Trump gives us a new Year of the Woman

The Modesto Bee - - Opinion - BY JEN­NIFER RU­BIN

No, the Year of the Woman was not hype. The elec­tion re­turns pro­vide am­ple rea­son for those work­ing to shift the gen­der balance in pol­i­tics to cel­e­brate. Con­sider:

Of their seven gu­ber­na­to­rial pick­ups, four of the Demo­cratic win­ners were women.

The only Demo­cratic Se­nate can­di­date to pick up a seat was a woman, Sen.-elect Jacky Rosen of Ne­vada.

Women will hold at least 96 seats in the House, a record; at least 23 mem­bers of the U.S. Se­nate and nine gover­nors will be women.

Over­all, at least 117 women have been elected as House mem­bers, se­na­tors or gover­nors.

It’s not sim­ply that women won, but women en­tirely new to pol­i­tics and/or run­ning to be the “first” won (e.g., an African-Amer­i­can House mem­ber from Mas­sachusetts, two Na­tive Amer­i­can women, a fe­male gover­nor in Maine). A num­ber of the big wins were by women who had served in the mil­i­tary or in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity — one pow­er­ful rea­son for fully in­te­grat­ing women into th­ese av­enues of pub­lic ser­vice. Th­ese in­clude former CIA op­er­a­tive Abi­gail Span­berger of Vir­ginia; Elissa Slotkin, an Iraq War vet­eran from Michi­gan; former Navy com­man­der Elaine Luria of Vir­ginia; and former Navy he­li­copter pi­lot Mikie Sher­rill from New Jersey.

While the vast ma­jor­ity were Democrats, Repub­li­can women broke through to win the gov­er­nor­ship in South Dakota and a Se­nate seat from Ten­nessee.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump pro­voked a lot of women to march, to run, to give to po­lit­i­cal causes and to vote for Democrats. Whether it was his bul­ly­ing or his racism or his sup­port for al­leged child mo­lester Roy Moore or his own pay­offs to ac­cusers or his non­stop stream of in­sults, a whole lot of women de­cided, rather than to stew, to get into the fray.

This was about women in the sub­urbs shift­ing their sup­port from Re­pub­li­cans to Democrats.

Ab­sorb­ing the con­stant sting of Trump’s ver­bal ar­rows, women did not “get over” Trump’s elec­tion or learn to live with his se­rial af­fronts. They did not take kindly to his mock­ing of the #MeToo move­ment or of Chris­tine Blasey Ford. It’s fair to say women who would not other­wise have got­ten po­lit­i­cally in­volved did so be­cause they could see the mostly male po­lit­i­cal pow­ers were not look­ing af­ter their in­ter­ests.

So they marched, or­ga­nized, be­came donors, ran for of­fice, made new al­liances and “per­sisted,” as Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, R-Ky., com­plained when Sen. Eliz­a­beth War­ren, DMass., re­fused to sit down and be quiet as in­structed.

One should take a step back to ap­pre­ci­ate that for all Trump’s as­saults on the rule of law, at­tacks on demo­cratic norms, at­tempts to in­tim­i­date the me­dia and to un­der­mine ob­jec­tive re­al­ity, his an­tidemo­cratic ac­tions were met with an out­pour­ing of demo­cratic ac­tivism. Th­ese were the peo­ple who felt most ag­grieved.

Yes, plenty of men also or­ga­nized and ran for of­fice, etc. But it was the women who had bro­ken bar­ri­ers in the mil­i­tary and per­se­vered as im­mi­grants or who had never dreamed of a po­lit­i­cal ca­reer. That they jumped into the fray — many for the first time — says much about the vi­tal­ity of our democ­racy and the abil­ity of women to cre­atively or­ga­nize out­side con­ven­tional net­works.

Once seated, th­ese women might be­have dif­fer­ently than their male coun­ter­parts or even women who arose in gen­er­a­tions passed. They haven’t spent their adult lives in par­ti­san trenches, so they might be will­ing to reach across the aisle. If so, the coun­try will be in their debt. In any event, the Trump era might have re­vived our par­tic­i­pa­tory democ­racy — and given it a new, de­cid­edly fe­male pro­file.

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