For women in Congress, it's lonely at the top

  • Article by: Melinda Henneberger , Washington Post
  • Updated: June 13, 2012 - 1:26 PM

Women have more competition in elections than their male counterparts do, and they have to fight harder and raise more money to stay in office.

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bwebsterJun. 13, 12 1:37 PM

Tougher yet for women with the name Bachmann or Pelosi.

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Thumper5316Jun. 13, 12 2:29 PM

Another appropriate headline might be, "Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought stupid than to open your mouth and end all doubts."

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spitzeJun. 13, 12 2:34 PM

If women want more women candidates and by extension more representation in congress then women need to stand up and put themselves forth as candidates. I have frequently heard female friends and family lament the lack of female representation but when asked if they would put themselves forward as a candidate they have all said no. When asked if they would actively organize for a candidate most have also said no. So I say to all the strong confident women here that if you want more women as candidates the answer starts with you. If you present a compelling platform and campaign that I agree with I'll gladly vote for you. But, I will never vote for you if you don't run for office.

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one4thepeepsJun. 13, 12 2:57 PM

The anger the GOP has for the other side seems to foment even more when they face a candidate who is female, African-American, or Muslim, like Keith Ellison, from district 5. Even a moderate female senator such as Amy Klobuchar, who works tirelessly across bipartisan lines for the good of the people, can become a "lightning rod" in the eyes of a GOP. Republicans are doubly threatened when facing a candidate with a diverse background. Even when one of their own, like Michelle Bachmann, rises to prominence, she is celebrated more for her looks than her speaking engagements with Fox News. Don't believe me? Recently the Minnesota GOP even released an advertisement that played the song "Who Let the Dawgs Out" poking fun at the looks of DFL women. It's sad when politics are reduced to gender, race, religion, or matters of looks, but when you are Republicans playing to an ever-shrinking base of white males, you get attention where you can.

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ziggymJun. 13, 12 3:08 PM

@spitze- yes, true, any individual woman might not have the desire to run for office (not all men do, either), or the time or endure the lack of privacy and attacks. However, there ARE many women organizers and groups actively working to get more women candidates: Women Winning and Emily's List are two off the top of my head. They are both left-leaning, but surely there are some conservative women's group as well. Both have the National Federation of (Republican or Democratic) Women. But they need men to vote for them, too, and certain places won't, according to the article.

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FrankLJun. 13, 12 3:18 PM

ziggym, but that has to apply to all levels of government. The only way you find good candidates for congress is to get a lot of candidates in the lower offices to see which have the stamina and organizing ability to run for higher office. I take the complaints by women with a grain of salt when I see dozens of elections with no opposition candidates. Those are opportunities for women politicians.

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gophfan10101Jun. 13, 12 3:25 PM

Also...I could care less what color, sex, creed, religion, etc. you are, if I don't agree with what you represent, I'm going to come after you. If I agree with you, I will support you.

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ziggymJun. 13, 12 3:53 PM

@FrankL- I agree! I thought of Women Winning and Emily's List because I only know of them locally- working in MN specifically to elect women candidates and supporting current elected women in their re-election bids. Women Winning is specific to MN, only in MN, and the one I know the best. Emily's List is national but have local chapters in each state. I don't know much about the national federations. Our own legislature hovers just over 30% women, but when Repubs took over 2 years ago women lost overall seats in both the House & Senate.

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muggsh2oJun. 13, 12 4:32 PM

As an independent, I vote for the person I feel is best for the office. I don't care what race, gender, ethnicity, whatever. When I look at the opportunities available to me over the years, the lack of experience (even after years in Congress) and the partisan politics have caused me to vote against the women. People like Michele Bachmann, Betty McCollum, and, yes, Amy Klobuchar do not impress me with their abilities to represent me and the others in the districts and state. However, it seems that Dems hate when women rise in the ranks. They have been overly ruthless with Bachmann, Palin, and Clinton. Yet, they vote the most inexperienced, partisan president into office in 2008.

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goferfanzJun. 13, 12 7:15 PM

Well, the "leadership" of Nancy Pelosi will set the women's movement back decades unless a star suddenly rises in either party. I cant think of a single leader in either major party, except Hoover, who presided over a bigger downfall than Ms Pelosi. The 40% decline in family wealth, exactly matching her 2007-2010 tenure, was just the proverbial icing on the cake. Two war surges funded, 5 million total jobs lost, over 5 Trillion in new debt, gas up a buck, etc etc is really a run of incompetence that is rarely seen.

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