I’m very pleased to read that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is not done fighting. I also don’t want her to be done leading – for the sake of all women who look to see where they can go. This country, in fact, not just women, need the visible presence of a woman at the uppermost positions of power in Congress now more than ever. If she listened to her own words here, I don’t know how she could not come away with the same answer to everyone’s question about what she will do.
[Update: This Politico article indicates that even with their gains - due in no small part to new women from their side, Republicans still look to limit the number of women in leadership to one.]
I’ve been staring at the numbers – including the huge overall loss of women in the state legislatures and feel strongly that it is critical to have as many women as possible in as high and as visible positions as possible. While I honestly don’t “know” that much about Speaker Pelosi, the respect she deserves for what she has had to deal with in the last four years is beyond question.
I understand that there are many ways to slice the overall loss of women in the U.S. House, but we must look long-term too and prepare for what we can reasonably hope will be increases again in 2012, looking down the road at who will be there and in what places when that happens. This issue is nonpartisan (consider the approach of The 2012 Project, including Ohio’s own Jo Ann Davidson) and yet I can’t find blog posts, opeds or articles about the continued if not increased need for the high visibility of women in the House, now more than ever.
So I’m writing one.
Maybe I’m just not savvy enough to know the “politics as usual” thing that’s supposed to be done (and I count myself lucky for that), but I think Nancy Pelosi should stay on in some capacity in the minority leadership and if she wants to retire, fine, she deserves to make that decision, obviously. However, now more than ever, women, all women, need her presence there. I fear for an agenda that is not touched or steered by a woman in the House leadership with the years of experience and knowledge and accomplishment Pelosi has gained. Women need to see a woman of her stature in there, and need to know she’s in there and included and contributing.
Consider the reality that there was not a single woman on the stimulus package conference committee out of ten members between the House and the Senate. Why not? Because none had been appointed to chairs of the relevant committees that participated in that committee. Why not? Because none had the seniority or other experience or knowledge gained or connections that come with being in the mix or were from the “right” geographic area perhaps.
The only way we solve this? By getting in the mix and staying in the mix and seeing women in the mix.
As a woman who works on getting women from all points on the political spectrum to run, calls out when we see no diversity in power, calls out tokenism, and walks the walk by running for office myself and putting up with and trying to break through ceilings and whatever other barriers I must confront, I believe that seeing a woman like Speaker Pelosi hang in there and continue to make a difference will have an immeasurable and unparalleled positive effect, now and for the future. Consider what the message is if she does not. Consider what that message was when Sarah Palin quit.
Of course, if and when Speaker Pelosi does retire, I pray she finds a great woman or several great women to run for her seat.