by Jude Siefker, Den Haag
This congressional race shows just how far women have come in recent years in seeking political office. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane has represented the 5th Congressional District of Washington State since 2005. In this strongly Republican slice of Eastern Washington (Trump won by 13 points), she has never had to worry about re-election. This assurance has allowed her to rise to the rank of the top woman Republican in the House and the fourth ranked Republican overall. But, this year, she is faced with tough competition from Democrat Lisa Brown. In an open primary, held August 7, 2018, McMorris Rodgers received 47.8% of the vote to Brown’s 46.8%.
Brown has never held national elected office but is an economist, a Washington State University professor and was the State Senate Majority Leader. In the very rural 5th District, she is campaigning on a number of issues that appeal to farmers. One area of concern is the impact of the current administration policies on farmers. Tariffs are especially unpopular as is the administration’s withdrawal from multilateral trade agreements. Congress has also failed to pass a bipartisan farm bill. To compensate for the economic impact that all of these factors are having on farmers, the Department of Agriculture has proposed a short-term aid package. This is also unpopular with farmers because they prefer to have continued trade rather than a bailout. Due to both tariffs and weather conditions, farm income is projected to be the lowest in 12 years.
To date, Brown has run her campaign on promoting better legislation for Congress to help farmers. She believes that Congress should encourage bipartisanship to maintain healthy trade relationships that have taken many years to develop. Although Trump has been instrumental in imposing tariffs that are ruinous for both farmers and manufacturers in Washington State, in reality, the Constitution defines the enactment of tariffs to be a role of Congress, not the executive branch. Brown seeks to return this role to Congress.
Another important issue in Brown’s campaign is Congress’s many attempts to repeal Obamacare. This is especially significant in the rural area that she seeks to represent because many farmers, being self employed, cannot afford traditional medical insurance. In addition, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act is projected to cause many small, rural hospitals to have to close. This could be disastrous for rural areas that already tend to be under served by existing medical centers. Brown’s campaign focuses on fixing Obamacare and other factors that diminish medical care in rural areas.
McMorris Rodgers, of course, supports the policies that are diminishing Trump’s popularity with the major base in her district—farmers.
The record shows that she has backed his agenda 97.6 % of the time. Despite Trump’s growing unpopularity, McMorris Rodgers has the advantage in fund raising. She started with money left over from her 2016 campaign and has raised $3.7 million to Brown’s $2.2 million. Much of her war chest has been the result of Citizens United.
Despite McMorris Rodgers’ obvious financial advantage, Brown is expected to stay in close competition if not to pull ahead as Election Day nears. Both are expected to focus on trade deals and tariffs because Washington is purported to be the most trade dependent state with 40% of jobs being dependent on trade. Because of her record of supporting Trump’s policies, voters may not trust McMorris Rodgers to take any effective action to bolster trade. This should give Lisa Brown a definite edge.
Democrats Abroad will be talking online with Florida Congressional candidate Mary Barzee Flores on Tuesday August 28th at 1:30 p.m Eastern. RSVP for the call to get the link right here
And read on to learn more about her!
by Clara Dessaint
A Miami native and dedicated public servant, Mary Barzee Flores is running for Congress in Florida’s 25th District. As an economic opportunity promoter and pro-choice healthcare advocate, Mary is espousing an inclusive progressive platform, with priorities ranging from gun violence and criminal justice reform to immigration and education.
Mary’s experience is as varied as her focus areas. After obtaining her Bachelors in music at the University of Miami, Mary pivoted to social justice, earning her JD at her alma mater’s School of Law. A brief stint in private practice then led to a 12-year career in Miami’s Federal Office of the Public Defender.
In 2002, Mary ran for an open judgeship on the Florida Circuit Court and was elected without opposition. After an 8-year tenure, which saw her preside over more than 100 jury trials and a dozen bench trials, Mary retired from the court and returned to private practice.
In 2015, President Obama nominated Mary to serve as federal district judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Despite having recommended her himself, Marco Rubio blocked Mary’s nomination and she was never even given a Senate hearing.
A proven champion for South Florida working families, Mary lives in Coral Gables with her husband and their two children.
By Clara Dessaint
Being a Democrat Abroad since November 8th, 2016 has not been easy. In the oft-described time warp brought on by the Trump administration, the day Hillary Clinton came so very close to shattering the glass ceiling – one she had been steadfastly making fissures in for decades – feels like both yesterday and light years away.
Much has happened in American politics since her magnanimous concession speech, most of it twisting the United States into a purveyor of discord rather than a bastion of freedom, acceptance and opportunity. Coming to terms with it all has been a true grieving progress but, fitting with our new distorted reality, the stages of grief have been anything but linear.
Denial rolled in fast and, no doubt emboldened by distance, took months to recede, marrying itself nicely with bargaining. From “of course Jill Stein’s recount efforts will rectify this madness” to “the Electoral College will vote its conscience instead of its party” every possible, overly idealistic ‘out’ was nurtured.
Anger and its partner-in-crime depression followed in unrelenting waves. When the Muslim ban was issued and then more recently ratified by the Supreme Court. When migrant children were heartlessly separated from their parents at the border and sent into a gratuitous and cruel bureaucratic limbo that has yet to be untangled. When the Trump administration attempted to water down a World Health Organization resolution on breastfeeding to benefit formula companies and now seems poised to further limit women’s choices over their bodies through another Supreme Court appointment…
Emotional-tsunami-inducing CNN notifications are too many to list and too complex to neatly box into Kubler-Ross’ model for loss. Indeed, political grief is a no man’s land of its own, where fear, embarrassment and bewilderment co-mingle with the jumbled first four stages while the fifth – acceptance – oftentimes seems completely out of the question.
Somehow though, even as each week in the Trump White House is deemed worse than the previous, hope – the message that brought President Obama to victory twice and which he recently reminded Democrats to espouse – is omnipresent.
There is hope in the grassroots primary victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in the historically unparalleled number of women running for office, and in the slow but steady indictments emerging from Robert Mueller’s office. There is hope too in late-night hosts’ marked dedication to calling out, however humorously, Trump’s travesties as they occur and in the brilliantly biting words of NY Times columnist Charles Blow and Pod Save America host Jon Favreau, to name but a few. From the Women’s March to the March for Our Lives and the Families Belong Together rallies, there is hope in the international activism that most recently floated a Baby Trump above Parliament Square and thereby dissuaded the man himself from visiting London.
Essentially, there is hope in the People’s ability – around the world and across all demographics – to speak truth to power, to take to the streets and phone lines alike to demand better. Let’s keep post offices abroad busy this November and vote out those who don’t listen.
Photos taken at the London Women’s March on January 21st, 2017.
By Linda Gould
I had a conversation recently that shook me to my core.
It was a normal conversation about politics that progressed to a one-sided shouting match. I was the calm one but defended my criticisms of Trump and what I consider to be black-hearted conservative policies. Then, the person asked me, “Why do you even care? You don’t even live in America.”
God, I wish I had $10,000 for every time I was asked that question. But I calmly answered. “Because I have kids who are going to have to live in the world we are creating, because my husband and I would like to move back to the US someday, and because I love my country and want what’s best for all Americans. Because I’m American.”
“That’s debatable,” was the response from someone I know well (or thought I did) and respect, even though we disagree politically. From someone who I always thought respected me.
It felt like an earthquake. Like when the ground that has always been there to support you suddenly jerks and jolts and knocks you off your feet and tosses you around.
A few other hurtful insults were thrown at me, criticizing me for my liberal beliefs, with the result that I have spent significant time recently reflecting on how I developed from a Reagan-voting, military-loving, individualism-touting, bootstrap-raising, my-way-or-the-highway bullying, I-deserve-all-I have white woman to the compassionate and passionate liberal that I am today. I was raised conservative, but conservatism is as antithetical to me today as it was appealing when I was young. What changed me?
The amazing women who have been part of my life.
Of course it’s not that simple—no one who travels to foreign countries, attends university, reads extensively, has an astute partner, and lives abroad remains unchanged. But when I think about the moments that literally shifted my behavior or way of thinking, they were connected to some woman in my life:
A boss, the first who cared about me as a person and not solely as an employee, who challenged my views on marriage and motherhood, and shared her feelings of loneliness as she grew older without a companion; my friend who showed me there was humor to be found in the frustration of raising kids, and if you didn’t tap into that humor, your children would suffer; another friend who was betrayed in the worst way but stood strong and fought for her future when it would have been so much easier to crumble; a colleague who pointed out my hypocrisy by asking a simple question, “How is your viewpoint less ideological?”; my female colleagues and now friends who supported each other when a misogynistic manager bullied and abused us while the male management did nothing; the role-model mothers in my community who patiently dealt with temper tantrums, unreasonable demands, and teenage snark; friends, family and colleagues who taught me how to be a friend, to open my mind to new possibilities, to listen, to understand that privilege is as much responsible for my success as my own efforts, and most importantly, to reflect on and challenge my own views, then to change them if they didn’t meet that challenge.
None of these women were aware at the time that they were influencing me. They didn’t see themselves as models of human behavior with a mission to change someone’s worldview. Heck, I didn’t know how much they were influencing me. It took that face-slapping comment from a friend for me to reflect on and see how by simply being authentic and open, they helped mold a better human, a better citizen.
When you look at history’s list of heroes, so few are women. We rarely get the glory for our accomplishments. Yet our influence reaches deep into our societies. We are accomplished in our own right and inspire others to achieve. So many of our reactions and conversations appear to be insignificant moments that drift into the ether, but they actually resonate years later in the behavior of our children, friends, strangers, and even ourselves. Our routine moments take on a life of their own when someone sees them as a way of coping with difficulties. Our day-to-day life is the ultimate example of soft power.
But we also aspire to more. Some of us want to play a stronger role in our government and businesses. And because we are women, we are told by other women to support each other. Madeline Albright famously said, “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.”
Hell aside, we SHOULD be helping each other. It is unfathomable to me that it was a woman who stopped the Equal Rights Amendment. I’m still furious that women helped elect a misogynist racist to the highest political office. And it is women who are often the most vicious critics of female celebrities, politicians and neighbors. They are a minority, but their power has been accentuated because so many of us have NOT been politically engaged. Now we are. But marches and protests are not enough.
We need more women in office. Run for office. Support a candidate. Vote.
The conversation I experienced was like an earthquake. So, too, was the election of Donald Trump. But like after every earthquake, there is a time for rebuilding. For making what was destroyed better, stronger, more resilient.
We need more women in office. Run for office. Support a candidate. Vote.
There is a record number of women running for office this year. Not all deserve your vote (some are like Phyllis Schlafley who would take away our rights), but they all deserve your attention. I’m a Democrat and hope that every woman elected this year has a (D) after their name. But it is also important to keep in mind that it was two Republican women—Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski—who stood against their Party and voted to keep the Affordable Care Act, who are on record for being against overturning Roe v. Wade. Don’t support a woman candidate because she is a woman; support her because her actions will influence others to be strong, tolerant, compassionate, and engaged.
Yes, we influence with our soft power. But we can have an even stronger influence on our families, fellow Americans and country.
To do that, we need more women in office. Run for office. Support a candidate. Vote.
Vote. Vote. Vote.
Author ofThe Diamond Tree
By Deborah Gorham
I’ve lived in Canada—in Ottawa Ontario-- since 1965 and I’ve been a Canadian citizen since 1968. I’m now 81 years old and I’ve lived here most of my adult life. And yet, I find myself feeling more and more American. It’s not that I don’t like Canada. I respect Canada and enjoy many things about living here. But I miss the United States. I was born in New York City, in Manhattan, and, in 1956, came to Canada to attend McGill. After McGill, I ended up staying here, and I remained here even after my first husband and I split up. By then I had a position as a faculty member at Carleton University here in Ottawa, and I had received tenure. I enjoyed my Carleton career. I was a “pioneer “ in Women’s History and Women’s Studies. Hard work, but such fun.
So why do I feel more American than Canadian? Well, partly it’s New York itself. Manhattan is not a typical American place, but it is so special, and it is definitely my home. I tell myself the Manhattan of 1955 is what I miss, and that’s long gone. Still, every time I return for a visit, I love being there, even though the city is now overwhelming to me: noisy, crowded, even frightening. It’s exciting, in a way that Montreal and Toronto, great cities that they are, are not, at least not for me. Maybe it’s just that I am appalled by President Trump, in the way only an American can be? Maybe homesickness is just part of growing old?
If I moved back to the United States, even to Manhattan, no doubt I would miss Canada!
Candidates I’m concerned about? I vote from Wisconsin. I do hope that Senator Tammy Baldwin wins re-election.
Distinguished Research professor
Department of History
In the midst of recent political shock waves, Donald Trump’s abhorrent choice of Supreme Court nominee Bret Kavanaugh seems to have slipped way down in our priorities and is beginning to sound like a fait accompli. We can’t lower our guard!
Kavanaugh is the enemy of everything we stand for as women (and men). And yet swing vote Republican Susan Collins – who knows better - says he’s “clearly qualified.” Kavanaugh’s record is disturbing: enemy of Roe v. Wade, unions, environment, affordable care, and against US presidents being subject to criminal investigation while in office.
Trump should not be allowed to choose a Supreme Court justice until Mueller clears him.
Tell this to your Senators and be sure to call Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), 202-224-6665 and Susan Collins (Maine) 202-224-2523 who could prevent the nomination from getting through the Senate. Both women Senators sound like they’re caving and need to be contacted.
Keep saying No to this outrage.
“In Congress, I will always protect a woman's right to choose and fight any efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.
Katie Porter is the Democratic candidate running against incumbent Republican Mimi Walters to represent CA's 45th District. This Orange County district voted for Clinton over Trump in 2016, and is considered competitive by pundits. WNDC members, this is a great chance to flip a Republican district!
Porter is a consumer protection attorney and UC Irvine law professor who is endorsed by Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, among others. Her top priorities include Medicare for All, woman's right to choose, an assault weapons ban, and repealing the 2017 tax giveaway to corporations and the wealthy. She has extensive experience in state government, including obtaining relief for Orange County homeowners whose mortgages were underwater after the 2008 financial crisis. She has three young children, and serves as Cubmaster to her son's scout pack.
Porter's opponent Walters is not moderate, but rather fully supports Trump's radical agenda. The Republicans will spend any amount to try to keep the 45th red. As a result, Porter will need our help to flip the 45th. We encourage you to learn about Porter at her campaign website
by Kelsey Mc Lendon
In a crowded room at the Literaturhaus in Stuttgart, Germany, members of the Democrats Abroad Women’s Caucus gathered with about 180 people to listen to Rebecca Solnit perform readings of her newest book, a collection of essays titled, The Mother of All Questions, and answer questions about literature, activism, and the future of American politics.
Solnit’s book begins by challenging the notion that a woman’s capacity is limited solely to childbearing rather than creations of the mind. Recalling a talk she gave on Virginia Woolf, Solnit described how the line of questioning quickly turned to reasons for why Woolf didn’t procreate instead of focusing on what she did create—her exceptional written work. In fact, one of the things Woolf famously wrote about was dismantling expectations for women to be the “Angel in the House.” Nearly 90 years later, women continue fighting against this ideal, and Solnit’s book argues that we must refuse questions that attempt to define what it means to be a woman. Instead, Solnit says, we must reject simple answers and embrace the unknown.
When reflecting on the literary canon, Solnit remarked that a book without a single woman in it is about humanity, but a book with a woman protagonist is a “woman’s book.” Knowing that we learn to imagine the world from the literature we read, it’s no wonder that straight, white men in particular often cannot imagine themselves as anyone else—they’ve never had to do so. In this way, diverse stories have never been more important because they provide us with different lenses through which to view the world and invite questions about whose stories are being told. Thanks to literary giants of the past like Woolf, James Baldwin, Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, and so many others, we’ve seen an explosion of diverse literature in the past few decades that asks all readers to listen and reimagine the world.
In conjunction with examining whose stories are told, Solnit’s book also prompts readers to consider silence—specifically, who has been silenced historically and currently. Perhaps the loudest breaking of that silence recently has been the #MeToo movement. While it seems like #MeToo was a sudden wave of unleashed stories, unprecedented support for those stories, and demands of accountability, Solnit reminds us that #MeToo was a culmination of previous, long-term efforts of women (often women of color) speaking out. As demonstrated in the #MeToo movement, stories grant the previously silenced the ability to be heard and grant everyone else opportunities to broaden their perspectives.
Placing these notions of silence, stories, and listening in context with the larger political climate, Solnit urged the audience to remember that elections are the bedrock of democracy but daily actions are what preserve it. If we are to recover from the Trump presidency, it is imperative that we read about the past, listen to each other’s stories, and, as Rep. John Lewis has said, make “good trouble, necessary trouble.” November is still far off, and we must work every day to defend our basic rights and democratic values. Referencing an article in The Guardian, Solnit stated that historical studies suggest it only takes 3.5% of a country’s population (about 11 million people in the U.S.) to topple an unpopular regime through sustained nonviolent opposition.
Solnit announced that an upcoming campaign to impeach Trump will be starting soon.
The Women’s Caucus international book club, Books Abroad, will discuss The Mother of All Questions at our next meeting on Sunday, October 21. Please join in!
Below is a list of readings that Solnit referenced throughout the evening:
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
The writings of Subcomandante Marcos
“Peculiar Benefits” by Roxana Gay
Healing from Hate: How Young Men Get Into―and Out of―Violent Extremism by Michael Kimmel
Thank you for reading our DA Global Women’s Caucus Summer Newsletter.
We are all very excited about the work we have been doing since our last newsletter and the work yet to come, so here is our update.
FIRST: THE ADMINISTRATION'S IMMIGRATION POLICY
We, as parents, children and human beings, are appalled and revolted by the current Administration’s policy. First it was the separation of children from their immigrant parents. Now he intends to incarcerate families together but indefinitely. This is an abhorrent and a blatant violation of human rights. All of us in our Country Chapters and our Women’s Caucuses are organizing events to protest this inhuman policy. Please make your voices heard. And do check out the Democrats Abroad information on this issue.
NEXT: The Mid-Terms
We encourage all our members worldwide to form DA Women’s Caucuses in their countries and cities and plan events, particularly Get Out the Vote (GOTV) events. If you need help and ideas on how to do this, visit our GWC page.
The Democrats Abroad Global Women’s Caucus (DA GWC) - as women and mothers- and human beings are appalled and revolted by the current Administration’s policy of separating children from their immigrant parents. It is abhorrent and a blatant violation of human rights. All of us in our Country Chapters and our Women’s Caucuses are organizing events to protest this inhuman policy. Please make your voices heard. And do visit the Democrats Abroad link on this issue at http://www.democratsabroad.org/keep_families_together.