Women in politics 2018

BY:Joelle Fishman| April 18, 2018
Women in politics 2018


White supremacy and male supremacy are at the core of the anti-worker policies of this administration and the Republican Congress.

Rejecting male supremacy and misogyny is very much on the agenda of the 2018 midterm elections. It is the driving force behind thousands of women across the country saying #MeToo and #TimesUp by training to become candidates. An unprecedented 500 women are running for the first time. Of these women most are Democrats and pro-choice, and many are progressives. A minority are women candidates running with the Republicans on their so-called pro-life agenda.

The aspect of this upsurge of women candidates that is most consequential and inspiring is the large number of working-class women including many union women, women of color and young women who are running for office from the local level on up.

To mention a couple of high profile races: In Los Angeles, Maria Elena Durazo national leader of Unite Here is running for state senate. In Danbury, Connecticut Julie Kushner, director of UAW Region 9A is running for state senate in a district long held by Republicans.

In Kentucky, Linda Belcher, a retired teacher and union supporter won election in February by a 68-32 margin, flipping a state legislative district that Trump carried by 72-23. This one of 38 districts that have flipped to Democrat since Trump was inaugurated. In last year’s elections many history making victories were won in districts where Black, Latino, transgender and women candidates were elected for the first time.

This year in Georgia, in the deep South, Stacey Abrams could become the first African American woman governor in the nation.

Many of the working-class women running for office have been low wage workers, public sector caregivers and advocates, single moms, some have been racially profiled. They explain how their life stories make them ready to fight for raising the minimum wage, pay equity, union rights, paid family and medical leave, stopping deportations and separation of families, criminal justice reform, and budget priorities that put food stamps and health care before the military.

Their voices shift the debate and open the door for more militant grass roots organizing. Their election is the strongest rejection of  policies that degrade and demonize women. Overwhelmingly women elected officials are on the leading edge of fighting for the whole working class.

As Communists we should be organizing in these election districts not only for this election but to build a constituency for the long term with a bigger vision of socialism. We also should nurture and encourage our comrades to be part of this wave of progressive women candidates.

Women, who are half the population, only make up about 20% of federal and statewide elected offices. This is a big increase from 40 years ago when women made up only 4% of Congress and 10% of statewide elected offices.  Right now the United States is shamefully 104th in the world for representation of women. And of the 106 women who serve in the U.S. Congress only one third are women of color.

At the Women’s March in Hartford, Connecticut in January, State Rep Robyn Porter, who comes out of the labor movement and is one of only four women of color in the legislature, agreed with the need for electing more progressive women. At the same time she emphasized from her experience that is not enough – to be representative the legislature needs many more progressive women of color who understand and fight for the interests of their communities. The response was spontaneous chants of “Black Lives Matter.”

The labor committee that Rep Porter chairs is celebrating International Women’s Day with a hearing on March 8 on the bills in the Women’s Agenda.

The outpouring of women candidates has been a unifying factor bringing together issues and movements in the fight against the Trump Republican haters and dividers. They are side by side with candidates like Randy Bryce, the union ironworker who is challenging anti-worker and anti-woman Paul Ryan.

The Koch Brothers, in their drive for unfettered capitalist exploitation, have announced that they are spending $400 million in this election cycle to defeat the 12 women in the US Senate running for re-election and other targeted Democrats. They are counting on utilizing male supremacy and white supremacy to win.

It took a huge movement and much courage over more than a century for women to win the right to vote 98 years ago. The wave of candidates challenging policies that would throw women and the country back for generations continue this fight.

Marching to the polls in 2018 does more than deliver us from creeping fascism.  It is a continuation of the long struggle for equality and justice that demands a society free from exploitation and oppression in order to flourish.

The takeaway from these remarks: It is a long struggle. The uprising of working-class women candidates in 2018 is reshaping politics.  It is an important part of the revolutionary process.

Image: Creative Commons 3.0




    Joelle Fishman chairs the Connecticut Communist Party USA. She is a Commissioner on the City of New Haven Peace Commission, serves on the executive board of the Alliance of Retired Americans in Connecticut and is an active member of many economic rights and social justice organizations. She was a candidate for Congress from 1973 to 1982, maintaining minor-party ballot status for the Communist Party in Connecticut's Third Congressional District. As chair of the CPUSA Political Action Commission, she has played an active role in the broad labor and people's alliance that defeated the ultra-right in the 2008 elections and continues to mobilize for health care, worker rights and peace.



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