Women gear­ing up to take cen­tre stage dur­ing midterm polls in US

The de­cider will be women in 2020 elec­tions as fem­i­nists have now started to ques­tion ‘what’s ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour’ in po­lit­i­cal dis­course.

The Sunday Guardian - - Nation -

Those who thought that the ugly pic­ture of protests, po­lit­i­cal ac­cu­sa­tions and even­tu­ally an FBI probe, be­tween the nom­i­na­tion and Sen­ate con­fir­ma­tion vote of Brett Ka­vanaugh would end soon af­ter he got seated as a Supreme Court Judge, are giv­ing a re­think.

Rea­son: Over a week later, Judge Ka­vanaugh’s nom­i­na­tion is turn­ing out to be a “po­lit­i­cal ca­su­alty” for the Repub­li­cans, who are now en­gaged in a “full- blown po­lit­i­cal bat­tle” against the Democrats. First flames of this are go­ing to fire up the 6 Novem­ber mid-term polls with Democrats all out in open ramp­ing sup­port to their “come and vote cam­paign”. It fol­lows with the threats to af­fect Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s sec­ond term elec­tions in 2020.

Jus­tice Ka­vanaugh nom­i­na­tion is go­ing to “touch many chords, even­tu­ally all reach­ing the polling booths”. From politi­cians to fem­i­nists to civil lib­er­ties unions to rights ac­tivists to mi­grant unions to im­mi­gra­tion ex­perts and think tanks, all are closely look­ing into fu­ture as they see some “hard times com­ing”.

As says Diane But­ler, an im­mi­gra­tion at­tor­ney from Seat­tle and a board mem­ber of Amer­i­can Im­mi­gra­tion Lawyers As­so­ci­a­tion (AILA): “In im­mi­gra­tion con­text, Judge Ka­vanaugh has the his­tory to re­vise laws. In one such case in­volv­ing a Brazil­ian restau­rant, which had hired Brazil­ian chefs to pro­vide authen­tic cui­sine, he over­looked and side­lined the ar­gu­ment of cul­tural knowl­edge is a sig­nif­i­cant part of spe­cial knowl­edge.”

Even the South Asians, par­tic­u­larly the In­dian Amer­i­can com­mu­nity is watch­ing closely amidst the buzz of “ju­di­ciary get­ting po­lit­i­cally bi­ased”. What do you say about the cur­rent strength of ju­di­ciary, ma­jor­ity of who have been ap­pointed by Pres­i­dent Trump? Apart from get­ting Ka­vanaugh seated, Trump and Repub­li­cans man­aged 15 more judges, leav­ing a sub­stan­tial mark on the fed­eral court sys­tem. A strong Trump critic, New York Times wrote, “With the ad­di­tion of 15 judges, Trump has ap­pointed 29 ap­peals court judges, which is far more than any other pres­i­dent since the creation of the re­gional cir­cuit court sys­tem in 1891…ap­prox­i­mately one out of ev­ery six ap­peals court judges in the coun­try is a Trump pick.”

Judge Ka­vanaugh now con­sti­tutes a con­ser­va­tive ma­jor­ity on the Supreme Court and he’s full of sup­port for Pres­i­dent Trump, be­liev­ing in “Buy Amer­i­can, Hire Amer­i­can”. With his past court rul­ing in im­mi­gra­tion and mi­grant labour cases, some see a “tough and hard im­mi­gra­tion sce­nario ahead”.

“Im­mi­gra­tion sce­nario is go­ing to get tough… more lim­i­ta­tions can be im­posed, point sys­tem can be hard­ened. And it doesn’t ex­clude South Asia, in­clud­ing In­dia, as these said mea­sures would in line with curb­ing the ‘chain mi­gra­tion’ to limit the num­ber of spon­sor­ing fam­ily visas. Many In­di­ans are al­ready op­pos­ing that move,” says Aparna Dave, an­other im­mi­gra­tion at­tor­ney in Mary­land area.

Echoes But­ler: “There are many such cases where he’s hard on im­mi­grant labour and their rights to work… he’s go­ing to leave his mark and an in­di­rect bear­ing on the pol­i­tics in­volv­ing the mi­grant vot­ers.”

And that means Democrats reach­ing out to their strong South Asian vote bank more in­ten­sively and co­in­ci­den­tally, the mid-term polls will be wit­ness­ing the largest num­ber of In­dian Amer­i­cans in re­cent times.

The women, an­other po­lit­i­cal con­stituency, are al­ready in the arena to fight the Repub­li­cans. Fem­i­nists have raised the protest ban­ner and this time many from the Repub­li­cans it­self. Sig­nalling to fight the Repub­li­cans tooth and nail, women protesters have al­ready started rewrit­ing their plac­ards, have de­scended on the Capi­tol from all over and have started to tar­get Pres­i­dent Trump for his “anti-women rants” and his sup­port to Ka­vanaugh.

Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Su­san Collins’ sup­port for Ka­vanaugh and re­ject­ing the claims of sex­ual as­sault vic­tim Chris­tine Blasey Ford for “not be­ing cor­rob­o­rated” has made many women to run against her in Maine in 2020. Collins may have to fight her tough­est po­lit­i­cal bat­tle ever with Sara Gideon, the Demo- cratic Speaker of the Maine House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, and Su­san Rice, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s Na­tion­alSe­cu­rity Ad­viser al­ready hint­ing to con­test her.

In­ter­est­ingly, re­cent poll sur­veys in the US show the women voter base of Repub­li­cans is shrink­ing. Says Rina Shah, a Repub­li­can strate­gist and founder of Women In­flu­encer Net­work: “Be­ing a woman in pol­i­tics and while work­ing with my or­gan­i­sa­tion, which works to have more women elected, there is a strong ev­i­dence to sug­gest that women are leav­ing Repub­li­can Party...more are con­test­ing as an in­de­pen­dent or as un­af­fil­i­ated mem­bers.”

Shah at­tributes this po­lit­i­cal trend to two clearly vis­i­ble rea­sons. “Pres­i­dent Trump’s reach out to women sup­port­ers have not been as de­sired and he’s not mo­bilised them enough to be on his side. More­over, his own pro­file, chal­lenged with nearly 20 al­le­ga­tions in per­sonal life, is an­other put-off for women against the Repub­li­cans.”

Adds Ra­jeev (Raj) Goyle, a pop­u­lar young Demo­crat leader from New York who rep­re­sented a Repub­li­can dis­trict in the Kan­sas House and a known In­dian Amer­i­can face: “Un­doubt­edly, the Ka­vanaugh nom­i­na­tion will con­trib­ute to Repub­li­cans los­ing House seats, while in the Sen­ate it may be harder for us (Democrats).”

It works both ways, says Goyle, adding, “While the Ka­vanaugh nom­i­na­tion has mo­ti­vated the Repub­li­cans, mak­ing them em­bold­ened, Trump has also in­spired Demo­cratic en­thu­si­asm and po­lit­i­cal cam­paign mo­men­tum to a record high. In 2020 if the dy­nam­ics are nor­mal and the process isn’t rigged, we Democrats have a great chance to win.”

The de­cider will be women in 2020 as fem­i­nists have started to ques­tion “what’s ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour” in po­lit­i­cal dis­course in ref­er­ence to the “dis­crim­i­na­tion” against Ford, while de­fend­ing Ka­vanaugh in the name of “a young man with ex­em­plary ju­di­cial records”.

Per­haps a po­lit­i­cal anal­y­sis in New Yorker ti­tled, “The po­lit­i­cal af­ter­math of the Sen­ate’s fi­nal Ka­vanaugh vote” sums up the mood build­ing up in the US. Quot­ing a Town Hall gath­er­ing of women in Holyoke, Mass­a­chu­setts, it wrote, quot­ing a lo­cal women leader: “I watched pow­er­ful men help­ing an­other pow­er­ful man…I thought, time’s up… It’s time for women to go to Wash­ing­ton and fix a bro­ken govern­ment, and that in­cludes a woman at the top.”

Seems like women and lib­er­als are gear­ing to take cen­tre stage dur­ing the midterm and 2020 elec­tions to trans­form the pol­i­tics of this coun­try. Per­haps, the cur­rent pub­lic mood says so! Ma­neesh Pandey is Se­nior Ex­ec­u­tive Ed­i­tor of ITV Net­work and cur­rently a Ful­bright Vis­it­ing Pro­fes­sor at Delaware State Uni­ver­sity, United States.


Protesters demon­strate against newly sworn in As­so­ciate Jus­tice Brett Ka­vanaugh at the Supreme Court in Wash­ing­ton DC, US, on Tues­day.

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