Laying out a road map to electing America’s first woman president
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Rebecca Sive’s new book is entitled, “Vote Her in: Your Guide to Electing Our First Woman President.” It could be subtitled, “Again.”
Hillary Rodham Clinton won the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election but lost to Donald J. Trump in the Electoral College.
“But for the arcane system of the Electoral College, she would be president,” Sive declared the other day. “So, I concluded, in my anger, ‘We can do this again.’ ”
We chatted over coffee at a North Side diner, on, natch, Tuesday, Election Day. Her “Manifesto,” she explained, was written to capitalize on the anger of women everywhere.
There could never be a better time. No one knows that better than Sive, a Chicago-based organizer, advocate and policy maker since the 1970s.
I have watched her since she co-chaired Women for Washington and served on the Finance Committee for Harold Washington’s historic 1983 mayoral campaign. She has helped developed women’s issues agendas for presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. She is the founding program and academic director of the Women in Public Leadership program at the University of Chicago.
After a misogynist was elevated to the presidency, the Women’s March, #Me-too, Times Up, and many others got busy.
“So, the first stage, is, we’re angry,” Sive said. “We then said, ‘We are going to mobilize and do something about this.’ We then mobilized, we campaigned, we volunteered, we wrote letters, we wrote post cards. We voted.”
On Nov. 6, we made history with a record number of women — more than 100 — elected to the U.S. House, according to the Washington Post. “There hasn’t been another moment like this in American history, where we both are in that ready-for-that-next stage politically, but also emotionally, psychologically.”
Her book lays out the road map to get there. It’s part education, part inspiration, part hard-knocks advice on how to elect women to all levels of government.
Women have already made big gains in legislatures across the country and have proven more likely to advance policies that benefit women and girls, Sive noted. She cites work from a team of researchers that included Alexander Fouirnaies, an assistant professor at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy. They examined women state legislators serving between 1990 and 2014.
“The bills that women sponsor also focus, by and large, on women’s issues,” the authors wrote.
While about 23.5 percent of legislators they examined were women, “more than 30 percent of bills categorized as concerning welfare are sponsored by women legislators, and roughly 28 percent of bills categorized as health-related are sponsored by women. Women also sponsor education bills at an unusually high rate.”
Women mayors, governors, and presidents can do much more. “Executives can issue executive orders. Executives have a bully pulpit. Executives have appointment powers,” Sive said. “Executives have large influence on who gets picked to run and who gets recruited to run, and who is able run for leadership positions in the legislature.”
That’s the case for a woman president in 2020.
How about a woman mayor in 2019? “I really believe that a municipal policy viewed through a gender lens in Chicago could be revolutionary in terms of the benefits they bring to Chicago,” Sive said.
There are four accomplished women already running for mayor in 2019, with one more likely to come.
Let the revolution begin.
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