Thursday, September 27, 2012

Obama and America's Political Future...and Women!

Theda Skocpol is a rock star of the political science world. Her lecture on “Obama and America’s Political Future” drew a crowd to the WAPPP Cason Seminar room. I have never seen so many men at a WAPPP lunch before. Something tells me it’s because the topic was not gender this time...And yet, here are the top five women-related highlights from the conversation:

5. Women are a politically relevant demographic. In case you were wondering why both presidential campaigns are aggressively pursuing women, it is because women vote in higher numbers than men do. They trend Democratic. When they vote, they tend to be more aware of how policies may affect their families. 

4. The Tea Party is teeming with women – older white women, given the demographics of this movement. Professor Skocpol, who co-authored the first in-depth book on the Tea Party, said that the women were the lifeblood of the local chapters. They organized the meetings, brought the snacks and shouldered most of the work of the grassroots movement, but they stopped there. “Just like in every other movement” Professor Skocpol reflected “the women did not advance to the top or become candidates.”

3. Women in Election 2012: Issues and Voters is currently highlighted on the Scholars Strategy Network website. The SSN, which Professor Skocpol directs, brings together America’s leading scholars to address important public policy problems in language that anyone can understand. 

2. Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic Senate challenger from Massachusetts, might benefit from the high number of educated female voters in the state. However, Professor Skocpol said Massachusetts is a historically difficult place for a woman to win. To illustrate the surprising ways that sexism manifests here, she described recent behavior of incumbent Senator Brown’s staffers at a Warren rally as “reminiscent of teenage boys trying to annoy their teacher.”  

1. “Hillary Clinton is going to run for President. And win.” Answering the question “Do you think Hillary Clinton might consider running?”

I should mention that in the best tradition of effective lecturing, Professor Skocpol also took us through the challenges the Obama administration has faced, dissected the failures of the administration to address some of those challenges, and explained the Tea Party practice of “kick-ass politics.”  She covered much more ground than I could possibly fit here, and even left us with some things to ponder for 2016. 

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