Buss: This fall’s female factor
Some might think there’s nothing good about the Donald Trump era of politics. They might be wrong. The earthquake of his victory has spurred a kind of citizen activism not seen in decades.
In Michigan, for example, nearly 1,000 candidates are running for state or federal office this fall. That includes nine candidates for governor, the most in at least four election cycles.
And the wind seems to be at the sails of female candidates, who are particularly motivated to seek office. Emily’s List announced yesterday a historic recruitment effort for the state’s legislative seats. Over 130 women have filed to run in the August primary.
At the federal level, at least 575 women are running for office this year, the highest number ever. Nearly 60 percent more women have declared to run for the U.S. House and Senate this year compared to 2016. And they’re already having an impact.
Michigan Democrat Elissa Slotkin generated more money than Republican Rep. Mike Bishop for the third quarter in a row. His seat historically has been considered safe for Republicans. Gretchen Driskell, another Democrat, has been outraising Republican Rep. Tim Walberg, who’s served in Congress for a decade in a conservative haven in the southeast corner of the state.
This wave of activism is different than the one inspired by former President Barack Obama’s election, when conservatives came out in droves to oppose his health care law and his general philosophy of government expansion.
Candidates this cycle are largely concerned about the opposite: that government isn’t doing enough. A majority of the female candidates running are Democrats or progressives.
Whether angered by the president’s views or the focus on sexual harassment over the past year, these candidates have a real desire to change a culture that often seems unfair to women.
But that doesn’t mean I want them exclusively deciding what to do with my tax dollars or determining my rights.
As a woman you learn quickly that everything is a balancing act. And this exciting time in our political history is no different.
Of course it’s a good development that hundreds of thousands of new candidates will be running for office throughout the nation. The barriers of entry into the world of elected office should come down.
And as a woman, it’s exciting to see women striving for more in any realm.
U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth’s recent triumph in changing rules to allow her newborn daughter on the Senate floor with her to nurse is monumental. And her struggle to balance motherhood and work isn’t limited to party. It’s universal.
But the “resistance” that inspires so many to run for office could mean a reignited and more aggressive attempt at government expansion than we saw under Obama. And Trump’s efforts to roll back regulation and limit the scope of government have been a bright spot.
Empowering women and securing new privileges in the workplace is important. But the economy matters, too. And women are faring better under the Trump economy than they ever did under Obama.
There are moments that will be exciting, even vindicating, as women reach new levels of success this fall. But it’s candidates’ thoughts on governance, not their gender, that will earn them my vote.