White Men Cant’ Jump: Part Two: The Revolution Has Been Televised.

Good morning,

So, imagine my amazement, and great satisfaction, when I read this column in Sunday’s edition of the Benton Harbor/St. Joseph, Michigan Herald-Palladium newspaper.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/17/AR2009071702438.html

I never thought I’d say it, but Kathleen Parker nails-it:

“Senators also hammered Sotomayor about her ethnic identification and whether she could rule fairly without undue influence from her gender or political preferences. Wait, let me guess, you’re white guys! [sic] Are we to infer that men of European descent are never unduly influenced by their own ethnicity, gender or political preferences: Can anyone affirm this assertion with a straight face?”

Then, returning back to Chicago to my Sunday New York Times, I read this powerful Frank Rich column: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/19/opinion/19rich.html?_r=1&ref=opinion

With apologies to Gibbon, here’s Frank Rich on Parker’s point about the decline and fall of an empire–in this case, the every-day-white-guy American one–as crystallized in the very bad behavior last week in that empire’s most exclusive bastion, the U.S. Senate:

“Yet the Sotomayor show was still rich in historical significance. Someday we may regard it as we do those final, frozen tableaus of Pompeii. It offered a vivid snapshot of what Washington looked like when clueless ancien-regime conservatives [read: “every-day white guys”] were feebly clinging to their last levers of power, blissfully oblivious to the new America that was crashing down on their heads and reducing their antics to a sideshow as ridiculous as it was obsolescent.”

During another time of American revolution, Gil Scott Heron said: “The revolution will not be televised*,” meaning that those who sought change would have to get-up, get-out, and fight for it. But, last week, it was.

Heron’s poem also included this line: “The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat*.”

The driver’s seat, indeed. Last week, Sonia Sotomayor, a Nuyorican girl from the Bronx, was in the driver’s seat, leaving the “every-day white guys” in the dust, running scared. Running-scared because they are now a minority in America; in fact, men are in the minority.** A scary proposition, indeed.

In addition to everything else Judge Sotomayor stands for: the benefits of hard work; the value of studying and getting a good education, no matter the barriers; the incalculable value of a visionary-mother; and the power of a relentless commitment to excellence, Judge Sotomayor symbolizes the next phase of our American Revolution: the phase when women will be in drivers’ seats, all-over-the-place.

In her brilliant column, Kathleen Parker points-out that last-week’s Senators, bewilderingly, still think they are in the driver’s seat. Why? Because they still think, despite all evidence to the contrary, that they are not “different” from anyone–others are different from them–so their decisions are not influenced by their sex or background, making them, in their view, most fit to be our drivers. Methinks they will rue the day they didn’t get it.

And last-week’s, if possible, even more explosive subtext was seeing–so baldly–these “every-day white guys,” who have held back minority women–just because they have had the power to do so–fearing minority women will return the favor. They desperately wanted assurances this won’t happen, so they imputed to Sonia Sotomayor, of all people, their own bad behavior.

Here’s an idea for a new organization: the 51%** Club, a club that any woman could join, pro-choice or not, pro-ERA or not, pro-Title IX or not. For, when all is said and done, we women, (51% of the population in 2000**), are more alike than we are different. As Kathleen Parker’s column makes clear, we are of common-mind about what we saw on last week’s television; we share the same fundamental concerns about this (unequal) world of ours.

If we organized across the conventional political lines that too-frequently separate us, there wouldn’t be, say, a court in which woman wouldn’t be the majority, an election we couldn’t win, a corporation we couldn’t convince to promote women to positions of real power, or, indeed, a world, this world, that we wouldn’t have changed for the (way) better.

Rebecca

*”The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” a poem and song by Gil Scott Heron, first recorded in 1970 on his album: Small Talk at 125th and Lenox.

**http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/p20-544.pdf, http://www.census.gov/popest/national/asrh/NC-EST2005/NC-EST2005-01.xls

A Woman’s Nation

Three cheers for Maria Shriver and John Podesta for launching “A Woman’s Nation,” a Center for American Progress project to explore American women’s current status and opportunities. Go to http://www.americanprogress.org for more information.

But how do we get there from here? Here’s my (first) take on what it will take. This take focuses on lessons women seeking public office need to bear-in-mind.

“Be careful what you wish for”: As Caroline Kennedy’s recent experience teaches us, choose carefully lest you get tripped-up by the belief that all public service is equal in steeling one for the rigors of public scrutiny.

“Make no small plans”: As the Presidential election made clear, think big, and then move early and quickly, for day-to-day voting, fundraising and media exposure tar all and tar quickly.

“All politics is local”: Louisiana U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu’s recent re-election, in her ever-so-conservative state, suggests that creating an organizing plan–and compelling messages–for every single precinct— whether that precinct is defined by geography, demography, issue-interests, or any other measure that induces a crowd of potential voters to gather, can put one over-the-top in what otherwise looks like a very difficult situation.

“We don’t want nobody nobody sent”: Minnesota’s senior(and still only) U.S. Senator, Amy Klobuchar, spent years building her public policy and electoral experience. Now, by almost any measure, beginning with one created by the New York Times, Senator Klobuchar is on the short list of women who might become President one day.

For the numbers, go to:

Celinda Lake’s recent article in Women’s E-News,
http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm?aid=3938
, and to

Rutger’s Center for American Women and Poltics: http://www.cawp.org.

Rebecca Sive