Remember the old commercial slogan that said to women, “You’ve come a long way baby”?
This century women gained the right to vote, but today women in politics seem to be hitting a glass ceiling. Women remain woefully under-represented. In Congress, they are only 9 percent of the Senate and a mere 12 percent of the House. But that doesn’t fully explain the problem.
When it comes to leadership positions, women are completely shut out of the top posts in both chambers. And not a single woman chairs a committee where the real power is. That’s not progress. Why aren’t women making more progress? Incumbents have all the advantages and few sensible people can be convinced to quit their jobs to take on these powerful incumbents.
Most incumbents are, of course, men. A study by the National Women’s Political Caucus concluded: “Winning elections has nothing to do with the sex of the candidate, and everything to do with incumbency.” With term limits in effect for state legislatures, both Maine and Oregon have elected their first woman speaker. Women are also gaining other leadership positions.
But our national legislature, the Congress, has been monopolized by incumbents. Monopolies in the private sector, that denied women a fair chance, wouldn’t be tolerated. Why then are so many powerful folks in Washington, including the leaders of women’s groups, tolerating a political “good ole boy” network?
Women have come a long way, but with term limits they can go even further.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.