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Cheryl Saban Ph.D.

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Choosing to Represent

Posted: 05/22/2012 8:54 pm

I attended a DCCC Women's Power Luncheon today with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi in celebration of her 25 years of service. Congresswomen Karen Bass and Jackie Speier were there to introduce all of us at the well-attended event to 9 strong women Congressional candidates from across the country. And after listening to each one of them speak about their individual campaigns, backgrounds, and reasons for taking on such challenges, I can report first-hand that all nine of these women are strong. They have drive, and they are committed. They have chosen to put themselves on the line, to be of service for you and me. It is a difficult, time-consuming job to be in public service, especially, I would say, for women, as they are very much in the minority. Yet all of these women are determined to do so.

Congresswoman Lois Capps (CA-24) and Congresswoman Betty Sutton (OH-16) are both already members of Congress who are currently engaged in campaigns. They're both slogging it out in difficult, but they say winnable campaigns so they can represent us.

The new candidates currently campaigning for seats are: Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-01), Julia Brownley (CA-26), Chief Val Demings (FL-10), Lois Frankel (FL-22), Gloria Romero Roses (FL-26), Pam Gulleson, (ND-AL) and Shelley Adler (NJ-03).

I encourage all Democrats to support them, even if these ladies don't happen to be in your city or state. The issue is not just about taking back the house, which of course, is ultimately the goal. It is about electing more women into office -- especially now, when the stakes are so high. A few more women might bring civility back to Washington. Something certainly must.

Congress is nowhere near balanced, and therefore, our voice, the woman's voice, which is critical, is not being sufficiently heard. Congress has 535 voting members. The House of Representatives has 435 members; 76 of them are women. The Senate has 100 members; 17 of them are women. You see? No balance. By the way, there were plenty of men at this luncheon today. One very special man, Astronaut Mark Kelly was there, and along with his courageous wife, Gabby Giffords, former Congresswoman from Arizona, took to the stage to introduce House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. The standing ovation Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly received, was well-deserved.

Mark gave a moving, powerful speech about Nancy Pelosi, and the extraordinary gains she has made during her 25 years of service, while Gabby stood by him, nodding in agreement, and smiling her brilliant smile. He noted that eventually they both hope that Gabby will be the one delivering these speeches, but for now, he is her stand-in. Quite a stand-in; he commanded the final flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Mark spoke about how important it is for women to have a voice in the policies and practices of our government -- of our country. But he knows better than most what a sacrifice some women make to serve our country. He also knows that his wife is a role model for all of us, because she is not a quitter. She is determined to regain her strength and her health, and fights for it every day. At one appropriate point in Mark's speech, when he quotes her battle cry of "fight, fight, fight," she raised her arm and punched the sky three times. And we all recognized that this gesture was dramatic. It took her months of physical therapy to regain much of her movements and strength, and it is an ongoing process.

When House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi came up on stage, it was clear that she also has learned the battle cry, and isn't about to forget it anytime soon. Nancy was preaching to the choir, of course. She had us at "hello." But after she told us some personal recollections about the courage of Gabrielle "Gabby" Giffords, and the resolute loyalty of her husband, and reinforced what we had already surmised about the new candidates we met, she shared a couple of memorable quotes with us. The first one is courtesy of Thomas Edison and goes like this:

We often miss opportunity because it's dressed in overalls and looks like work.
And finally, she wrapped up her remarks by sharing a portion of a prayer that was written, in part, for her.
A person dies, and goes to Heaven to meet with God. God asks him, 'Where are your wounds?' The person looks at himself, confused, and replies, 'What wounds, I have no wounds!' God says, 'Was there nothing worth fighting for?'

Getting more women into Congress is worth the fight. Taking this opportunity, even though it's dressed in overalls, and looks like work, is still an opportunity. This is not just a woman's issue. Getting more balance, civility, and cooperation into our government is a human issue.

And P.S. Women do a lot more than make cookies and wear cute panties, although we do that too.

 

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