Should Sen. Barack Obama emerge as the Democratic candidate, women have
compelling reasons to support his candidacy. Here are my top ten:
10. Nearly half of women voting in the Democratic primaries already support
Sen. Obama's candidacy. CNN compiled exit polling data from all the states that
held primaries before West Virginia. Averaging the percentage that each
candidate received from women voters in these states, the two Democratic
candidates were only three points apart (46.6% for Obama, 49.6% for Clinton).
Sen. Obama won the women's vote in 13 states, compared to 16 for Clinton -- and
that's not counting the caucuses where he won decisively, including among
9. Support for Sen. Obama among women is not surprising. His stands on issues
important to women, from fair pay to reproductive justice to support for paid
sick days and paid family leave, are strikingly similar to Sen. Clinton's.
He'll be not just on the right side but a champion for gender justice. Above
all, he has shown his commitment and ability to galvanize grassroots movements
-- the key to moving our agenda.
8. He has attributed his understanding of gender to the strong women in his
life, including his mother, grandmother and wife Michelle. Having been raised
by a single mother, he has insights into the lives of those who need food
stamps to feed their families or have to choose between seeking health care or
paying the rent. As an engaged father he understands the reality of work-life
conflicts, but he also sees how these fall disproportionately on women, and how
much more difficult they are for women without resources.
7. Our anger at the sexism that emerged in this campaign, from low-life
hecklers to high-profile pundits, should stoke our determination but not
determine our vote. At the same time, we must all oppose the racism that
emerged in both blatant and coded ways and recognize that breaking that glass
ceiling is also a blow to the Big Boys, one that weakens them and strengthens
6. Women can set an example of unity to build a stronger party that draws on
the unprecedented turnout in the primaries among African-Americans, women of
all races, young people and others who have too long been left out of political
decision-making. Such a coming together will not only power an election victory,
but lay the groundwork for significant social change in the coming years.
5. John McCain on the war: Sen. Obama's early judgment opposing the war in
Iraq puts him in an excellent position to take on John McCain, who has not only
supported the war from its onset but professed to having no problem should
troops remain in Iraq for 100 years. Women can't afford a president who thinks
"Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" is a stance to brag about.
4. John McCain on the right to abortion: not only does he oppose it, he's
pledged to fill any Supreme Court vacancies with justices who will overturn Roe
3. John McCain on health care: McCain voted against reauthorizing the State
Children's Health Insurance Program for five years. His health plan provides $2
billion in tax cuts to the top ten health insurance companies, while allowing
those companies to exclude people with pre-existing conditions.
2. John McCain on valuing families: When Congress was considering the Family
and Medical Leave Act in 1993, McCain voted to suspend it unless the federal
government certified that compliance wouldn't increase business expenses or
gave employers financial assistance to cover any costs. He supports a
constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and campaigned for an
Arizona constitutional amendment banning any legal recognition to gay couples.
1. John McCain on fair pay: He opposes the Fair Pay Restoration Act on the
grounds that it will create too many lawsuits (this is like opposing OSHA
inspections on the grounds that too many violations will be found). He also
opposed raising the minimum wage and safeguarding overtime rights.
And did I mention John McCain?
Those of us who have been supporting Obama welcome the passionate, hard-working
supporters of Sen. Clinton -- as we will support her should the campaign turn
out differently than expected. Every woman angry at the way in which gender
discrimination has robbed our pay, crimped our opportunities, devalued our work
in the labor force and in the home, minimized our pain and trivialized the
barriers we face, now has a great opportunity to determine the outcome of this
election. We also have a great responsibility, to ourselves and the women who