large sections of the ground are collapsing in parts of China due to this, and closer to home in Indio, CA not that far from me we’ve had sinkholes open up in the ground due to diminished water underground). Etc etc etc. (I’m trying to think of good books to recommend on this and drawing a blank on the best titles and most authors, but parts of your post reminded me of a book I read by Bill McKibben on the environment a couple of years ago; will try to search my lj later for the review of it)

    One could also tie this in with economic populism (as Clinton did in last year’s primary to zero media attention, with fairly specific proposals about how to do this): An economy transitioning to solar and other alternate fuels/energy sources will require a lot of new jobs and a lot of investments in new start-ups; unlike giving trillions to wall street, this is would be giving billions to people who aren’t already rich, and giving work to people who are poor, and improving the long term health of the economy instead of puttiing a band-aid on things.

    Civil Liberties — This gets the libertarians on board, and some “traditional conservatives” might think it important enough to vote with you, as well as a lot of liberals who thought Obama would undo what Bush did re: government domestic spying and such. It’s not hard to make the case that we’re already in a relatively benign police state (not really, but compared to a lot of other police states, yeah) and headed towards a global panopticon where everything we do is being watched. It should be even easier to point out to even the most “safety first” and “I have nothing to hide” types that this system doesn’t really promote safety — if the government (or, the way we’re headed, corporations too) can spy on anyone, then it can find something to blackmail nearly anyone–if not something they did, then a family member or friend. This includes politicians and business leaders and all the people who make the decisions that control the entire economy and determine whether we have enough to eat. That should appeal to the most selfish out there. And there’s a lot of people who aren’t just short-sighted selfish zitheads. A lot of people instinctively don’t want to live in a police state and get the creeps from the idea of cameras on every street corner and the government monitoring e-mails and phone calls without warrants. That’s a big chunk of supporters right there.

    I was going to ask for a stronger statement on equality for all and personal autonomy, too, but that’s already been covered by others. Otherwise, I’m totally with you.

  33. lambert strether says:

    Re: “Equal rights for all.” (See this exchange here for a very interesting thread, which Arthur also comments on for why as of this moment I’m coming down on this where I do.)

    It’s almost impossible to argue against the frame of “equal rights for all” which — to my skeptical and counter-suggestible mind — is a sign that in accepting it, we’re trapped inside some sort of ideological/narrative construct that will end up reinforcing what we’re fighting against; “revealed truths” that seem unarguable tend to do that; it’s their function; “If only the Czar knew” is a simple example of this. (I realize this is not an argument against; rather, it’s an argument that there must be arguments against, and to have them. I’m asking for help, here ;-)

    That said, to me politics are about values, interests, and method (leaving method aside, for the moment; techniques like instrumentalism, meme propagation, and tribalism go under that heading).

    If we cannot agree that interests trump values[1] — “human nature,” as Jane Marple often said, “being what it is” — we can surely agree that interests are important; neither the spoils system nor, on the social scale, the New Deal would have worked otherwise.

    That said, I think that the policy outcomes of a strategy of “putting women first” will accord with my interests, as a man (and a male) and so I’d very much like[2] to support it. Consider the following policy areas:

    1. Health care. Putting women first gets me single payer. Case closed. (It’s also a fantastic way to split the Dems; the iron law of institutions is one more reason they censored it.)

    2. Finance. Putting women first — no link for this — surely helps with the usury the credit card companies are charging. And applying the 30% rule to banksters (assuming we want banksters, another discussion) is likely to even out the testosterone-fuelled boom and bust cycles.

    3. Food. Check this out on sustainable agriculture.

    I bet similar arguments could be made for housing, and many other policy areas. And that’s before we follow the money on the empire.

    So, in summary, what I like about the politics of “putting women first” — never mind values for now! — is that the kind of world where that strategy succeeds works in my interests (where it couldn’t be more clear that today’s world doesn’t).

    As to method, (a) “putting women first” is easy to understand, with few edge cases[3] so, as a technical matter, it’s easy to propagate; (b) there are mondo wedge issues to leverage the Dems with, health care being only the most obvious, all of which (I’m guessing) have the policy details very well worked out; (c) it appeals naturally to at least the energized portion of the very large constituency that the Dems (cheerfully enabled by the “creative class”) threw under the bus in 2008. We’d be giving them “somewhere to go.”

    Now, of course, all this could really be lambert as people pleaser [snort] — “Look! There’s no conflict because everybody’s a winner!” — but in fact that argument could have the great merit of being true; the situation is that polarized and that dire. And as a society, it seems that we’ve tried almost everything else.

    NOTE It’s occurred to me that perhaps NWCP might work, too — “C” for children, on the basis that “Women and children first” is an ideal that appeals to all those in dire circumstances. (Thinking of the behavior of guys with top hats on the Titanic when I used the word “ideal”…)


    [1] The counterargument here would be “What’s the matter with Kansas?” To which the rejoinder is, “Is it Kansas, or the Democrats?”, the answer being that the Dems haven’t differentiated themselves from the Republicans on policy (and Obama’s making it worse). Today’s Exhibit A is health care deform (D5), but there will be many other exhibits, going over the last thirty years of Conservative ascendancy.

    [2] “Like” because the platform, to be signed in menstrual blood, has not yet been written.

    [3] “For all” is littered with edge cases.

  34. madamab says:

    Aeryl and yttik are pointing out where my frustration lies with the New Agenda and PUMA feminism.

    The culture of rape and the right to control one’s own reproductive system are the same thing. Women must be seen as human beings, not just objects to be used for their sexuality. My body, my choice extends to when and where I have sex as well as whether or not I choose to become pregnant.

    If anti-choice women don’t want to vote for the National Women’s Party, then so be it. That’s their decision. Enough with the Obama kumbaya crap.

    Sarah Palin recently injected herself into the 2009 elections. In every case, she endorsed the anti-choice candidate. In NY-23, she even endorsed an anti-choice Conservative Party man over a moderate (pro-choice) Republican woman. The position she took is against both the 30% Solution (torpedoing a woman in favor of a man) and the NWP. Thus, support of her political aspirations, whatever they may be, is contrary to everything I believe in.

  35. MojaveWolf says:

    Okay, now that I’ve mentioned a couple of issues, here’s to strategy:
    I love Violet’s inside/outside idea. Especially at the beginning, the way to go. (if we don’t change the voting system, eventually it will come down to taking over the democratic party or taking over from the democratic party, but that’s a ways off). Two different ways to put pressure, two different fronts, if they threaten to blackmail us, we blackmail them right back — “Vote for you or the crazies will win? Fuck you; vote for our issues or we’ll vote for someone else and if need be let the crazies win for a cycle till we get someone better in your place” is, really, the only way we’re going to get a responsive democratic party. If it can be done at all.

    As to building the 3rd party (or parties, if lack of common ground can be found), 3rd parties have already had some luck in local elections. We have independent seantors, and I think there was even a socialist representative somewhere. My idea would be to focus primarily on three specific types of situations, in state, local and federal elections, basically, those where we won’t be costing a decent dem a seat no matter what happens:
    (1) Blue dog dem districts — Put up a sympathetic democrat in. the primary, try to win this way; it’s easiest. Should that fail, have a 3rd party challenger ready to go and people ready to defect. For most of the blue dogs, I’d say it’s too late to let sudden leftward movement impact voting; they get knocked out, one way or the other. Even if it gives the republican a victory, if 5% or up keep voting progressive and away from the dems, this should wake them up, and if we can get in double digits we’ll definitely wake them up. That said, let’s try to really win; it’s been done before and it can be done again.
    (2) Safe Republican districts. We can’t hurt, so the whole democratic argument about “you’re letting James Dobson take over” can go take a flying leap. And in the meantime, we’re getting better ideas out to the public, and serving the dems notice. And because the general perception of the democrat in this district will also be “they can’t win”, it will be a lot easier for a 3rd party to get traction.
    (3) Ultra liberal districts, i.e. Seattle, Portland, the Bay Area, parts of Vermont, etc. Someone speaking passionately what people want to hear could really pull the upset here. We don’t need to pick up that many House seats to be the voting bloc that determines the majority. It’s doable.

    I have to go for a bit, will finish later.

  36. bygones says:

    Women will never gain respect if they do not respect themselves. And they do this by forever bowing to the patriarchal view that being a secondary appendage requires that reproductive rights are pushed aside.

    Unless and until their right to decide for themselves regarding their own destiny is fully developed, then equal pay and all other issues matter not. Being forced to carry to term, based on religious views cultivated by the patriarchy, is not freedom but a familiar yoke attached.

    We need to be speaking out loudly against any woman who would promote that theory and calling it “common ground”. It is just the opposite. I do not wish to be a part of any assembly that is determined to outlaw that right based solely on the pretense of gender. That is backsliding.

    If we desire “equal rights for all” then we must be willing to call out anyone, regardless of gender, who stands in the way of that achievement. Placating, rationalizing, and pretending otherwise makes us weaker.

  37. propertius says:

    “Time for a conference, Violet. Either in person or online. I understand your emphasis on women’s issues, however, I think you can encompass them in a blanket equality principle.”

    Thank you for saying this. What has destroyed the Left in this country is fragmentation. We have bought into a series of false choices and allowed ourselves to be reduced to a collection of competing interests. This pretty much guarantees perpetual minority status. Yes, this blog is focused on women’s issues – but a political party has to be inclusive to succeed (unless, of course, you’re in a Westminster system where coalitions are required to govern and minority parties hold the key to control).

    Yes, the ERA should be non-negotiable – but also:

    - LGBT rights
    - workers’ rights
    - a renewed commitment to full employment
    - reregulation of the financial system
    - environmental protection
    - a forward-looking energy policy
    - real universal healthcare (with a strong commitment to providing healthcare in underserved areas)
    - a commitment to public education
    - an agricultural policy that encourages independent farms over corporate agriculture
    - income security for the elderly and disabled
    - civil liberties
    - and probably several other issues that just haven’t popped into my head because I’m on my first cup of coffee

    Like it or not, no constitutional amendment can pass without the states in “flyover country”. If a pro-ERA party doesn’t also support rural issues, then the ERA will never pass. If LGBT and labor constituencies are split, then neither of them will get anything – or rather they’ll get exactly what they’ve been getting for the last three decades.

  38. lambert strether says:

    #34 Re “rural issues” — when my comment gets out of moderation (probably too many links) you’ll find a very interesting example of how putting women first helps with sustainable agriculture.

  39. Keri says:

    We not only have to look at the language of the ERA we have to make sure the Women’s Equality part of it has teeth. The Japanese constitution of 1946 has an equal rights for women clause in it, but it was only weakly enforced during the US occupation then with the worldwide antifeminist attitudes of the 1950′s it became little more than words on paper until Takako Doi became Japan’s first woman to head a major political party in the 1980′s- the Socialist party, and first woman to become Speaker of the House in the early 90′s. Doi made sure those laws had teeth and put into law anti sexual harassment laws where women could sue the men that sexually harassed them- and they did so in droves- feminism is still strong in Japan as a result of Doi’s actions, even during the 90′s bursting of the their economic bubble and the current worldwide depression. (Doi was what we hoped Pelosi would be) Doi also mentored and pushed hard for more women in political office, and women with feminist viewpoints

  40. madamab says:

    I agree, Keri. The ERA needs to be enforced, and once ratified, will need to be protected from constant legal challenges. This is where the pro-choice forces in this country have seriously fallen down on the job. The wingnuts are always on the attack. We must be ready for them.

    As for the rural comment, we only need three states to ratify the ERA. And no, I’m not willing to compromise on putting women first. I think it’s quite telling how uncomfortable that framing makes people. It shows me that it’s hitting on something very powerful.

  41. lambert strether says:

    And then there are the melting ice caps in the room. I’m not seeing global warming or climate on the lists (except in the limited form of “climate protection”). If one makes the connection between putting women first and sustainability, as I think one can, then climate comes into the debate, but now it doesn’t.

    Incidentally, back to E4, if Winona Laduke headed the ticket, I’d bet she considers the land or the earth a constituency. That’s another way to talk about climate, I guess.

  42. lambert strether says:

    Typo: For “climate protection” read “environmental protection.”

  43. yttik says:

    “Yes, this blog is focused on women’s issues – but a political party has to be inclusive to succeed..”

    Ah, but that presents another dilemma. Women are half the human race, you can’t get more inclusive then that. Whenever a political party becomes a big tent, women always get reduced to nothing but an item on a list, one which always gets bumped in favor of other priorities. Instead women should become the number one priority, because when they are valued, all those other issues people want to see fall right into place, too. It is sexism that leads to homophobia, it is the devaluing of women that leads to a lack of workers rights…and so it goes right on down the list. One of the pieces of the research into the 30% solution explains this. Women are the other half of the equation, they bring balance into the system. Governments that have more women in positions of power, have health care, public education, workers rights, etc.

  44. Aspen says:

    Interesting. I read the wiki article on the ERA, and it makes a big issue of pointing out the labor unions, new dealers, and Eleanor Roosevelt were against the ERA, because it would take away rights from women. Then I clicked on the citation, and the reference is David Frum — the right wing guy, unless there is another guy with that name.
    I wonder what that’s all about.

  45. tinfoil hattie says:

    Women are half the human race, you can’t get more inclusive then that.

    This is where I stand, too. I’m tired of women’s “issues” being put way, waaaaaayyy behind every other “special interest.” We either throw down the gauntlet and demand equality for ALL WOMEN, including our inalienable right to BODILY SOVREIGNTY, or we might as well not bother.

    And there is no “common ground” on abortion. If you don’t agree with abortion, don’t have one. Then stay away from my uterus.

  46. Lori says:

    I’m in favor of a National Women’s Party. Part of making it powerful early though is being willing to not vote on election day.

    If we have a National Women’s Party, inside the Democratic Party, and functioning as a third party where possible, that is willing to let Democrats lose elections rather than vote for someone who is weak on issues of importance to us, we can scare people pretty fucking quickly. I can’t see how voting for a Republican who is even worse on issues which are important to me is effective politicing. I can see how skipping voting for a Dem who is 10% there will have an impact. We don’t have to let them take us for granted. If we organize, stand up and say, “If you don’t support our issues, we won’t show up and vote”, they’ll get it right pretty quickly. If we vote for Republicans, then they’ll simply write us off, as the jokers in the White House are doing now, as closet Republicans. Not voting takes that marketing spin away from them. What they’re left with is the fundamental truth that they cannot turn out women voters – the backbone of the Democratic party. But in order for that to work, we have to be willing to let Democrats lose and deal with the fall out. Dealing with the fall out means acknowledging it beforehand and incorporating the loss into the overall strategy. We’re willing to lose some battles to win the war. If the Republicans take back the majority, then Dems must consider how they will turn women out and that leads them right back to our camp.

    Also, we need to be aware from the very start, of how we define things. “Abortion on demand” was one of the most abominable marketing phrases ever. It may have been satisfying to pro-choicers at the time, but it played directly into the right’s ability to categorize abortion as a whimsical decision and organize the massive fundraising the right has achieved from the anti-choice forces.

    On the subject of choice, we need to begin a discussion about how the choice is whether government choses whether you carry your child to term, or the individual does. We need to talk about China. We need to make the point that a government that can ban abortion, can, just as easily, force abortion. We need to go to conservative women and ask them how they would feel, in a period of over-population – of being forced to terminate a pregnancy with a husband that they love. How would they feel about their sister’s miscarriage being investigated? Would they want to be forced to carry a dead fetus out of fear of prosecution? Lots of those people do not know, because the left does not talk about it publicly, that those third term abortions are almost entirely performed upon dead fetuses and that the mother’s body does not always expel that fetus. we need to ramp up the concerns around what happens to the individual in an anti-choice environment. Pick our talking points, and make sure the spokespeople stick to them. If we want to protect abortion rights, then the discussion must be much, much bigger than it is. We won’t get everyone if we do that but we will peel off a few of ‘em – maybe enough to make a difference. I’m not in favor of leaving the right to abortion care behind (not that Violet is proposing that), but of aggressively expanding the parameters of the discussion.

  47. sharon says:

    Ooohhh good thread. Random thoughts provoked from reading it:
    1. Don’t know HOW this gets accomplished, but the idea of women en masse as a voting block going very rogue and abandoning party loyalty unless THEIR issues are addressed…talk about earthquakes! Remember all the Hillary supporters who suddenly turned Obummer supporters OVER THE FEAR of losing abortion that McCain-Palin somehow represented? We got sidelined again into being one issue voters, backed against the wall, instead of demanding what WE wanted from both parties.

    2. Corn mother thought – YES. A lot of the Republican populism that sprang up in the 90′s came through conservative women, who bought that whole ‘family values’ thing and propelled it forward. Now, who were all these anti-family values people? I don’t know, but family values sure sounded good. Spinning women’s issues into a similar slogan (I don’t know what that is yet) and demanding it be answered to will cause the dialogue to change. Instead of Dems and Repubs telling us party line policy promises, why not force them onto their backs by pushing whatever-the-corn-mother meme boils down to, and forcing them to answer to that?

    You have to change the dialogue. Women have to do that.

    3. Leave abortion at the door, and I mean that. Women on both sides have to rest in the knowledge that this is not the central issue facing women. Women’s workplace rights, women’s health, women’s need to protect their families – THESE are the issues. We let men divide us on abortion – shame on us for falling for that. Conservative and liberal women alike are seeing themselves having more in common with each other than they ever thought before. This is the unexpected benefit of the misogyny of 2008 – Republicans never thought Palin would get the sexism heaped on Hillary. The main heapers were our liberal brethren. Suddenly conservative and liberal women are in the same camp – ousted, and beaten down. USE THAT. Remember the enemy of my enemy is my friend? Our common enemy is misogyny. However, we need to come from a place of ‘this is what we want’ rather than a place of ‘the misogyny is bad’. Getting them to do what we want kills misogyny.

    If we could articulate a platform of what women want, in terms of equal pay, health policies for women and children (not just men), protection for families, rights (instead of rampant discrimination) for women with children, etc. you would draw in conservative women to the fold. Remember, they are used to having their concerns checked at the door in the Republican party.

    You can only do this by leaving abortion at the door.

    But the overall strategy has to be ‘damn it, this is what we want, indifferent of party. DO what we want, or you won’t be elected’. That forces candidates to woo us, instead of us having to look at the field and pick the least evil. Do you see the difference? We lay out the field and force candidates of all parties to navigate it. No longer is it that liberal women want one thing and conservative women want something else. We want the SAME things, and candidates had better answer.

    If women wielded that kind of block-voting power, misogyny would be a thing of the past because you dare not piss off such a powerful constituency.

    More later, I am still thinking….

  48. Aspen says:

    Perhaps, to stay on track with the abortion rights issue within the NWP, one may need to remember that the other two parties are actively involved in destroying abortion rights. All the NWP would have to do, to be better than the Dems and Repubs on this issue, it NOT endeavor to actively destroy abortion rights.

    That, and we could start a fund to send women who need abortions to Canada.
    I’m mostly kidding about that.
    I hope I’m kidding.

  49. propertius says:

    “we only need three states to ratify the ERA. ”

    Okay, let’s assume that you can get the Supreme Court to buy into that argument. Let’s further assume that you can get the Court to declare the recission of ratification by Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, Tennessee, and South Dakota to be invalid. Let’s further assume that the Court deems the specific reference to the 1979 ratification deadlines in 24 of the ratification resolutions to be invalid. Which three states do you expect to put you over the top? Where are they located? They’re damned sure not in the Northeast.

    I don’t think the three state strategy has a leg to stand on, anyway. I don’t believe that the Supreme Court, as currently constituted, will reverse Idaho v. Freeman. The ERA failed to meet its original 1979 ratification deadline and its (possibly unconstitutional) extended deadline of June 30, 1982. I don’t think it’s a case of “needing three” – it’s a case of “needing thirty-eight” (particularly since five states reversed their original pro-ratification votes). We can’t get to thirty-eight on the urban states alone. Hell, we haven’t even been able to get the damned thing through *Congress* since then.

    Oh, and I’m specifically not asking you to compromise on putting women first – the willingness to compromise essential principles is what got us into this mess in the first place (that and the willingness to sell each other out for illusory incremental gains). I’m asking you to recognize a commonality of interest. That’s a very different thing.

  50. yttik says:

    We have to let go of this idea that abortion could suddenly end. Abortion has always been available to wealthy women, and always will be. We turned it into a politcal issue because we wanted to ensure that poor women also had access to safe and available abortions. And poor women too, have always had access to abortions, they just were not always safe. We wanted government to intervene and protect women’s health, especially the health of women with limited resources.

    It’s actually a piece of right wing, pro-life rhetoric that leads people to believe abortion could end or that it began with Roe v Wade. The prolife people have convinced themselves that they somehow have the power to stop abortion, but they do not. Women have been figuring out how to abort for thousands of years. Pro-choice people should reject the “eliminating abortion is a possibility” argument. The only possible outcome to banning abortion is that more people would wind up in jail and more women would be harmed by self abortion or shoddy abortionists. Abortion isn’t going anywhere, it will always be with us. There is no eliminating or banning abortion, there is only policies that promote less misery or more misery.

  51. bygones says:

    Leave abortion at the door? This is exactly what is happening now. It is not the issue of Roe v Wade that tops the list. It is the movement within the individual states that is limiting the right to a medical procedure and it is quietly being carried out as we stand around watching our rights being stripped from us.

    Without reproductive rights heading the agenda, the rest is worth nothing. For a woman to be independent of bodily interference, that right must head the list. We are systematically watching equal rights being pulverized for the sake of political expediency and to turn away from that one issue is to essentially give over our collective power in bargaining to maintain our rightful place.

    This is the exact position being fostered by PUMApac and The New Agenda. Simply walk away from what those of us fought to achieve a sense of power over our lives against back alley substitutes. I could never support that position.

  52. octogalore says:

    I’m in the D(2) camp: “2.Some feminists might want to explicitly avoid an intersection of these issues, particularly if they are themselves economically conservative. They might want an NWP to focus on choice and gender parity, for example, and leave the socialism out.”

    If the NWP becomes a reformatted Democratic party that’s actually pro woman, one is still leaving out a lot of feminists, basically defining a feminist as economically liberal.

    However, the belief that policies that hurt small business hurt new job seekers, who are predominantly women, is not an anti-feminist belief. Moderate, safety-net-oriented, regulated capitalist economic views that stem from there are ones many women do feel are quite compatible with feminism.

    This kind of “only collectivists need apply” format will, I think, alienate many women and bring this back to a movement in the thrall of the BloggerBoyz.

    Additionally, re Madamab’s point that Sarah Palin only endorsed anti-choice candidates for 2009. Technically true, but Palin endorsed those candidates who most closely fit her economic views. Dede Scozzafava was more liberal economically than her Democratic opponent. Palin endorsed the economic conservative, which is consistent with her stated views and should not have been a surprise. I have no doubt that had Hoffman been a libertarian (ie, socially liberal) but with his economic views, she’d have endorsed him. Same with the candidates she endorsed in VA and NJ. She’s always emphasized the idea of reform and economic conservatism. If she were in CA, I’d bet a year’s income she’d endorse Meg Whitman.

  53. cwaltz says:

    I don’t agree with saying the hell with Roe v. Wade. That being said it isn’t going to be the sole issue for me particularly when I know that many “pro choice” folk are merely playing lip service when they call themselves pro choice. President Obama being the very perfect example. When I look at a candidate I want to see someone committed to a health care system that will provide quality care to everyone. I want a candidate that believes in pay parity. I want a candidate that doesn’t use the bottom of the economic rung(many of which are children) as a political football. I want someone who is willing to fight just as hard for working class people as this Congress fought for the banking and health insurance lobby.

    That being said, it will be over my dead body I will stop reminding the anti choice women that not too long ago dying in childbirth was the number one cause of death for women. In countries where contraception and abortion are not available it is STILL the leading cause of death for women. Furthermore, if you are a fiscal conservative and truly believe in cutting social programs then it makes absolutely no sense to force women who may be unprepared to take on the responsibility of a child financially to give birth. Children need food, clothing, shelter, medical care and education…..if the parent can not provide that it then becomes the responsibilty of society to do so. You can’t be a social conservative and a fiscal conservative, the two can not mesh. If you believe that government should be smaller and taxes fewer then it would be absurd to argue that you should force women to bring more children into the world.

  54. cwaltz says:


    Why focus solely on the Democrati party as far as I can see it would be just as easy to turn the GOP around as it is the Democratic Party? I personally think it needs to be a two front war. Paticularly when I am not so certain the two parties we have are not in cahoots and laughing at us all.

  55. cwaltz says:


    Sarah Palin did not govern as an economic conservative. She increased funding for social programs(such as Headstart and low income healtrh care). She was part of a group that supported an economic safety net for pregnant college students. All in all I’m not certain what her point was other than politics in NY 23. Then again she IS a politician.

  56. MojaveWolf says:

    @lambert #38 — I meant to include climate change in environmental protection; I deliberately didn’t list it as such because for too many people that has become a phrase that shuts their brain off, and their are plenty of other environemntal concerns as well.

  57. Lori says:


    I have no doubt that quite a few of the men in both parties are laughing at us. If we can find a way to penetrate and impact the GOP on behalf of women’s rights, great. I think that’s harder but I’m all for it.

    I think we can move Democrats in our direction more quickly than Republicans – in fact, I think we could do that in the next two elections. Women go AWOL for the Blue Dogs, and there will be an immediate impact on liberals. I think it we picked four or five congressional reps and senators to walk away from, and got women in their districts to do so, we could immediately begin to change the dialogue. Lots of hysteria would ensue, but there would be some real fear going in to 2012 – and that’s what we want.

  58. propertius says:

    “On the subject of choice, we need to begin a discussion about how the choice is whether government choses[sic] whether you carry your child to term, or the individual does.”

    This is absolutely inspired (and, coincidentally, is the way to split the Right the way the Left has been split). I’d like to add that the second-worst piece of marketing in political history was allowing the anti-choice to get away with characterizing themselves as “pro life”.

  59. Lori says:

    I see the math like this. If you don’t support women’s issues, then women don’t show up to vote for you. That means that means the candidates are fighting for dominance with a smaller pool of voters. The GOP will win that battle. But, there is still a large block of liberal voters who are unserved. Someone will decide to run who can turn out those voters and we’ll expand our representation with those who want to win with our votes.

    We tell the Democrat in question what we want directly, boldly and without any equivocation. Then, if they don’t support us, we walk away. When, or if, they lose, then the Dems have something solid to build on. They know why women didn’t vote and they will work a lot harder to offer up candidates that can walk the walk that we want.

    Shrink the pool of voters so that Democrats who don’t support women’s issues are compromised. Then expand again when we get the candidates we want.

    But we’ve got to have the courage of our convictions. If we don’t, then none of works. We can’t show up and vote for people who are half-assed in their support of women’s issues.

  60. cwaltz says:

    As far as framing goes proprietus that works pretty well. I think you expan d upon that by then stating if it IS the government that gets to choose that the government has a responsibility to put that money into the social programs that go along with bringing children into the world. We need to hit back on this “moral responsibility” crap that for some reason seems to be allowed to end the moment the child leaves the vagina.

    I think there are fissures between the social conservatives and fiscal conservatives that ought to be explored. If we can pick off some of their block all the better.

  61. cwaltz says:


    I’m not certain this isn’t some merry go round and many of them care beyond their own seat whether the GOP or the Dems are in charge. Things certainly don’t seem to change much regardless of who holds the reins.

    I like the idea of picking a handful of people and deciding to try to make a difference though. Even if we start with one or two seats we have to start somewhere.

  62. cwaltz says:

    I thought this site was interesting and those interested in a 50% solution might as well


  63. Violet says:

    Halfway caught-up through the thread, and I’m confused about abortion. Do people think I’m advocating leaving out abortion rights? Good lord, the impetus for this was the fricking Stupak Amendment! I’ve been saying for a year and a half that if we want to protect our reproductive rights, we need to stop relying on the goddamn Democrats.

    To clarify a couple of points in my post:

    C4: When I say to hell with Roe v. Wade, I literally mean to hell with Roe as the basis for my right to bodily integrity. It’s flimsy, liable to be overturned at any point (stare decisis my ass) and has become nothing more than a blackmail tool at every presidential election. We need our rights enshrined in law on a strong footing, preferably Constitutional. We also need to take abortion access into our own hands so that we’re empowered and working from a position of strength.

    C6. Feminism is about much more than abortion. Please read the post I linked to; the narrowing of feminist focus has a lot to do with how we got here. Also, in terms of anti-abortion folks, what I’m talking about is not turning away voters at the door or refusing help. Recognize that a lot of people, a lot of women, will support a NWP or other platform even if they don’t agree on abortion. Also realize that sometimes allies come in strange shapes. That’s how politics works. Also, we have to remember that even anti-abortion or “pro-life” women are women, which means they share some of the burden of patriarchy with us. We need to exhibit compassion and sisterhood and respect for each other, as much as possible, at all times.

  64. lambert strether says:

    On D3, “corn mother”:

    a strong community, healthy children, female power and respect for women, a decent home, enough to eat, a regard for the earth and for animals, a fair allocation of resources, a balanced and sustainable way of life.

    That sounds pretty damn good to me — although I would add to it “interesting and useful work” — and I imagine “enough” other men (where “enough” means the number to bring 51% to, say 60%; see #33 now out of moderation). 51% + “enough” = power, and that makes the whole “inclusion” question go away.[1] I guess I feel more comfortable with a tighter focus and a more cohesive organization, and therefore “putting women first” appeals to me in a way that “equal rights for all” does not.

    * * *

    I like inside/outside (maybe Greens/Green Dogs), and I think it dovetails neatly with the Underground Railroad concept (Aspen, #48) which takes away Roe as an instrument of blackmail.

    [1] Let me be clear that I am NOT saying “What about the menz,” and I am NOT saying “Oooh, let’s be pragmatic.” Rather, I’m saying that the policy outcomes of putting women first happen also to benefit “enough” men (D5, e.g.), and that it makes sense to make use of this happy, serendipitous accident.

  65. Victoria says:

    Racial equality is also a women’s issue, but it is absent from this discussion. Women of color are overrepresented among the ranks of the poor. What role does race play in this new movement?

  66. Violet says:

    Since we’re sharing, and this is a working session, I’ll lay out a few of my reservations about the Greens. And I hope Greens won’t be offended.

    1. What Ann Bartow said in @23.
    2. Green Party USA has its own history, factions, power struggles, and baggage. I don’t see a way into that for us, exactly.
    3. The Green Party has been a little weak on execution. How shall I say this? There is an air of flakiness about GP-USA that would not play well in the national spotlight. It’s part of being grassroots and open, I suppose, but it distresses me when a Green candidate’s campaign video is a home-made YouTube of her in a costume. (For a counter example of a third party that looks serious and has gravitas, at least on first impression, google the Working Families Party of New York.)
    4. I am unsure of how prominent feminism is in the Green Party’s dynamics. The fact that they have it as part of their 10 Key Values is fantastic, and it’s fantastic that they’ve put women on the presidential ticket. But I also sometimes get the impression that the party is mostly a far-left version of the existing male-dominated progressive world, with the usual concerns: environment, racism, war, etc. I could be totally wrong about this; I’m just putting it out there.

  67. Violet says:

    Victoria, see all the comments referring to human equality as a bedrock principle. I focused on strategy in the post, rather than detailing an agenda, because we’re all working from a leftist/progressive point of view.

  68. Violet says:

    Artemis said:

    A feminist-Native American partnership or union (I’m looking for a better word here; alliance or confederation feels too loose, and I want something that is more about heart and soul, more integrated than just politics or strategy) feels morally, historically, and strategically right, and could/should underlie the creation of a new cultural narrative.

    I would like that too, but we have to be aware of the issues regarding appropriation. Many American Indians would regard that as extremely offensive: borrowing their culture to clothe the colonial imperial government that destroyed their people and robbed their land.

  69. lambert strether says:

    Re underground railroad: See hipparchia here.

  70. Northwest rain says:

    Well many of us have Native American ancestors. It would be up to the current women leaders if they wanted to lend their power symbols to a new political party. I sort of think that is time to recognize and include the indigenous people more prominently in an American political party.

    I’m reading Sarah Palin’s biography — and she reviews her husband’s family history and the tradition of strong women in leadership positions of his particular Alaskan tribe. Female ownership of land and strong women leaders is also the history of the Cherokee — which the patriarchal/misogynist American Government never did understand. There was a lot of sexist (r@cist) garbage about Todd Palin — either he was the one calling the shots or he was a wimp. He is neither. Respect for strong female leaders is part of his ethnic heritage.

    A party that refuses to put the welfare of 51% of the Nation’s population at the very top of their priority list is a failure.

    I am assuming that women’s control over our bodies is NOT up for discussion. I’ve pointed out to many people that had it been up to the radical left and they were the ones to take full control of women’s bodies — based on their reaction to Palin’s CHOICE of giving birth to her 5th child that she would likely have been forced to abort if these boyz were in full power.

    The separation of church and state is an absolute necessity. We are seeing the evils of allowing religious dogma to dictate political actions with the intrusion of male patriarchal dogma into women’s rights.

  71. Aspen says:

    I want to confront Violet’s #D2, about the intersection of economic policy with women’s rights. comment addressed #52 business policy. I’m not sure if anyone here has a feel for how many otherwise feminist women have conservative or right wing economic views, and would be willing to consider the NWP over the Republicans. About business policy, in the US, we are so used to the concept of “pro-business” meaning pro-corporate, anti-competition, pro-rich, anti-worker, anti-small business policies. Small business is always being used as a right wing lying point excuse to lower taxes on the rich. Thus increasing our debt and money we need to borrow. Fiscal conservatism should mean paying our bills.

    If we want to start defining pro-business as actually being pro-competition, specifically in that allowing small businesses to be able to compete on a fair playing field with each other, and allowing business to have to compete (or bargain) for the best workers, we would need policies that control corporate monopolization of resources and corporate ownership of the government and the media. Getting rid of corporate criminals and making sure the market is based on a fair playing field with an actual meritocracy unlike it is now. End bailouts, end Too Big To Fail. That is what is going to help small business and workers. The deal is though, this is going to take government oversight and regulation. So I really don’t see anyone on the economic right going along with this, at least initially.
    I do think talking about these issues is the correct thing to do. (And I admit, I’m certainly not the one to do it, sorry about the grammar.)
    One issue I see coming up, is how to help (small) companies deal with flex time/maternity leave for women with children. The NWP should be for generous maternity and family leave, but I think it’s more than fair for small business to be asking how they are going to handle that. Because it’s challenging doesn’t mean it can’t be done. I imagine a lot of the first step is about changing our mindset.

  72. Violet says:

    The central question of political alignment is still unresolved. Unsurprisingly, since that’s one of the key unanswered questions in this whole thing. What kind of movement is this? Do we want to align leftist women with other leftists, or do we want to align leftist women with other women?

    In either case, let’s take as a given that abortion rights are a non-negotiable part of the platform. If I want a party that will compromise on that, I’ve already got the Democrats, thank you very much.

    A “leftist women + other leftists” party would be the kind of thing we’re talking about with economic populism interwoven with feminism, with a full range of progressive values, environmentalism, etc.

    A “leftist women + other women” party might be more what I mentioned in D2. This would be specific women’s issues only: choice, fair pay, gender parity, violence, rape, respect, porntastic culture, the ERA, etc. This party would not go into the other leftist issues, such as environmentalism, economic populism, etc. While adamant anti-choicers would abstain, I personally think that many moderate and conservative women would sign up for all the other reasons, regardless of where they are on abortion. I think the obsession with abortion is in many ways analagous to the rightwing obsession with guns and gays: it’s something that occurs in a vacuum. A strong pro-woman movement, speaking out and advancing on many fronts, could have widespread appeal.

    However, there is the question of whether an ecumenical movement of women is really possible. People keep trying to make it happen in various ways, but it’s tricky.

    On the other hand, a “leftist women + other leftists” political alignment would have the critical advantage of momentum/juice. The constituencies there are precisely those constituencies who have been hung out to dry by Obama’s Democratic party. That’s where I’m seeing and hearing the restiveness. And it takes a lot to get a third party movement off the ground. (Also, since I’m a leftist myself and extremely invested in those other issues, my heart lies in that direction.)

    The great risk, though, is always with ensuring that women’s rights don’t get prioritized downwards and right off the page. And to those who believe that simply asserting human equality as a principle is enough: it’s not. I wish it were. But it’s not. Even asserting gender equality isn’t enough: review the history of the 20th century, from socialism to the modern Democratic party. There are deep cultural/psychological forces at work that must be exposed and combated to keep women’s issues from being sacrificed “for the greater good.”

  73. stateofdisbelief says:

    Here are a few of my thoughts:

    1) Any strategy must be cognizant of the incredible influence of $$$$ on politics. The American populace is easily swayed by spiffy Madison Avenue campaigns and a strong grassroots movement would be essential in getting exposure. There are numerous strategies for getting low cost or free exposure for such a movement and an entire sub-group should be dedicated to this specific effort.

    2) I believe that gender is more appropriate than just ‘women’ because it is the alpha males against “us.” Women’s rights and gay rights are natural partners. We should cultivate that partnership.

    3) I believe you mentioned it but an essential ingredient is the willingness to take a few steps back initially as those who used to be able to count on our votes stumble without our support. Many of us may not see “the promised land” in our lifetimes. Because of this we should have a long-range plan that addresses realistic expectations so as not to frustrate or discourage those in the “now” who will witness the storm of change.

    4) For anyone interested in a great organization that tracks women’s progress in two of the major pillars of social dominance: politics and corporate governance, http://www.catalyst.org tracks that data.

    Thanks for this violet.

  74. Kookaburra says:

    Would having a website for each State, which broke down each candidate’s qualifications (from dogcatch to Sheriff to mayor to State Senate) help? That way women would have a central resource to go to for information each election.

    Perhaps a subdomain in a larger website?
    like, oregon.newagenda.net, and have several people maintain just THAT State’s website. Every State domain should share a format and stylesheet with the main domain. Every State’s page should be set up as similarly as possible.

    Please for the love of Hera, said website would have to be less clunky than NOW’s.

  75. hipparchia says:

    The central question of political alignment is still unresolved. Unsurprisingly, since that’s one of the key unanswered questions in this whole thing. What kind of movement is this? Do we want to align leftist women with other leftists, or do we want to align leftist women with other women?

    how about lwp — leftist womens party? the party could sometimes align with other leftists on some leftist issues and sometimes align with women on some womens issues.

  76. stateofdisbelief says:

    I think we should call ourselves the ”
    Majority party”. It’s positive and sends the perfect subconscious message. You start out three steps ahead with the right title.

  77. Topper Harley says:

    The Libertarians have something called the “Free State Project”, where they’re trying to get 20K people to move to New Hampshire. 20K is enough to swing that state’s local party and give you a good shot at the federal House and Senate.

    Also, look at the current talent pool for politicians. Janet Napolitano, for example, was a state Attorney General, who parlayed that into a Governorship and then a cabinet position. Darth, er, Dick Cheney was an intern for another Congressman, got elected to the House, and then managed to finagle himself a VP slot.

    I think we all know where Obama got his start ;)

    The point here is that you don’t necessarily have to get elected right off the bat — you’re just building up cred and making contacts with the money machines that are the state and local parties. I’ll use Janet Napolitano again. When running for governor, she was able to get ~ $1 million dollars from the rich dude who runs the Arizona Democratic Party apparatus.

    I guess what I’m trying to say to say is that it’s possible to do an internal reform. The actual talent pool for elected office is thinner than you might think, so pursuing some state level power would do some good.

  78. lambert strether says:

    Re: #72 Again on the unresolved: (a) “women’s issues must be prioritized” and (b) “equal rights for all” seem contradictory to me. Personally (and Hipparchia will hit for me this) I’m for (a) on the purely pragmatic grounds that “putting women first,” with a ~51% plus “enough” men strategy, is the surest way to cause the Democrats intense immediate pain, and either start the inside/outside process rolling in our favor, or send the Dems the way of the Whigs. Both good outcomes.

  79. octogalore says:

    Cwaltz – my point wasn’t to champion Palin as the ultimate economic conservative politician, but to say that people sometimes back politicians who have View A and View B because they think View B is going to do more good than View A does harm. Or they may be pro View A but not heavily influenced by it in choosing politicians. In Palin’s case, she’s anti-choice, but we can’t really know what her motivation for choosing McDonnell or Hoffman was. I would have chosen them over the alternatives, and I’m pro choice.

    As to how she governed. Palin made the second-largest cuts of the construction budget in state history. She sold the jet paid for by a previous administration, refused a pay raise, and refused to take an allowance for hotels and instead drove 50 miles back and forth to work. While Alaska was a big recipient of federal earmarks, Palin did cut back on pork-barrel requests and requested less in federal funding each year than her predecessor.

    My general point is that if the NWP is beholden to a set of liberal precepts, even if I happen to agree with many (not all) of them, I don’t think that’s best for women because women will then come to be defined by those precepts, not all of which will be woman-oriented but will basically be the BloggerBoyz platform – and then we’ll be back to being led around by the BBs. The woman’s platform should be woman-oriented and that way we will be less susceptible by being leveraged by those who don’t have our interests at heart.

  80. MojaveWolf says:

    @Aspen #71 — ITA! Greater regulation of large companies and regulations allowing for greater competition helps small business, not hurts them (and I say this as someone who had two successful very small start-ups, one that lasted years and was abandoned due to illness and one that was started in the early 90′s and is still going strong, tho I left after a few years to pursue a writing career). I also know many small business people I know who were hurt or put out of business by large corporations (and I have family members who work for huge corporations, fwiw). But that’s a whole different side topic.

    Re: Octo’s comment you were referring to,when phrased as vaguely as this: Moderate, safety-net-oriented, regulated capitalist economic views that stem from there are ones many women do feel are quite compatible with feminism. Of course, to actually achieve such an economy, I think we’d have to move leftwards of where we are now. I think most European economies are decent examples of this, tho, again, probably not the right place for this argument.

    @Violet — The problem w/people inother movements who suggest sacrificing women’s rights is an easy one- tell those people to fuck off. Since greater power for women in no way impedes any of these movements, if someone suggest women should take a back seat, that’s cause they got a problem w/women.

    Speaking as someoone who views all these things as vital, if there were a number of differnet alternatives, I’d do what I do now at ballot time and go w/the one that gave me the best all round picture and/or the best chance of a good showing combined w/good policies. I think most other people would do the same. But feminism, civil rights, civil liberties, and environmentalism in no way should conflict with each other, and if some asswipe congressperson says “give ground on abortion or we’ll not for the environmental bill”, that’s a congressperson who deserves getting slammed out of office asap, however it can be managed. Better a Republican than a Dem who’ll stab you in the back and diminish some of our core issues”.

  81. myiq2xu says:

    There seems to be two basic options:

    1. Demand ideological purity on the issues and remain a minority party


    2. Go for the “big tent” and accept compromises on the issues.

    Either option has pluses and minuses.

  82. Violet says:

    Continuing to think out loud, let me give my pitch for why I think a “leftist women + other leftists” alignment might be preferable to a women’s issues-only movement. And by leftist women + other leftists, what I’m imagining is a progressive party that is driven and informed by feminism, so that women’s rights aren’t tacked on but integral to the vision and thinking. (Artemis knows what I mean!)

    I think that a women-only approach might be more difficult to pull off, both politically and psychologically. Getting all women to agree on something is as hard as getting all men to agree on something — harder, perhaps, given that women are discouraged to think of themselves as a political entity. And on a personal, psychological level, we know that women organize themselves the way all humans do: on family, kinship, ethnic, community levels. So creating a pan-woman alliance is going against the grain. It’s still a worthy goal, but I’m talking feasibility.

    On the other hand, the social and economic crises that are looming will hit all of us as families and communities. Poverty, financial collapse, oil wars, pollution, unsustainability, religious fanaticism, political instability, tyranny. I mentioned peak oil for a reason: we’re heading into a global rough patch, and I expect the 21st century to be a wild ride. We need to be building a political and economic vision to meet those challenges. I feel that a feminist-driven, woman-inspired Happy Healthy Community platform could do that.

    For a real-world example, look at Iceland: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/feb/22/iceland-women

    The women’s movement there has evolved into a full-scale social/political/economic program, a bucket brigade if you will, to stabilize the country. Economics, environmentalism, human liberty — it’s all there. But it’s driven by women, thoroughly grounded in uncompromising feminism. That’s my kind of deal right there.

    I mention Corn Mother mythology because an American version of what the Icelanders are doing could easily be rooted in our own continent’s rich history of female power and matrifocal culture. As Artemis mentioned, the First Wave of feminists were themselves profoundly inspired by the Iroquois League. I think a movement inspired to recover the balance and wisdom of indigenous cultures could be extremely appealing. I just do keep warning about treading carefully because cultural appropriation is a real issue.

  83. lambert strether says:

    #81 Ideological purity vs. compromise; I thought I was back in the single payer debate hearing from a PO advocate! (see interesting diary on “reflexivity” on this very point here.)

    Seriously, the issue is power, yes? I’m not at all clear why the purity/compromise dichotomy should form the central axis of evaluation here. Nor is it clear that compromise is always the road to power. Was it for the abolitionists? The women’s suffrage movement? Historians correct me, but I’m not sure it was.

  84. lambert strether says:

    #82 typo: “tacked on” -> “not tacked on”

  85. angus says:

    Third option: change the mode of election from first past the post to proportional representation.

  86. myiq2xu says:


    You’re talking single issues,not a party with positions on all issues.

    The abolitionists and suffragettes were single-issue groups. Once their issues were resolved, the groups disbanded.

  87. MojaveWolf says:

    My brain is fried and I’ve forgotten where I wanted to head this morning, but the one thing I remember thinking, is whatever anyone on the left does, whether 3rd party or Democrat, they need to quit listening to consultants about “electability” (even if the consultant is their spouse or a prior successful president) and speak passionately about causes they really believe in. Gore lost as much because of his failure there as because of media lying and cheerleading for his opponent or vote stealing. Later, he became popular speaking out about what he cared about. Hillary went from a huge lead’ to trailing because she failed to do this, then almost pulled off a comeback (and in actual vote totals, did pull off the comeback) when she went back to what she believed in, which made an enormous difference in her speaking style and ability to connect with people. Ross Perot changed the whole political equation in ’92 doing this, even tho he ultimately lost, and he might have pulled off the miracle had Bill not been to some extent doing’ the same thing.

    They also shouldn’t be afraid of being called “policy wonks” by our idiot media. Both Clintons and Perot were policy wonks, and Gore failed in part because he failed to wonk out on environmental and trade issues that were near and dear to his heart. Kerry got thumped when he should have won easily maybe in part because of cheating (okay, probably because of cheating), but it would have been an easy win if he hadn’t ran a horribly dull, say-nothing campaign. People may be easy to manipulate, but they do respond to passion, and they are mostly both smart enough and willing to follow well presented arguments.

    Tho the point above about money being needed to get these arguments out is also correct, especially on the national stage; that is why I was thinking congressional districts and senate seats and state elections for a starting point; they are for the most part a lot cheaper. If a certain groundswell can get started, then the contributions needed for large states and a competitive national campaign (which would also mean competing with all the major media as well as the two mainstream parties).

    Times like these are historically when 3rd parties have the best chance — things were relatively benign seeming in 84 and 88, so Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition and Gore’s environmentalism were easy for the media to brush aside in favor of Dukakis; now, like in ’92, people are willing to ignore the media and listen to the outsider. That’s not going to change any time soon, either.

  88. lambert strether says:

    #86 Fair enough — though the abolitionists certainly provoked the Republicans into being, which is a good thing.

    Let me revise and extend my remarks. I still don’t like the “compromise”/”purist” frame at all, because it’s not clear what’s being compromised on and what’s being held to be pure. For example, violet writes on “alignment”:

    A “leftist women + other leftists” party… [versus]

    A “leftist women + other women” party …

    In that framing, it’s not a question of a big or a small tent, where lots of compromise makes the tent big, and a little compromise makes the tent small. It’s more like having a house that will be big enough if a porch is built on the front, or a deck is built on the back, but both the porch and the deck cannot be built at the same time. Each solution involves purity, each involves compromise.

    Now, in the biggest imaginable (not possible) tent, you’d have leftist women + other leftists + other women + …. . But that’s not what Violet wrote. Are you saying that’s possible? If so, why?

  89. jumpjet says:

    I like Violet’s formulation in #82- a women-driven movement that puts women’s issues first but has priorities lined up for the aftermath of achieving victory in women’s issues. I think it could soak up a lot of liberal support by championing the empowerment of women as both a goal in itself and a means to achieve dramatic political change. I, as a man, would be willing to work for that.

  90. Aspen says:

    I’d like to think a leftist women’s party, informed by feminism, could have, albeit limited, attractiveness for some conservative/right wing women. For example, in the following issues:
    -The LWP would very publicly jump down the throats of leftist males who make misogynist attacks on right wing women
    -anti prostitution/pornography may be attractive to socially conservative women (although it may have the opposite effect on the libertarian right types).
    -Having someone smart & with good communication skills (like mojave wolf and many others here) explain why left policies do not have to = bad for small/individual business

    We need a candidate(s) with a big mouth :)

  91. stateofdisbelief says:

    One other critical point. To make this happen will require real, hard, work by a large number of people. So many people are willing to throw out ideas, but how many are willing to sacrifice many hours of dedication to the cause? How many will be willing to do this without remuneration? Such a movement at it’s earliest stages cannot afford to rely on paid staff.

    This will be difficult BUT NOT impossible. What will make it impossible is the unwillingness of those who believe in the movement to engage in its work.

  92. madamab says:

    I like the leftist women + other leftists formulation. But, I still want it to be the National (Leftist?) Women’s Party, with the motto “Women First.”

    I think Hillary is already setting us up for understanding that achieving REAL political change will only happen through the empowerment of women. She’s been going all around the world talking about that.

    Clearly, just electing people from a different Party does not achieve change any more. The last time that happened was when Bill Clinton was elected after 12 years of Republican dominance, and then Dubya was elected after him and destroyed everything he had accomplished. The Obama administration broke that pattern. Now what? It’s time for a new approach.

  93. Violet says:

    stateofdisbelief, people will volunteer and sacrifice if there’s tangible goal and, ideally, a human focus. Look at all the hours some of us spent on the Clinton campaign. (And look at all the hours people spent on the Obama campaign.)

    Re this business of compromise: I’m not sure where that’s coming from. Myiq2xu, we’re at the stage of developing our platform, not compromising it! And we’re not talking about a single-issue party in any event. The question is whether it’s a horizontal alignment, pulling together women from right/left/middle (which would necessitate leaving off some economic and progressive issues beyond feminism), or whether it’s a more vertical alignment, pulling together left feminists with other leftist constituencies.

    Both types of orientation have pros and cons, as we’ve discussed. I tend to go with the leftist approach because of all the things I’ve mentioned already. And also, just to follow up on things I’ve written elsewhere, I think genuine economic populism (which is left-based) is a potentially huge draw to everyone who works for a living, regardless of where they stand on cultural issues.

  94. MojaveWolf says:

    @81 — Not sure if you were referring to me, but wasn’t suggesting idealogical purity, but I do think we need politicians who won’t back down on *winnable issues* cause they have the current dem’s fetish for compromise. I feel very strongly about no animal experimentation and decriminalizing/legalizing drugs, but *especially* for a third party candidate, these positions would assure marginalization (otoh, no animal experimentation for cosmetics and such, hey,you may not win, but calling for that’s not going to hurt you much). You’d have to be exceptionally articulate w/great speaking skills and enormous charisma to have a chance of winning if you tacked those positions on.

    It makes a difference how the mainstream views things, you can only take on so many positions they view as “out there” before you torpedo your candidacy, at least until you reach a certain level. The stuff I was talking about isn’t really viewed as wild eyed hippie stuff even by the people who disagree w/it. Hell, I think most, including most conservative, Americans will actually respect you more if you say some version of “the hell with the polls, here’s what I think, I don’t expect. you all to agree with me on everything but I hope you’ll agree with me more than the other guy/gal; vote on whoever you think is best.”

    Violet’s totally right that charisma plays into all of this, but such stances engendger a sort of charisma all their own, if they are combined w/a good speaking style.

    Plus, one of the charms of running a start up 3rd party is that we’re aiming to shake up the dems more than get a congressional majority right now; it might actually be easier to get the devoted small following we need to get off the ground by not compromising. And after that, we might not need to compromise to reframe the entire debate.

  95. stateofdisbelief says:

    Violet said at 93:

    stateofdisbelief, people will volunteer and sacrifice if there’s tangible goal and, ideally, a human focus. Look at all the hours some of us spent on the Clinton campaign. (And look at all the hours people spent on the Obama campaign.)

    Don’t misunderstand. My comments were not meant to dissuade but to inject this reality into the discussion as part of any “planning” agenda. Political campaigns are driven by and large by paid workers, whether those workers are being paid by outside organizations or the campaign itself. The actual number of volunteer worker unpaid hours per person is fairly low when considered as a ratio of the whole. It’s just a practical matter that a movement like this must address up front for a realistic chance of success.

    Another reality is that the instant gratification or closure of a specific political campaign is not something that can be relied upon to energize a movement. As I noted above, part of the strategy should be to plan for the frustration and discouragement that may arise when the current structure begins to go through the necessary adjustment. It will feel like we’re moving backward (see my comment at 73, #3) initially.

    These considerations are just as important as platforms as ideologies. That is just my contribution.

  96. lambert strether says:

    #94 on “a sort of charisma” — a lot of Hillary Clinton’s charisma was “performance”-based (both senses). Boring bullet points about policy? No way! Taking on any question in a small group setting was a high-risk performance that she executed effortlessly. We can do that. We can’t spend billions on crafting a top-down teebee presence, but that, we can do. In other words, lack of bullsh*t is a charisma of its own. I think people, all sexes and genders, are dying for that.

    * * *

    Let me now argue against myself (and myiq (and Violet)) on left women + other left vs. left women + other women. I wonder if a common theme that would appeal to both other left and other women would be reining in the banksters, say by treating banks as regulated public utilities. I think the other left would appreciate shrinking a sector that has far too much power, and the small business owners in the other women would appreciate access to credit once more. And both would like the criminals and the looters reined in.

  97. stateofdisbelief says:

    Oh, and a “Constitutional Convention” is an important first step. From an OD perspective, the group would have to establish a steering structure and methodology for gathering and coalescing ideas toward the goal of developing a “Constitution.” Absent this “founding” document you’ll end up with the same splintered factions that the PUMA movement suffered. Everyone needs to get on one side and move in the same direction.

  98. lambert strether says:

    #95 the instant gratification or closure of a specific political campaign is not something that can be relied upon to energize a movement. … Many of us may not see “the promised land” in our lifetimes.

    +1000. One of the more dis-spiriting aspects of the past few years has been watching the blogs turn into the political equivalent of sports bars — the difference being that the political blogs seem to think that yelling at the screen affects the play on the field. Totally short term, totally technocratic, totally tribal…

    It would be nice to step outside that for a goal measured in decades. That might be important to those of us of a certain age who’d like to try to pass a better world along — and, given the economic unpleasantries of the last 10 or 15 years, have fewer hostages to fortune than we might otherwise have, and a lot more methods to articulate our our grievances and dreams…

  99. Violet says:

    Another thing I want to note is that while we’re using terms like “left” to designate existing political alliances that we all understand, ideally a new woman’s party would feel separate and distinct from those existing identifications. It would feel like something new, since if it’s firmly rooted in feminism, it will be something new.

    For example, look at Iceland (from that article I linked to above):

    “We have five core feminine values. First, risk awareness: we will not invest in things we don’t understand. Second, profit with principles – we like a wider definition so it is not just economic profit, but a positive social and environmental impact. Third, emotional capital. When we invest, we do an emotional due diligence – or check on the company – we look at the people, at whether the corporate culture is an asset or a liability. Fourth, straight talking. We believe the language of finance should be accessible, and not part of the alienating nature of banking culture. Fifth, independence. We would like to see women increasingly financially independent, because with that comes the greatest freedom to be who you want to be, but also unbiased advice.”

    Four of those five values strike me as neither left nor right in terms of the existing American political landscape. Risk awareness, emotional capital, straight talking, independence: those are values that exist outside the left-right divide.

  100. MojaveWolf says:

    @Aspen — a totally disbelieving thank you. My writing is distracted and exhausted and unproofed today; I’m only showing up here when I’m burnt from my other writing. Yours is actually much better. I do have the background to know what I’m talking about, but not very articulate right now; just excited about trying to help w/something important.

    @StateofDisbelief — I see what you’re saying, and you’re not entirely wrong. I worked full time on a recent (successful!) political campaign, and loved it and would never have worked for the other side, but was only able to do this because I got paid; not a lot, but enough. It’s not a difference in enthusiasm, but people gotta eat (and cover their costs in doing the work, etc). They have less to give if it’s not a full time thing for them; but that’s not a critique of people, just reality. Volunteers will do what they can, it just won’t be as much. Hopefully, it will be enough (or, alternatively, we could try to find a Perot or Soros equivalent as patron, or generate a good buzz in various magazines/websites etc that could get us word of mouth donations that would at least allow a workable # of paid positions)(tho I’m guessing everyone is assuming this a spare-time thing for now)

    genuine economic populism (which is left-based) is a potentially huge draw to everyone who works for a living, regardless of where they stand on cultural issues. & lack of bullsh*t is a charisma of its own. I think people, all sexes and genders, are dying for that. Yes!

  101. yttik says:

    Okay I’ll post this and then duck and run. Feminism has belonged to the Left for many decades now. Personally I’m getting a little tired of fighting for the same damn things, the ERA, abortion rights, anti-pornography. I think it’s time for women on the Right to take up the cause. Let them run with it. True, they might screw it all up, but I’m not sure they could do any worse then having control of the House and Senate, no ERA, no FOCA, and an anti abortion amendment about to pass.

  102. lambert strether says:

    #99 Risk awareness, emotional capital, straight talking, independence: those are values that exist outside the left-right divide.

    +100, +1,000,000 If those values are connected to a (non-appropriating) Corn Mother metaphor and a charismatic candidate…

  103. Topper Harley says:


    Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem says all methods of election (short of dictatorship) are flawed when there are more than two choices.

  104. sharon says:

    Violet wrote:
    Four of those five values strike me as neither left nor right in terms of the existing American political landscape. Risk awareness, emotional capital, straight talking, independence: those are values that exist outside the left-right divide.

    AGREED! Though I am an avid follower of Violet’s blog, I don’t feel very turned on by a LWP. Or WLP. Liberals evicted most of us last year from their camp when they went Onuts. Same with progressives. I don’t even know what those labels mean anymore, because lately it feels like the biggest misogynists out there are all ‘liberal’.

    But I DO feel turned on by things that would appeal to Republican and liberal women alike: straight-talking, independence that Violet points out above. There are many women that are concerned about schools, about access to jobs, opportunities, equal pay, and other issues upon which conservative and liberal-leaning women could probably agree. I backed a Republican male candidate for mayor over a Democratic liberal female. Why? Because he walked the Latino neighborhoods with me, was with a group of us when a gang killing went down in a rough neighborhood, worked on stopping pot shops from going in on every frickin’ corner, and felt maybe we ought not to be the ideal end-destination for all the homeless in California.

    It was his VALUES, not ideological position, that got me to back him, as a woman. Yeah he doesn’t like gay marriage, and that doesn’t sit well with me, but as mayor, he has no ability to enact anything in that direction. However, making this city safer for me and my child to live in was more important than his sex, his party, or anything else.

    We have to choose candidates this way – do they respond to our issues? If they do, back them. It makes the other candidates run scared, I’ve noticed. I see the state reps running for 2010 pandering to my same group now because they figured out we can MOBILIZE.

    Be careful about putting labels on the women’s party or making its issues too left. Open the doors as wide as possible to draw in as many women as possible. I had a lot of conservative women on my fight here recently, and I realize we have more in common than I ever would have thought. Our common theme for our recent effort: protect the kids, protect the schools, protect our neighborhoods.

    This is a local municipality example, but do you see how this could work?

  105. Keri says:

    Re 65, Victoria, you are making a broad assumption that we are all white, we aren’t. (This is a tactic used by both the right wingers and the fauxgressives to try to divide women. Shirley Chisholm had some words of wisdom about that… It was the alliance of the McGovern campaign and several African American male politicians that played the nastiest political games against her when she ran for president in 1972. McGovern, just like Obama, was dismissive of feminist issues, and threw those elements from the platform away for antifeminist Dem votes. McGovern and the men in the Congressional Black Caucus (Chisholm was then the only women in it) tried every trick in the book to try to force Chisholm out before the convention, and to try to keep her from speaking at the convention too. (Mighty familiar to what we saw in 2008!

    And as someone else pointed out a number of us have some Native American ancestry (I know I do), and Native American women are the women who have the highest poverty rate. Many of us grew up lower middle class and poor. Leftist populist liberal feminism isn’t a “whites only” club by a long shot, some of us are mixed race and many of us grew up in racially mixed communities. We’re a heck of a lot more aware of the nexus of gender+race+social class discrimination than the elite fauxgressives, unlike them, we lived under it still and live under it.

    Shirley Chisholm united that community into an admiration of her, with enough votes to fight her way into the 1972 Democratic Party convention. Hillary Clinton united that community in 2008 and actually, by votes, should have been the nominee.

  106. Northwest rain says:

    # yttik says:

    Okay I’ll post this and then duck and run. Feminism has belonged to the Left for many decades now. Personally I’m getting a little tired of fighting for the same damn things, the ERA, abortion rights, anti-pornography. I think it’s time for women on the Right to take up the cause. Let them run with it. True, they might screw it all up, but I’m not sure they could do any worse then having control of the House and Senate, no ERA, no FOCA, and an anti abortion amendment about to pass.
    November 22nd, 2009 at 11:16 pm EST

    Absolutely YES! I so agree with this. There are a lot of very strong women on the left — and there is a whole lot of discontent with their male dumb a$$ “leaders”.

    The 0bamacrats have f&cked up so royally — that honestly I do NOT believe that the dem party is alive anymore. It was packed up and MOVED to Chicago for g sakes!! Chicago which is probably the most corrupt city in the US — perhaps not yet the whole world. That killed the party — as if now whoever owns the party in the future will move it to another place — WTF is that??? Sounds to me that the center of the whole f&cking universe is Chicago??

    So one party is dead — and the wacky religious right have co-opted the GOP along with the neocos — and that party according to some is also dead.

    I guess we have the extreme left and extreme right fighting each other — as well as for the ownership of women’s uteri??

    Seems like if women could organize themselves they should take over BOTH parties and then clean up the messes left by the patriarchy.


  107. Northwest rain says:

    Damn — I mean there are a lot of strong women on the RIGHT — who could take over the GOP party.

  108. Jeff says:

    Violet: I think we need to say to hell with Roe v. Wade.

    That’s how it’s done. Risk EVERYTHING. Is that your Fourth Wave?

  109. Violet says:

    sharon wrote:

    Be careful about putting labels on the women’s party or making its issues too left. Open the doors as wide as possible to draw in as many women as possible.

    I hear what you’re saying. And for the sake of building a party, that’s a good approach.

    But on the other hand, the whole motivation for building a party in the first place is to fight for the stuff that the majors are ignoring or have abandoned. This is why abortion rights, for example, is critical: if we want a party that’s soft on that, we already got one.

    I agree with pulling in as many people as possible, but I also think our platform needs to be focused on what the majors are neglecting: women’s rights (abortion, fair pay, etc.), economic populism, healthcare, real progressive values (the stuff Obama has punted on).

  110. Violet says:

    Jeff: risk everything? Are you kidding? Everything is already at risk!

    I guess you don’t know this, but feminists have been aware for years that Roe v. Wade is a precarious way to assure our rights. The whole situation is absurd and has turned into political blackmail.

    Honestly, you sound like one of those Democratic men who keep threatening us. Vote for us or else! Boo! Roe v. Wade! Boo!

  111. Jeff says:

    That was meant to be congratulatory. I found it exciting to hear a fearless “enough!”. Why would you assume I wouldn’t know feminists were aware? I just thought a public thrashing of Roe was noteworthy, sadly because of its rarity.

    “…one of those Democratic men…”? Seriously? (I must truly suck at this) No. Just, No.

  112. Violet says:

    My mistake. I’ve heard that so many times, you see. HOW DARE YOU RISK ROE????


  113. Artemis March says:

    For women to be the top priority and the engine of transformation, we cannot be disappeared into old groupings. I have never thought of feminism as being part of the Left. Feminism is neither Left nor Right. Those are archaic, male-identified ways of thinking, ways of constellating sets of issues, and they have utterly failed women, and failed all of us on just about every issue. That’s why we can’t fit ourselves into those boxes. When I hear people say things like “pulling from the Left,” I cringe. No, we don’t pull from the Left but lead from ourselves. And we play hardball with both major parties.

    Yes to bygones 23 and yttik 29 that we have no rights if we don’t have authority over our own bodies, and we need much more than equality. We need justice and respect, and to live without the threat of rape and abuse. and yes to madamb 31 that the rape/porn culture and controlling our own reproductive system is the same issue—what I call bodily integrity and self-determination.

    No man, no priest, no doctor, no state, no religion has any right to interfere with that. Anything that touches, enters, or leaves a woman’s body is totally her business. No “rights” bestowed on men by any religion, culture, court, or legal system can trump our rights to be secure in and have control over our own person.

    Violet, can you describe your appropriation concerns 68 and what they have to do with my comment 25? I’m talking about justice, honor, and respect for the two most invisible groups in this country, women and Native Americans (half of whom are women). I’m talking about working with each other. I’m talking about recognizing a superior world view and ecological value system that needs to inform our work going forward. I’m thinking about how we draw from those two huge bodies of experience to transform the cultural narrative as an essential part of advancing the needs and interests of women and NA. I’m assuming we are all aware of the many internal political and strategic differences among NA just as there are among women.

  114. JSF says:


    I commend what you are doing here. Can I, as a partisan of the Right (who supports Palin for 2012) tell you how to lobby the Right for your views?

    First, don’t look nationally to influence on the views you mentioned above. Start at the ADC level, the assembly district committees. They are the local activists, win them over and you can easily get your agenda in with the next rising tide of politicos from the area.

    Second, why do social conservatives (I’m a Conservative with a Liberterian streak — Huckabee is a Social Conservative, I’m not and so are many others, which is why I am not supporting him) support Palin?

    Simple, after the way she was treated by Lettermen and the false ethics charges (Read Riehl Wold View and The Other Mccain about Jesse Griffin and the other Alaskan Bloggers, the funds for the charges came from Chicago by way of DC) they see her as their wife/sister/daughter/mother who was attacked.

    Sell your views to the Social Cons as something to help their wife/mother/etc. et. al.

    Third, the same people that went after Hillary and Palin are the same folks that the Tea partiers are against (I know, I am involved with these groups too), the self-proclaimed masters of the Universe, Ivy educated Liberals (and Moderate republicans) — one cannot look at Obama and notice that Andrew Sullivan does his dirty work.

    The enemy of my enemy is my friend. And you call them Bloggerboyz, I call them Ivy League Elitists. Anyone in America with a good idea can make anything happen, Ivies not included. They disparaged Hillary, Palin and Ferraro in 2008.

    As a Jew who worked as a partisan in both D and R’s, I note by having people in both parties, we increase support in certain issues (i.e. Israel until Obama), do the same.

    Violet, I wish you and your fellow feminists good luck. This is the only Blog I read that gives me hope that feminism will stay away from hypocrisy and go after any who treat woman like crap.

  115. Briar says:

    One huge thing is to undo the way anything to do with the left has been stigmatised. Just the word left obviously sends people who would benefit from root and branch reform of the kind advocated by leftwing parties into a real tizzy of distress and automatic rejection. Nice people are leftists. Nice people go to church, want the ten commandments on the court house walls, want women in their kitchens, want the people with money to run things, automatically assume that capitalism *is* democracy, just as Christianity *is* virtue. These things have been central to the control exercised the patriarchal establishment for decades, at least since Rooseveldt introduced his mildly socialist New Deal and gave the right a target to snipe at with their “In God We Trust” on the American currency and similar corrosive tactics over the years. These are all prejudices which stand in the way of true democracy and reform. The only thing to do is oppose them and keep opposing them, just as we have to keep opposing the automatic misogyny that constantly repeats lies about Hilary Clinton and Sarah Palin. There are fundamental assumptions deeply engrained in our culture which are dragging us back into tyranny and a new dark age, assumptions which want male warrior kings to rule us and the church to tell us how to behave to one another. They have to be explicitly opposed because as long as they are nervously skirted around or appeased they will ensure that nothing changes.

  116. janicen says:

    I have been back and forth reading all of these insightful comments but I have to say, I fall on the side of not identifying with the left, but identifying with all women. That doesn’t mean putting reproductive rights on the back burner, it means defining reproductive healthcare rights as women’s rights, not just abortion rights. Women’s rights are human rights; women’s issues are human issues. Identifying with the left or the right will limit us to old constructs that have divided us in the past. We don’t want to get trapped into saying that we are the NWP and we support women’s rights but just not that woman.

  117. stateofdisbelief says:

    On the issue of what to call such a movement, some may not agree, but you should avoid terms that can be subconsciously limiting.
    “women’s party” “leftist” etc. will be limiting from a psychological standpoint. Find something that people can embrace at the threshold. I think I mentioned above, an example might be the “Majority Party.” or something that reflects the underlying values of the movement without being limiting. Equality, Community, etc are such values that could be incorporated into the movement’s name.

  118. Unree says:

    I endorse stateofdisbelief’s “Majority Party,” if only because it’ll give the BloggerBoyz conniptions.

    As we launch this movement I think we should keep in mind how threatening it will be, and how much ferocious pushback we’ll get. Think of how much money and power is at stake. When the unbelievably misogynous/crazy/dishonest etc. responses rain down, we have to remember that we saw it all coming.

  119. octogalore says:

    From #72, I would endorse the “leftist women and other women” rather than “leftist women and other leftists. Of course, this is partly out of self interest. But I see the latter as really an extension of the world surrounding the major feminist websites. Despite all our good intentions, how would the principled feminism that this blog espouses remain dominant in such a movement, when it isn’t in today’s feminist movement? Feministe sees itself as “leftist women and other leftists.” Case in point.

    Also the LWAOL group excludes a bunch of women who have something to add.

  120. Branjor says:

    ***The abolitionists and suffragettes were single-issue groups. Once their issues were resolved, the groups disbanded.***

    So, once men’s big issue was resolved long ago and they became dominant, did they disband their groups? Not on your life. In order to preserve gains, groups have to stay active permanently.

  121. lambert strether says:

    “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

    Why? The enemy of my enemy can certainly be my enemy as well.

    I’m thinking of a scene in the third volume of LOTR, where two orcs of different species are fighting each other. Samwise is happy to see dissension, but Frodo points out that if the orcs saw them, they’d drop their enmity in a minute and come after them. Maybe call the orcs the Ds and the Rs, just for grins…

  122. teresainpa says:

    octogalore, I see NOTHING wrong with promoting your own self interest. Everyone does it.
    The following post had me sighing:

    lambert strether says:

    And then there are the melting ice caps in the room. I’m not seeing global warming or climate on the lists (except in the limited form of “climate protection”). If one makes the connection between putting women first and sustainability, as I think one can, then climate comes into the debate, but now it doesn’t.

    Incidentally, back to E4, if Winona Laduke headed the ticket, I’d bet she considers the land or the earth a constituency. That’s another way to talk about climate, I guess.

    WTF does this person not get women’s equality? ALL women! Leftists think if they take care of all these other things women will be better off automatically. It is the kind of BS that turned me off to the green party for good and leftists in general. I am a liberal not a leftist. Leftists are no more pro-women than democrats or republicans.

    For the women here that think the most important issue is choice….. I am militantly pro-choice because I do not feel that women should be told what to do with their bodies. But that also includes Michelle Duggar’s right to have 20 children if she wants to.
    My pro-choice congressman who I have spent many hours getting elected just said on talk radio that he will not vote for the health care bill WITHOUT the sepsis amendment. He is a pro-choice democrat. This is what we get for voting for them.
    The majority of women in this country are pro-choice and more can be convinced to be so by talking about it as freedom from government. When we have a majority of women in office we will not have to worry about that issue anymore. But you have to have the guts to look at the big picture.

  123. teresainpa says:

    # lambert strether says:

    “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

    Why? The enemy of my enemy can certainly be my enemy as well.

    I’m thinking of a scene in the third volume of LOTR, where two orcs of different species are fighting each other. Samwise is happy to see dissension, but Frodo points out that if the orcs saw them, they’d drop their enmity in a minute and come after them. Maybe call the orcs the Ds and the Rs, just for grins…
    November 23rd, 2009 at 3:01 pm EST

    Republican women are not my enemy but I am guessing they are yours.

  124. Sandra S. says:

    Okay. Given the choice between Leftist Women + Other Women and Leftist Women + Other Leftists? I’d definitely push for a + Other Women kind of solution. First of all, because Other Leftists already HAVE options, whereas Conservative Women (especially the social liberal/fiscal conservative ones) are in the same boat as we are.

    I’m a big fan of pragmatism. And honestly, I don’t think this movement is going to fundamentally alter the two party system (or at least not for a few decades). So it has to be a balance of making a third party attractive enough that people would LIKE to vote for it (thus putting pressure on the existing parties to actively pursue women’s votes instead of taking them for granted), and doing what we can to strengthen the position of third parties (through campaign finance reform, fighting media consolidation, electoral fusion, etc.) thus making it plausible for people to vote for third parties in significant numbers (thus putting even more pressure on the existing parties to court women voters). But all that is the long game.

    The short game is building the movement and convincing people that a short-term loss is worth the long term gain of letting the Dems lose. Hell, if it’d help us pull in moderate conservative women, make the case that until our movement is up and running, we’ll support women on either side of the aisle. Because eventually, compromise is going to be necessary.

    Women are not a homogeneous group, not even leftist feminists, and a bigger tent is going to be difficult. But I think the key is framing. The movement is pro-choice, but the rhetoric is pro-woman: Do you trust women to control their own bodies and lives? I think that could be done across the board. We use a combination of hard facts and actual cases to really communicate the implications of policy decisions for average American women.

  125. angie says:

    “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

    Why? The enemy of my enemy can certainly be my enemy as well.

    First, that response of yours, right there, is why you will never, ever win. The concept that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” means that the secondary enemy (the enemy of my enemy) even if an enemy of yours as well can be a useful ally in defeating the common enemy & then, once the common enemy is defeated you can go back to fighting the secondary enemy.

    It is difficult to do, and that is why the world has very few winners, but lots of losers. So, you need to to ask yourself: do you actually want to win, or do you want to sit around & act morally superior because you will not deign to “work with” those whom you feel are beneath you? I’m pretty sure I know your answer, but for myself personally, I have the stomach for the fight.

    Secondly, LOR analogy? Seriously? I’ll take the Art of War any day of the week.

  126. Sandra S. says:

    Angie, I agree with your point, but… come on. I LOVE Lord of the Rings.

  127. Kali says:

    How about “The People’s Party”? Does the US already have one with that name? I like that name because it will appeal to the disenfranchised, the common person on the street. It will also reinforce the notion of women = people (not objects, cattle, etc.) when it has women’s interests as its core and primary objective.

    While I agree with Violet that “Leftist Women + Other Leftists” is more pragmatic in many ways as compared to “Leftist Women + Other Women”, I am afraid that it leaves individual female politicians open to the double standard of “she’s not acceptable because she is not perfect but he is even if he is not”. This is what happened with Hillary Clinton and Palin. Women are always held to a different standard than men in how they are evaluated with respect to a checklist of issues. Going with the “Leftist Women + Other Women” guards against that to a certain extent.

  128. lambert strether says:

    #125 Gosh!

  129. Aspen says:

    Can someone articulate what the NWP could have for women on the Right that the Republicans don’t already offer? “Left” policies that help women usually have some component of government invention involved, and the Right pretty much opposes any kind of help for anyone by the govt, other than tax cuts. The Republicans already offer that, so what else would there be?
    (I mean this question respectfully, so I hope it doesn’t come off otherwise. I am sincerely curious.)

  130. Kookaburra says:

    I for one, LOVE the majority party. I still remember the feeling of the lightbulb going on in my head when I realized that women are the majority. Our interests are not SPECIAL interests, they should be the DEFAULT.

    I would want for our movement to push that fact as much as possible. We are NOT the other, we are (both population-percentage-wise and biology-wise) the NORMAL human.

  131. Aspen says:

    For example, I can’t picture Sarah Palin picking the NWP over the Repubs, even if the NWP is non-partisan. Palin already thinks the Repubs are too liberal.

  132. Sameol says:

    Look at the way grassroots Republican women are rallying to Palin because she’s being treated unfairly. You don’t think the same would happen if she ran in the primary and her opponents and their supporters tried to reenact the ’08 Democratic primary? Policywise, a NWP might not offer them much, but in terms of fighting back against the war on women that’s raging on all sides, who knows. When you can no longer close your eyes to the fact that your own party hates you, your electoral calculations are often based on desperation or a desire to send a message.

  133. Adrienne in CA says:

    I’d like to add another option, similar to inside/outside & fusion, but without the legal constraints.

    Create or co-opt a women’s rights organization and systematically infiltrate one or more of the existing political parties to change them from within. This is what Howard Dean’s failed presidential campaign did with the Democratic Party. Renamed Democracy for America (DFA), they continued to expand membership and monthly meetings (through Meetup.com) until they had chapters, sometimes multiple chapters, in every state. Many of those chapters organized themselves into Democratic clubs that began working their way into their local party infrastructure. DFA disseminated guidelines for how to run and win public caucus elections for state party delegate. In California, one third of delegates seated in 2005 described themselves as Dean delegates. These delegates propelled Dean into a landslide victory for DNC Chair. Of course, I’ve lived to regret how Dean used the position I’d helped him win. But even as we decry how that power was used, we can learn from the successful organizing techniques used to gain it. DFA, btw, continues to produce excellent online campaign training on subjects like how to run a phone bank, effective messaging, fundraising, etc. that any group could access and use for free.

    So take an organization like NOW, for instance. What if we were to build NOW chapters everywhere to place or endorse NOW delegates within local and state parties? There could be NOW Democrats and NOW Republicans and NOW Greens — each with different underlying political philosophies, but with a core binding ethic of advancing women FIRST. Believe me, there are Democratic Party delegates like me who would sign on. The CA Democratic Party Women’s Caucus was filled with them two weekends ago.

    Using a powerful interest group as leverage, rather than a political party, also would free its members from having to be so inclusive that the core motive — WOMEN’S rights — is diluted away. I respectfully disagree with Riverdaughter. We’ve already tried being all things to all people and have allowed ourselves and our needs to be subsumed in the process. I’m ready for women and only women. That’s the tactic that every other group uses and it works. My conscience is clear in the knowledge that our increased power helps everyone.


  134. Violet says:

    A few notes here (and is my schedule turned around or what? Good morning):

    Artemis @113: I understand what you’re saying, and I completely agree with your approach. We share the same attitude, believe me. That’s why I’m inspired by the Corn Mother model. But I urge caution because I know that things can look different from the Indian side. Drawing on native-feminist themes to build a new political party, if presented respectfully and carefully, would be welcomed by some Indians. Some would even be honored. But others would have a different reaction. Some Indians completely abjure the American political process, and would be profoundly offended by any new political party claiming in any way to be inspired by indigenous people (who, needless to say, still won’t be getting their land back). Many Indians are so fed up with centuries of their culture and mythology being ransacked for icons and symbols and “inspiration” that they’re ultra-sensitive on that point. And sadly, there is often a gap between what white people think they’re doing (trying to be respectful, honoring the native heritage, etc.) and how those same efforts are perceived on the Indian side.

    So this is just what I mean about proceeding very carefully and with awareness.

  135. Violet says:

    Re the pan-woman alliance thing, my experience in the past year or so has not been encouraging. You would think, given the circumstances, that the stars were aligned for that kind of thing: both a Democrat and a Republican being trashed in the same year for the crime of being female, besides having almost nothing else in common. An outpouring of public misogyny like nothing I’ve seen.

    And yet. It wasn’t nearly enough to pull women together. The women on this blog, sure, and on a few other feminist blogs. The women who started The New Agenda. But the cultural and political divides between women are vast. It’s a worthy goal to try and bridge those divides, and it’s obvious to anyone with a brain that women-as-a-group are being screwed-over-as-a-group. But it’s still hard.

    Sameol mentions Republican women rallying around Palin. But the flip side is that most Democratic women did just the opposite. Even self-described feminists, as we all know, discovered that their hatred for other women was much stronger than their feminist principles. And they’re still at it.

    By the same token, conservative women have marinated in a culture that makes it very difficult to even discuss shared issues. Rape and sexual assault, for example: when I was at The New Agenda we started a discussion about how military women are routinely harassed, abused, and raped by their fellow (male) soldiers. And conservative women went apeshit: didn’t want to hear it, were appalled by the insult to Our Brave Men In Uniform, etc., etc. And these were women who had joined TNA because they were concerned about sexism! But the cultural divide is enormous. (Similar difficulties came up with religion and politics, as you can imagine.)

  136. lambert strether says:

    Violet @134 Re: Corn Mother. Surely “A Myth of One’s Own” is possible?

  137. Violet says:

    Octogalore says:

    Despite all our good intentions, how would the principled feminism that this blog espouses remain dominant in such a movement, when it isn’t in today’s feminist movement?

    This is a real concern. And even though my own inclinations are that a new party needs to have a progressive economic and social platform, I have zero tolerance for getting subsumed into the male-driven woman-hating leftism/faux-feminism that we all know and love.

    My sense is that the answer to this is the same as the answer to escaping the existing left-right divide, escaping the existing male-designed-and-dominated infrastructure, and escaping the connotations already associated with “left” in this country. And that’s to start something new. Something independent, something that is clearly its own thing and its own platform.

    One way to do this would be to take a leaf from Adrienne’s brilliant comment @133, and instead of trying to take over the Democrats, try to take over everybody. Put moles in both parties. (I’m not sure I would use NOW for that, despite my affiliation and affection for the organization. NOW has chapters and a structure, but it also has baggage.)

    On the other hand, that could be pointless if we include economic/social values, since the Republicans aren’t going there. And besides, the GOP itself is undergoing its own earthquakes and will probably be taken over by the Tea Partiers.

  138. lambert strether says:

    Violet @137 Putting moles in both parties doth not a party make. Is a party a requirement to achieve your objectives? Are parties by definition part of the male-designed infrastructure and hence to be “escaped”? Can there be a platform without a party? And so forth.

  139. Violet says:

    Is a party a requirement to achieve your objectives?

    I don’t know. That’s part of what we’re talking through here. This is kind of open-table strategy talk.

    Are parties by definition part of the male-designed infrastructure and hence to be “escaped”?

    Not in my opinion.

    Can there be a platform without a party?

    Yeah, I think so. There can be parties that don’t run candidates. There can be advocacy groups, obviously. All of which is thrillingly effective, as we see.

    There are a lot of interesting currents. Some people are saying we need to de-emphasize the female stuff, just be another progressive party. To which I would say, we already have a theoretically liberal/progressive party. And we see how that works. We already have a Progressive Caucus, and we see how that works. Women are nowhere. Absolutely nowhere.

    For that matter, economic populists and social progressives are also nowhere.

  140. sharon says:

    Ugh so many thoughts, good ones, and so little time! Majority party meme works – it takes us out of special interest subgroup land and plants us squarely as a power to be reckoned with. Not sure you actually need a party, though it sure seems to be working for Tea Partiers, who are successfully waging a revolution, or maybe a coup is better, against Republicans. I want to study them more closely, and have worked with them on a couple of things, because what they are saying is just being Republican as a candidate doesn’t get it done for them. You have to go a lot further, and they have now proven themselves capable of toppling candidates within the Republican party if they’re RINOs. Now, aren’t we on the same landscape? Didn’t being a Democrat = liberal = progressive = for women? And didn’t we learn that it ain’t so? Tea Partiers are also attracting people who aren’t just conservative – see, it’s that tent-widening thing again. If all we did was form a faction that split off from liberal Democrats and pretty much held the party hostage until our demands were heard, including toppling Democratic candidates that don’t cater to us, well, that would be something quite formidable, which is Violet’s women leftist +other leftists formula. But it could also mean that the Majority Party could back conservative, or independent, or green party candidates OVER a Democrat or liberal, as long as said candidate was ALL about making sure women’s health, women’s rights were at the top of their to-do list. I kind of am liking the hijack-from-within idea. Let me mull on it some more….

  141. HeroesGetMade says:

    This is a great discussion; many thanks to Violet for providing a place to have it.

    I like the Majority Party or maybe even the Majority Representation Party because that leaves room to grow it to form coalitions with other majorities. I remember around 2000 Nader talking about how the majority views in this country are not represented at all, and how true that is. Most people are women, and the biggest dem consituency is women, and yet they are dead last when not invisible and completely taken for granted. Most people also want living wage employment, national health care (/= insurance!), clean air/water, alternative renewable energy, safe food, a good education system, and personal bodily autonomy. There’s hardly anyone who is against those things, yet it’s rare that any of our so-called representatives advance those issues. All of those things tie in with women especially since they are the ones primarily responsible for the care and feeding of everyone else, and tend to take the long view beyond the next generation.

    I hear what Violet’s saying about appropriating indigenous culture to advance women, but at the same time, they are about the only local culture that has a history of valuing the feminine half of existence along with the masculine – in the southwest pueblos you see symbols of Mother Earth/Father Sky everywhere. I can remember meeting a pueblo medicine woman one time and was very impressed at the view that the earth is our mother, the source of all life; I was also ashamed to learn that whites are sometimes viewed as a bunch of motherf*ckers for the way that we treat the land and women. What with the booming rape culture we’ve got going, the truth of that view is hardly arguable. Still though, I think we can take lessons from indigenous cultures without co-opting.

    I don’t know what the best strategy is going forward, but I don’t know that there has to be just one. I tend to think something as big and game-changing as getting women full representation is way bigger than what any single party can contain. A movement like that will take a long time to accomplish landmark goals, and the work to be done goes beyond what I think political parties can accomplish. Personally, I like the idea of inside/outside, fusion and kitchen sink – literally, try everything and have people work the method that suits them best. The Majority Representation movement could have common goals, but have those goals worked on multiple fronts and different venues. The overriding goal would be to get women represented everywhere, not just in the political system. Was it John Stuart Mills who said that there was no human endeavor that could not be improved by women becoming a part of it? If so, I think he was right.

    As much as I like the idea of reforming the Counterfeit Left into the True Left with women leading the way, I think that’s a train that never comes. We’ve already seen that one play out more than once – men will always want to lead, and we already know what happens then – same old shit, different decade. Too many of the supposed left confuse being liberal of thought with being a libertine; it’s beyond tiresome. Even though it’s hard, I think the payoff in making common cause with so-called conservative women is much greater. We could re-cast choice feminism as being about the basic audacious right to bodily integrity for women, starting way before any of us ever become pregnant – the rape culture’s got to go. It seems like most of us here are anti-pornstitution and so are most of the pro-life women. If there’s one thing that would shake up Dude Nation, it’s the eradication of the rape culture that serves as a terroristic mechanism to keep us all in line. Basically, the level of pearl-clutching amongst Dude Nation induced by this new movement is very good gauge as to whether we’re on the right path.

  142. Adrienne in CA says:

    BTW, I’d thought at one time that The New Agenda could be the vehicle I had in mind @133. Earlier this year it seemed like they might be heading in that direction with talk of chapter expansion… but nothing seems to have come of it. They (I guess really she) still has the occasional quotable column, but seems fairly directionless lately.

    But it could be any group or a brand new one. All you’d need is a starting operations stake and a cohesive set of principles and a web presence for effective marketing to grow your membership list.

    Heck, a nice writer lady somewhere in the woods of Virginia could kick it off.


  143. Jeff says:

    Where to start. How about this?

    Monthly gerrymandering aside, you have 435 moderately cohesive cultural snapshots that have the best chance of consensus than any other grouping of U.S citizens, centuries in the making and ready to go.

    Article I, Section 3. “The number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand…” That number has always intrigued me. These particular authors don’t strike me as the type to pull numbers out of thin air. Did they have an insight into human nature or was 30K the largest they could conceive of given the tech and distance of the time? They were elsewhere decidedly planning for the very long term, so I would lean to the former.

    Thirty thousand opinions, traditions, styles, experiences. They survived school board meetings together, city council meetings together, weather tragedies together. Scandals, pay-offs, Amber Alerts…Traffic!. And do I even have to mention Local Sports Teams?

    The point is, that particular number is the maximum grouping of people that could call one another “neighbor” with any credibility AND still have enough horsepower to effect change. Or resist it. Can happen; WILL happen. It just doesn’t matter, because 15, 300 of those neighbors are Women focused on Women’s goals.

    Then you work up AND down. Every single local government move, from county road bid requests to school lunch menus goes online or posted in high traffic areas for a week (?) and voted on for “IS THIS GOOD FOR WOMEN, OR IS IT BAD FOR WOMEN?” Thumbs up, thumbs down. No maybes or what-ifs. Look your Neighbor in the eye and take a stand.

    Now for the top. Apply the same scrutiny to that district’s Representative, and to that district’s alone. Massive spending votes to what they charged you for their lunch. If you believe that passing on McD to eat at the Ritz impacts you negatively AS A WOMAN, Thumb it down and don’t waver. Fast, resolute and relentless.

    Then tally it live on TV.

  144. Kookaburra says:

    re: names – this popped into my head in the shower, maybe it’s good, maybe it’s crap:

    “The Silenced Majority”

  145. Jeff says:

    Sorry, I took a few shortcuts there. The changes in apportionment in 1926, 1951, along with other years before and after, paint a much more complicated picture that has brought us to the roughly 1:700K ratio we have now. The point is, I believe there are natural fault lines that can have more, maybe MUCH more, influence than full national parties.

  146. angie says:

    Kookaburra — “The Silenced Majority” — I like it!

  147. lambert strether says:

    On appropriating indigenous culture: I’d say that would be problem free if a near-unanimity of indigenous people’s said it would be OK to do. That’s probably not going to happen. Again, surely invention is better thann appropriation in every way?

    * * *

    On “the Majority Party”: I think the Mensheviks* went down that road; focus won out, eh? As far as “The Silenced Majority,” fine for a temporary slogan, but when you’ve found your voice, does the name change?

    NOTE Cue “But what about the Mensheviks” jokes…

  148. yttik says:

    I believe something has already been set into motion, like a tidal wave that you can’t hold back. When Hillary was pushed out it wasn’t just grief because we were being deprived of the best person for the job, it was also grief over the fact that Obama would probably send two thirds of this country running over to the Republican side in desperation. To start a third party or a movement is kind of like trying to repair all that damage after the fact, to close the barn door after the cows have escaped, to give people an alternative place to go besides flying into the arms of Republicans. It’s a noble idea, but it’s kind of like liberal women scrambling to clean up after the boys and to rescue and salvage what we can of some leftist and feminist ideals. But you can’t, there is bad karma coming down the road, a cause and effect set in motion by their actions. Their actions, not ours.

    This country really is going to turn Right, like a tidal wave, unless by some miracle Obummer manages to deliver some economic stability and some pride in self and country. And some respect for women. I don’t believe there is anything we can do about it because it’s not in our hands anymore.

  149. Violet says:

    What am I doing awake? I was up all night reading U.S. and women’s history.

    Lambert, the Mensheviks’ crucial error was in calling themselves the minority party. If only they’d had the sense to call themselves the Bolsheviks, everything would have turned out completely different.

    I appreciate the thought behind the Silenced Majority, but I think it is too redolent of Nixon’s “silent majority.”

  150. Violet says:

    Actually, yttik, I think disarray is the best time to rebuild. The only time, really, since when people are winning they’re not going to stop what seems to be working.

    I do expect a backlash as well, and expect the next president to be Republican (if not in 2012, then in 2016). And for a variety of reasons.

    And that coming disaster is exactly why the left will be completely unmoored and vulnerable.

  151. octogalore says:

    Aspen: “Can someone articulate what the NWP could have for women on the Right that the Republicans don’t already offer? “Left” policies that help women usually have some component of government invention involved, and the Right pretty much opposes any kind of help for anyone by the govt, other than tax cuts.”

    Violet: “conservative women have marinated in a culture that makes it very difficult to even discuss shared issues. Rape and sexual assault, for example.”

    The thing to keep in mind here is that “conservative” can mean many things. It can mean someone all the way to the right in all respects. Or, someone like this may seem conservative to a leftist. It’s likely that a woman who’d be attracted to the ideas we are discussing would have some congruence with them, from the social perspective, from the economic justice perspective (possibly utilizing different approaches than collectivist ones, and no, not just tax cuts), from the perspective of fighting to ensure women at all levels are treated equally in employment and domestic situations. These are not goals that either party actively supports.

  152. anna says:

    What am I doing awake? I was up all night reading U.S. and women’s history.

    Got any recommended reading? I’m looking for a one-book history of American women.

  153. AniEm says:


    In light of the discussion, you may be interested in reading the above very powerful article posted on American Thinker, a conservative blog, by Robin of Berkeley, who is a former Democrat.
    I think the article identifies a lot of common ground between women of varying ideologies.

  154. lambert strether says:

    Violet: I am corrected!

    Still good for a joke, though….

  155. m Andrea says:

    Very excited to see strategy being discussed in regards to MRA’s coopting any gender neutral language for their own purposes. They do it every time, so act like it and insert some real defence into the strategy.

    You start out with that premise, you cannot lose.

    Right now I cannot tolerate the female 0bots who are still dogmatically defending his absolute right (in their eyes) to be a sexist pig. Normally this would cause cognitive dissonance — but the world is now upside down.

    The only thing that works for me is to push that cognitive dissonance so far down their throat that they puke it right back up. Don’t want to instigate a policy on a message board which bans racism and sexism? Great, the StormTroopers need to know that they are welcome there. Bring it on, and let’s see how much “free speech” they can stand.

  156. m Andrea says:

    I’m referring to a place which is very sensitive to racism, sexism not so much. It’s white Liberal Dude Nation and they think sexism is hilarious.

  157. Kookaburra says:

    “The Silenced Majority,” fine for a temporary slogan, but when you’ve found your voice, does the name change?

    That’s what I was thinking, actually – temporary slogan. This discussion is flexing my long-disused marketing neurons, and stuff keeps popping into my head for slogans and ways to sell the idea to the 20-35 year olds. If the hopey-changey movement managed to sweep them all away, it just means that they are susceptible, and anyone could do the same.

    Violet – the people I was thinking of targeting with that slogan have no idea (or don’t care, because they weren’t alive then) that it’s from Nixon. But I get your point.

    The reason so many 20-somethings fell head over heels for the O-craze was that he made politics cool. (I am a 20-something and I saw it happen enough with my own previously a-political friends.) I know many people feel that they have been won by Obama, and now can’t be wooed back, but as long as we offer something that’s more cool they’ll flock to it.

  158. stateofdisbelief says:

    Well, taking the “Majority Party” and the “Silenced Majority” one step further, how about playing off of Hillary’s favorite way to describe us “The Invisible Majority?”

    Jest thinking out loud.

  159. Mec says:

    @aspen: on a local level, I think crime is an enormous issue. Street crime affects women more than men and people will cross party lines in all directions to support someone who actually reduces crime. It’s also an area where people on the right approve of government action so now you’re just down to a question of what actually works.

    Also, if someone just demonstrates decency in public discourse I think that will earn attention, respect, and maybe some votes: “the party that doesn’t call our opponents bitches, traitors, or Nazis.”

    Beyond that, not much common ground, though.

    (I’m a libertarian, which gives me a good perspective on “how your new party would appeal to people on the right”, but not much to say otherwise.)

  160. hipparchia says:

    Is a party a requirement to achieve your objectives?

    i like the idea of nwp [and i would come down on the side of leftist women + other women], overall i think i’d rather see more candidates run as independents [as in no party affiliation].

  161. hipparchia says:

    argh. preview is your friend. that should be: although i like the idea…

  162. Aspen says:

    If NWP = women not currently served on the left-right continuum, cool.

    If NWP = leftist women + other leftists = third wave “feminism”/sexxxy feminism, then no thanks.

    If NWP = women like the one in the article in post #153, then no thanks. That article was a totally non-feminist hack-job against the left. The author even has the deplorable gall to say rape is a tactic particular to the left (as opposed to patriarchy overall). The author seems to not be comfortable admitting the inevitable conclusion. There isn’t a “side” that contains the glorious savior men she wants to believe exist.

  163. yttik says:

    I read the American Thinker article by Robin of Berkeley. Unfortunately I think she makes some valid points. For at least the past few years most of the violent misogynistic language has been coming from the Left. I completely understand why she would run to the Right seeking sanctuary.

    Of course rape is a tactic of the patriarchy as a whole, but like it or not, it is the left that has recently been reveling in it and gleefully expressing their venom towards women.

  164. Violet says:

    The American Thinker article is absurd. Having discovered that the left is sexist, she concludes that the right is not? Self-delusion or deliberate propaganda, one or the other. I think it’s the latter. Nobody who is a “former” Democrat and feminist could be that stupid.

  165. Violet says:

    For at least the past few years most of the violent misogynistic language has been coming from the Left.

    Rush Limbaugh? Ring a bell? Glenn Beck? Michael Savage? Ann Coulter? Ring a bell? Even the bow-tied brigade, like George Will and Tucker Carlson? David Brooks?

    I’ve spent my adult life, including the past few years, being insulted by these creeps in the most grotesque terms. It’s beyond me how any self-aware woman can forget that.

  166. Kookaburra says:

    Hell, the editor of the National Review said this year that he would take the vote away from women if he could.

    I know for myself, I have to consciously NOT tune out the right-wing hatred. While going to school, I’m living with my mom and step-dad, and Fox is on all the time. It just becomes background noise after awhile. Hate from the Left is unexpected, so I notice it more, even though it’s just as common.

    Hatred of women is everywhere.

  167. Blog decoration and open thread | Reclusive Leftist says:

    [...] any rate, we’re still plotting political rebellion in this thread, so please feel free to contribute. I imagine it will take us awhile to work through our plan for [...]

  168. Nessum says:

    Also, if someone just demonstrates decency in public discourse I think that will earn attention, respect, and […] votes.

    I absolutely agree with this. I for one am fed up with the dismissive, degrading, demeaning tone in political discourse which only seems to succeed in muddying the message.

  169. Northwest rain says:

    Of course the GOP — or the right/conservatives are sexist pigs — Henry Hyde as in the damned Hyde amendment. Then way back when states were voting on the ERA — in NY state — upstate NY — the GOP was actively campaigning against the ERA and thanks to the sexist pigs GOP — NY voted NO on the ERA.

    HOWEVER — I view that article as great news — because the patriarchy might be waking up.I we women (and the men who love us) flee the Dem and the leftist sexist pigs — the GOP is hoping that they will be the alternative and that we women will have short memories.

    Forget it fellas — this woman and many others like me remember our history and the fact that the GOP removed support for the ERA from their platform.

    This tells me that we need to move away from both parties and let them court us. If you guys aren’t sexists pigs — then PROVE IT!

    As far as I’m concerned both parties are raving lunatics in the hatred of women. WE get the message boys — we hear you.


  170. AniEm says:

    What I thought was good about the American Thinker article is it exposes the hypocrisy of men on the left who claimed to be the ‘good guys’. There is no question that the right has always been anti-feminist. Yet, I think some may be waking up, unfortunately, due to the on-going abuse of Sarah Palin.

  171. Violet says:

    Now Sen. Landrieu is the target:


    Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are calling her a prostitute — that’s the right-wing, I do believe — and Time has joined in (there’s the center-right) by photoshopping her with sperm in her hair.

  172. Branjor says:

    How about the Women’s Majority Party?

  173. octogalore says:

    I think there is sexism from the left and the right in probably equal measure. It has been more masked on the left out of PC-ness more than a higher ethical standard, and then this year it all came out in droves against HRC and then Palin, so it seemed more striking and hypocritical — et tu, Brutus? But there’s really no escape from it.

  174. Violet says:

    This is sort of off-topic, but Michelle Goldberg is still an idiot:


    I decided to mention it here because it’s indicative of a problem we need to be aware of, and that’s that many young women are extremely hostile to other women. Certainly most young female would-be pundits, like Goldberg, are totally lacking in any feminist awareness. Goldberg, you recall, was obsessing over Obama last year as the greatest figure in world history in a millennium (I’m not kidding). Hillary, on the other hand, was a lying bitch, while Geraldine Ferraro was an Archie Bunker in heels (for making the same observation that Obama himself and countless others had made).

    These women have been trained to despise, distrust, and destroy other women. So don’t imagine that a Women’s Party or anything explicitly feminist would be greeted as a positive.

  175. octogalore says:

    I just noticed Teresainpa’s #122 which I love. Absolutely, the problem with “leftist women and other leftists” is that the latter would start jamming in ice caps and other worthwhile but dubiously-connected-to-women issues until ultimately, the NWP would become the Daily Kos. Um, exit stage left.

  176. Violet says:

    worthwhile but dubiously-connected-to-women issues

    Your underlying assumption is that this is primarily about women. But women aren’t the only constituency, as I pointed out in the post. It’s an open question whether this should be something primarily about women, or whether it would be a coalition between feminists and economic populists and other progressives.

    As a feminist, progressive, economic populist, civil liberty advocate, and environmentalist, I am underserved in every respect by the existing Democrats. They’re batting 0.

  177. Violet says:

    Octogalore, you’re actually in much better shape in terms of being served politically, since everybody from the Blue Dogs to the Republicans to the Libertarians is anti-government, anti-tax, anti-healthcare reform, etc., etc.

  178. octogalore says:

    RE #176: you’re right, it’s still an open question. I’m not sure why male Democrats who espouse leftist causes would be less likely to backburner women’s issues than male Democrats, the female Democrats who love them, or male non-Democrats generally, though. So I’m not sure why using “leftist” as the general theme, with feminism a hopeful part of the mix, would leave women anywhere other than five steps behind, as per the status quo.

    RE #77: Disagree. I’m absolutely not served politically by the current administration nor the Republicans. I’m not anti-healthcare reform, and I’m pro subsidizing coverage for those who cannot afford it, just anti the bill currently on the table and anti a government option way of doing it. I am not pro spending the way Bush did it or the way Obama’s doing it. I’m pro progressive taxes, but not to the extent espoused by the present administration. I’m anti many Republican social policies and the crony capitalism of both parties. So, not sure how well served I am.

  179. Violet says:

    But we’re not talking about simply re-creating the existing leftist structure. If we want an ineffectual progressive block that marginalizes women’s issues, hey, we’re in luck. ‘Cause we already got that.

    Anything we do would have to make women’s rights a priority, hence my C1. That’s a given.

    But I don’t see why we have to be limited to women’s issues. I don’t see how limiting ourselves to women’s issues makes us more powerful; the vision of right/center/left women joining together is appealing, but I’m still skeptical. I wouldn’t bank on it, basically.

    On the other hand, I can see picking up support from other unserved constituencies if we’re also advocating for issues they care about, such as single-payer (which would also benefit women).

  180. Branjor says:

    ***These women have been trained to despise, distrust, and destroy other women. So don’t imagine that a Women’s Party or anything explicitly feminist would be greeted as a positive.***

    If we’re going to prioritize women’s issues, I don’t expect the new party to be greeted as a positive no matter WHAT it’s name is. I think that women have been so marginalized that it is necessary (and desirable) to highlight us in the name of the party.

    ***I’m not sure why male Democrats who espouse leftist causes would be less likely to backburner women’s issues than male Democrats, the female Democrats who love them, or male non-Democrats generally, though.***

    They wouldn’t. And that’s exactly the problem, exactly what happened in the last election season.

    ***But I don’t see why we have to be limited to women’s issues. I don’t see how limiting ourselves to women’s issues makes us more powerful***

    What are women’s issues? The economy, the environment, healthcare, jobs, a sustainable lifestyle, world events and international relations are all important for women, as are choice, equal pay, porn, prostitution, rape culture, etc. There’s no reason why a women’s party would be limited only to the latter.

    ***the vision of right/center/left women joining together is appealing, but I’m still skeptical. I wouldn’t bank on it, basically.***

    No women, right, center or left, that wouldn’t want to join would be forced to. Actually it is the only thing that hasn’t been tried yet, women joining with other women as though it were WOMEN, not their godd*mned place on the male political spectrum, which is the important thing. It might even make an impression on some of the woman-hating women to actually see, in their lifetime, women acting as though it were important to power bond with other women over the political spectrum.

  181. Kali says:

    The more I read this thread, the more I am leaning against the party option, and towards the idea that Adrienne outlined @ 133.

    If we go with the party idea and have a platform of “left feminists + other leftists” then we are in danger of creating another democratic party that shortchanges women, regardless of its stated platform. If we go with the “left feminists + other women” party, then the rampant misogyny is not going to let this party get any power or influence. Adrienne’s idea on the other hand helps us move towards the 30% (or preferably 50%) solution. We don’t have to hold any female politician (left, right, or center) to impossible standards of perfection in order to support them (or limit ourselves to democratic women, or left-leaning women). They just have to be not significantly worse their male opponents on policy issues. We could act through NOW, TNA or some other existing organisation. Martha Burk comes to my mind. Or we could form a new organisation.

  182. scott says:

    The unifying force might be that we’ve all been forgotten and/or despised by the powers that be: women, the working class, or anyone who thinks that political and econoomic power should be exercised for the benefit of all rather than the chosen few. His commitment to the slogan might be doubted, but even a Dem mainstream warhorse like Gore gestured in that direction with his 2000 slogan about being for the people against the powerful. Maybe we could construct a political argument that, at least for the last 30 years, the people in charge of this country have screwed the rest of us and that we’re tired of it. Tired of lame, corrosive misogyny, tired of a hollowed out economy, tired of a government that only seems motivated to take care of people who already have money and power. And that we demand a government (and a media establishment) that recognizes those concerns and doesn’t try to divide and conquer us by stigmatizing us alternately as redneck racists, commies, scary feminazis, or threatening black/brown/yellow/red people. When we’re actually just demanding a fair share of the country that we all live in and work for and decent, fair treatment like you’d give to any human being. Because we’re not monsters, morons, objects, or “The Other,” we’re people and demand to be treated that way. I’d love a party or movement that made that argument. Maybe it wouldn’t work, but at least it would address a lot of unmet needs throughout our country and would be about real stuff, rather than, “Oh, look, scary Palin! Aieeeeeeee!”

  183. lambert strether says:

    @133 Adrienne Call me crazy [pause to allow this] but isn’t there an organization with a brand and a long-standing tradition already in existence? I’m referring (seriously) to The League of Women Voters, which could be transformed from a non-partisan to a trans-partisan organization. Possibly join en masse? With their former sponsoship of Presidential debates, before the parties took that away, there’s a natural news hook for alternatives to be presented.

    * * *

    On the various silenced-this, marginalized-that name proposals: I think the name should reflect the change sought, in a way that allows people to identify with it positively, rather than reflect (and even reinforce) existing negative realities. Women’s Christian Temperance Union did well, and but I doubt that “The Anti-Drunken Abusers League” would have, for all that it accurately reflects real abuse.

    * * *

    #157 Kookaburra: +1000, and I think that connects to #180.

    * * *

    FWIW, I still insist that “putting women first” benefits all. I wouldn’t worry so much about coalitions for now. The coalitions will, I’m convinced, fall out naturally when policies under that banner are thought through.

  184. octogalore says:

    Agree with Branjor and Kali. If the group revolves around leftists, even with the C1 criterion, it gets back to the existing problem of being held hostage by certain issues, a la Stupak. Simply stating that one is women-centered is good, but how would that be distinguished from third wave “Daily Kos kitchen sink” feminism, which also claims to center women? What leverage would the group have?

    Let’s say the platform includes (A) progressive issue that male and female progressives like; (B) same as (A) and (C) issue that affects women much more than men, such as choice or Ledbetter act or media sexism, then a leftists/plus women movement. Again, despite all best intentions, if the membership grew to be dominated by the third wave feminists who sat by while Hillary and Palin were labeled the “c” word and the men who did the labeling (and how would we prevent that, exactly), I have a sneaking suspicion that (C) would quickly get ignored. And then any of us who complained about it would be told to sit back down because of how important (A) and (B) are.

  185. Violet says:

    The League of Women Voters does advocate for certain policies, but only after careful analysis. It’s a healthy organization with a pretty strong culture, as far as I know, and very active local chapters. The project of infiltrating and taking it over would be extensive, and yet this would only be a proxy for our real goal of infiltrating the Democrats?

  186. Violet says:

    Octogalore, I don’t think it’s this either-or thing. It sounds like you’re saying that if I start a party that advocates women’s rights and single payer and environmentalism, then automatically this party will be taken over by men and will become anti-woman. (Really? No way to deal with that by means of party structure or platform? No way at all?) Whereas if I start a party that just advocates women’s rights, then somehow we’ll have lots of power to shape the political landscape. (How???)

  187. Violet says:

    The pumpkin pie turned out well. I know you were all waiting for that.

    Okay, let me give an example of what I’m getting at (with C1), using environmentalism instead of feminism.

    Is environmentalism a core, founding value of the Democratic Party? No. I think the founding values of the Democratic Party had to do with strict construction of the Constitution, states rights, opposing the national bank — whatever the hell Jefferson was worried about in 1800. To the modern Democratic Party, environmentalism is just one of many issues on its laundry list of things it’s supposed to be vaguely in favor of as the left-leaning party. It’s not exactly woven into the DNA. Does this mean Democrats will sell out environmentalism if necessary? Of course. They do it all the time. Most of them don’t even give a shit about any of that stuff anyway.

    Now, consider the Green Party. How easy do you think it would be to remove environmentalism from the Green Party’s platform? How easy do you think it would be to reduce environmentalism to just something the Greens throw in when it suits them? I think it would be pretty damn hard. The whole party sprang out of the ecology movement and the no-nukes thing. It’s a core, defining value. That’s not to say that things won’t change: a hundred years from now, the Greens may be no more concerned about the environment than modern Democrats are concerned about the national bank. But for a good long while, I expect Greens to be a green party.

    That’s the difference between having something as a core value, and having it just tacked on in a haphazard way as one issue on a long, long list of issues.

  188. Branjor says:

    ***The whole party sprang out of the ecology movement and the no-nukes thing. It’s a core, defining value.***

    Yes, and it’s highlighted in the party’s name – the GREEN Party. That fact alone makes it much more difficult for environmentalism to be backburnered in the Green Party.That’s why I think if women’s rights are to be the core value of our new party that women should also be highlighted in its name.

  189. octogalore says:

    You make a good point. It’s true, it’s not per se impossible, it’s just something that would need to be thought out — how to encode the focus into the DNA and also on an ongoing basis.

    I just think women fall into a special category because of our (with the exception of many here) willingness to deprioritize our own concerns. Environmentalists, per your above example, don’t do this as much — maybe b/c their issue affects men as well so it’s a “serious issue.” Women are much more prey to “but, Sean Bell IS a feminist issue” and are much more likely to be guilted.

    So what you are saying makes perfect sense and should work, and maybe I’m being too negative here, but after 2008 and seeing some of my feminist, woman-centered friends turn against Hillary for reasons that let’s just say weren’t woman-centered… I’m still a skeptic.

    Could a woman-centered, bipartisan movement affect policy? There again, it would depend on the willingness of women to ally as women. I don’t see this one as foolproof either. But I see it as less likely to deprioritize women.

  190. lambert strether says:

    Violet @185:

    The project of infiltrating and taking [the LWV] over would be extensive, and yet this would only be a proxy for our real goal of infiltrating the Democrats?

    I’m not sure that is the real goal. Adrienne @133 writes:

    Create or co-opt a [1] women’s rights organization and systematically infiltrate [2] one or more of the existing political parties to change them from within.

    Might as well put the LWV on the list for [1], even if it is out-of-box thinking and/or wrong, and [2] Adrienne says one or both, not just the Ds.

  191. Sameol says:

    octogalore, I completely share your concerns, but one thing we can try is to just be ready to come at everything with a relentlessly female-centric focus. When “Sean Bell has a mother, you know,” gets pulled out of a hat, we can counter with, “Most people have heard of Sean Bell. But how many people are aware of the extent of police brutality against women? Let’s discuss the issue in these terms. Let’s listen to their stories.” It might open some eyes to the fact that yes, just about everything really is a woman’s issue, but not in the usual sense of telling us to shut up and join the ladies’ auxiliary.

  192. Adrienne in CA says:

    The League of Women Voters does wonderful work, particularly in voter education. But except for the “women” in their name, I’m not sure they’re primarily a women’s organization. That is, they don’t focus their efforts exclusively around issues that impact and benefit women. They don’t even endorse candidates and are doing nothing that I know of to get women elected.

    Kali @ 181: YES, the 30% solution is what I have in mind, driven by an organization whose only concern is promoting respect for women (the same kind of respect now paid lip-service at least for race), support for women’s equality, and especially electing women.

    This women’s organization (let’s just call it WO for now) would first build chapters within a region, preferably nationwide and recruit members. Something as simple as the 30% Solution could be The Cause (maybe the ERA would be the longer term goal). WO headquarters would develop identity marketing materials and train-the-trainer guides about the 30% Solution — how bad the existing situation really is, how low the US ranks compared to other countries, what getting to 30% would do because women can work in concert and have enough influence and votes to have real power. Also from WO HQ would come a focus-tested messaging strategy around the intolerable unfairness of the status quo. Here’s where we make clear the magnitude of the injustice by talking about 50% and how far we are from it. We are half the citizens and we are without proportional representation?! No guilt tripping, no old baggage, and also no acceptance of excuses and no backing down and settling for less. This is wrong and it must change. The right words will convince even the most curmudgeonly observer — we just have to craft them and say them in unison. Lastly, the central hub would outline an implementation (infiltration) strategy that would serve as the call to action to the regional spokes.

    Implementation would entail growing member numbers in local and state party volunteer ranks. Leveraging the credibility gained to elect their members to party positions where they can expand their network contacts, then run for office themselves or to help other women run. All along the way, they are wearing their women-focused insignias, talking about women, advocating for women — in caucuses, on platform committees, making the case for proportional seats in party leadership. Also working the system from the outside by mobilizing our own WO “tea party” protests, letter-writing, legislator accountability visits, sit ins – whatever tactic local chapters can support and fits the dynamics of their region. This could be happening across all political parties, but I’d point out that there are only two parties that have success at getting their members in office. In places where the Greens have strength, fine. Some open seats might be ripe for an independent WO candidate. We don’t have to shoot for the moon. Get our half on the school boards and city councils and build up from there.

    Note that Democracy For America did this with their national website, monthly meeting guides including powerpoint presentations and other prepared learning materials that chapter leaders could download and deliver, and with quarterly leader phone conferences to keep everyone in sync. It wasn’t only top-down. The DFA blog was a clearing house for ideas to be played with and solutions to be shared, and good ideas got picked up and formalized by national headquarters, then disseminated back down to everyone. Annual conventions with speakers and training sessions and entertainment kept the movement alive and the most active and influential members in contact.

    The new WO movement could have all that and better.


  193. Adrienne in CA says:

    Just thinking, maybe ERA is a WO central focus in states that are likely candidates for ratification.


  194. Nessum says:

    Even though this is in another league –women in high offices, and a global outreach– I find it inspiring to explore the homepage of The Council of Women World Leaders.

    And I agree with what Adrienne just said!

  195. lambert strether says:

    #193 @Adrienne +1000 The ERA is a very concrete goal. And can be advocated for (made into a litmus test) at every level from the school board on up. FWIW my sense is that the 30% solution is a metric, rather than an objective? I’m expressing this in a tangled way, but what I mean is that (a) it’s open to easy diversionary attacks and (b) the benefits come at one remove (“Banking will be less testosterone driven and less prone to risk if 30% of the CEOs are women” (which I believe)). Yes, “equal representation,” but “30%” is, again, the metric even for that objective (I mean, why 30 and not 33 or 42 or 50?)

    * * *

    I see all the objections to LWV — including, oddly, the fact that that they don’t advocate for women’s causes despite being, er, “Women Voters” — it’s just frustrating that here’s this WO, whose organizational structure is congruent to that which Adrienne describes, with a fine brand and a proud history, and a name that couldn’t be more exact for the purpose (especially if a WO and not a WP is the goal) and somehow a new, parallel WO needs to be built from scratch. Is the idea that only sick, and not healthy, organizations can be looked at? OTOH, most organizations don’t take kindly to being “infiltrated”…. Dunno, just throwing it out there. Re the Dean movement: Yes, one such can be started from scratch, if funded (….), but was the Dean organization built to last? It seemed to me very much a “dogs bark, and the caravan moves on” thing. Surely the WO needs to be built for beyond the lifetimes of at least some of us? (Musing out load, a “hub and spoke” model is less attractive to me than a rhizomic growth, leaderless resistance model. I hasten to add that I’m really not an organizer, so defer in advance to those who are…)

  196. octogalore says:

    Sameol — thanks. It may be the controversy with which those same points were met here and other places by feminists that has provoked this skepticism.

  197. Sameol says:

    I understand the controversy, but I think it’s really useful to create an alternative narrative for women who have a desire to put feminist issues first in feminism (or even first in politics) but, like you mentioned, feel all kinds of pressure from all sides to apologize for being so selfish and to prioritize absolutely everything else above. It’s a lot easier to withstand that kind of pressure when you’ve got support that basically gives you permission to prioritize.

  198. Violet says:

    Is Sean Bell a gay issue? (I’m gonna say no on that. But then I don’t think it’s a feminist issue either.)

    Reading through that old thread at your place was painful, Octogalore. People like Latoya Peterson are so heavily invested in that propagandist view of feminism that it’s probably impossible to even get them to realize that it is, in fact, propaganda. The notion that white feminists and black feminists have nothing to talk about is one created by sexist black men who were doing everything in their power to discredit feminism and threaten black women with charges of “race traitor.” Every time I read Peterson, I think of all the black women’s voices she is simply erasing. Just erasing them. Eldridge Cleaver would be fucking thrilled. He won!

  199. octogalore says:

    Sorry about inflicting that frustration.

    Peterson is a friend, so her engagement there was actually more openminded than many others (eg, on Feministe, where I commented on the thread proclaiming SB a feminist issue and got my head handed to me by mostly white feminists). But that’s the source of my question: if feminist issues are one category among many to be prioritized, will they be prioritized at all? I agree it’s theoretically possible to employ a structure and leadership who will maintain that. I just wonder if the target audience is going to be different enough from the Feministe audience — which after all is “leftist women and other leftists” to maintain that.

    The seductiveness of appealing to leftist men, and the enhanced cultural oomph of other leftist issues, are very difficult to compete with. For example, my mom has always id’d as a staunch feminist. She brought me, when a child, out to wait for what seemed like hours on a cold NY day to get Geraldine Ferraro’s autograph back in the day. She notices things like why random animals one sees are always referred to as “he.” She knows more junior and less qualified men routinely get promoted over older, less culturally “hawt” women. And yet, she said she’d have voted for HRC over any other guy with what she perceived as similar politics, except a black guy.

  200. Violet says:

    The problem of prioritizing women’s issues is going to be with us regardless of what form of alignment we choose. If we go with a Women’s Party or with something like Adrienne’s suggestion, we’re still going to come up against massive resistance. From men AND women (all those women who would rather die than be thought a “vagina voter” — we internalize patriarchy well).

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  202. Adrienne in CA says:

    That’s actually one of the buttons I see us wearing.

    Vagina Voter

    Hell yes.


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  204. Less Isbetter says:

    A new political party would probably best be based on existing organizations that no one thinks to ask.

    Silly story but true. I worked for an old radiologist. He never discussed family with me. He came in one day and was over the moon with smiles and cheerfulness. I went to see him, hoping it would not be because he was drunker than hell.

    His wife had just been elected President of her sorority alumni association. He was so happy. He kept saying, “She won.”

    We went to lunch and he told me that his wife had been planning, maneuvering and politicking for this post for 25 years. He said, no more dinners for supporters, no more vacations spent at conventions, no more women over during the day smoking cigarettes and drinking the refrigerator dry. I was truly amazed that she had spent that long, but he could cite chapter and verse of when it started.

    In the women’s clubs, the gardening clubs, the sorority societies, you have high class candidates who KNOW HOW to campaign and are totally ruthless in getting forward in their groups.

    There is a huge base, if the choral societies of the churches can be persuaded to help things along. This is a very important base. If you have questions, there is book out there about a town in Nebraska or Iowa in World War II that organized around the choral societies in the area and determined to give ever soldier that went through a home cooked meal. They succeeded, as the younger women went into service, the older women took the lighter jobs and they kept reaching out further to other choral societies.
    I have no idea of how many were involved.

    Each woman has between 6 and 7 friends that she will discuss intimate matters with. Men have one or at most two. Take 6 and double it and double it and double it.

    This is doable based upon “first we win, then we fight over the spoils.”

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