It’s no secret that I was immensely excited to vote for my first female presidential candidate back in 2016. It was the only race on my mail-in ballot that I didn’t let my daughter fill in for me. That box was one that I, personally, wanted to fill in.
Here we are, three years later, and the memory of that day still burns. With less than a year to go to the 2020 election, I find myself interested in quite a few of our Democratic candidates, but I know myself well enough that if our eventual candidate is a woman, I will be extra excited to turn out the vote for her.
Earlier this year, I was listening to the Two Broads Talking Politics podcasts on female presidential candidates, to learn more about them. Kelly Pollock, co-hosted these episodes with Rebecca Sive and said these were part of the “Vote Her In” series. Curious, I went back through some old episodes and found the original one with Sive, who it turns out, is the author of the book Vote Her In.
What I heard on that episode thrilled me. I, like her, very much wanted to see a female president. But what she opened my eyes to, was just how important it is for the country for that to happen.
Sive was kind enough to send me a copy of her book and today, I am excited to tell you more about it.
Vote Her In
Sive is a community organizer and has a long history of advocating for women in business, politics, academia, you name it, and it shows. The first section of the book is full of information about the work that feminists have done since the age of the suffragettes, and what it has meant to NOT have a woman be president yet.
“This book contends that the very best strategy for creating a land of equal opportunity and justice for all is electing our first woman president, and that Madam President will improve every woman’s life because the cornerstone of our democracy is its commitment to fairness and equality for all. Further, when a woman is POTUS, no one will be able to plausibly argue that women are unqualified to hold executive positions.”
We know that having more women in office affects the funding that certain issues get. For example, Sive points out that female congressfolk have secured 9% more funding than their male counterparts for family and children’s issues. I think about our current tragedy happening at the southern border–would children be separated from their parents if we had more women in Congress and the White House?
Sive is also a gifted storyteller, like in the chapter where she talks about Shirley Chisholm, the first female African-American congresswoman who ran for the 1972 Democratic party nomination for president. Following the campaign, Chisholm remarked, “When I ran for the Congress, when I ran for president, I met more discrimination as a woman than for being black. Men are men.”
Sive looks back on examples of women organizing and what it took to win. I found myself inspired reading their stories, and so when I read a line like “women en masse can change the system,” I wanted to jump right up and take action.
One detail that I appreciated about the book’s design was that Sive features messages from protest signs from the original Women’s March on the first page of each new chapter. “I will not go quietly back to the 1950s.” “I am not free while any woman is unfree.” “They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.”
Sive doesn’t gloss over the difficulty of the task of electing our first woman POTUS. As one example, she points out how the current system disadvantages women right from the get-go. “Because only 25 percent of women are in the upper ranks of big companies, they have much less of a chance of becoming self-funding political candidates than men do, thereby making the pool of such women who might consider running for office much smaller.”
Section 1 concludes with Sive considering the part she, and by extension all of us reading her book, is playing in our country’s history. She draws inspiration and energy from those who have come before her:
“Addie L. Wyatt and Florence Scala [w]ere born about a century ago, and both were committed to fighting for women’s political power and equality. I met them when I was in my twenties, around the time when Unbought and Unbossed, Shirley Chisholm’s autobiography, had become my bible. I remember thinking that if Chisholm, Wyatt, and Scala could be unbought and unbossed, if they could rise up when they were pushed down, why, then so could I.”
Section 2 of the book is all about taking action. Regular readers of Political Charge will know I mean it when I say that one detail about Sive’s book that I love, like, really love, is that each chapter concludes with a short checklist of actions you can personally take.
But first, Sive issues an important warning: “As you undertake these actions, please don’t get distracted or discouraged by all the challenges we faced the last time we campaigned to elect Madam President.”
The actions are organized by the following themes: Unite, Name the Enemy, Speak, Connect, Resist, Fight, Believe, Educate, Write, Litigate, and Elect Yourself.
Again, the chapters themselves are very short. But they are compelling and do offer practical advice on what we can each do, that when bundled with millions of other women joining us, can change the future.
Sive finishes the book with this:
“[O]ur movement needs a patriarchy-smashing focus if it is to matter forever, not just for another “Year of the Woman.” We’ve had enough of those. It’s time for a century of women. And then another. And another. I contend that the patriarchy-smashing focus we need is a wholehearted campaign to elect a woman president. Let’s get started.“
Where To Get the Book
Of course, the book is available at Amazon: Vote Her In
But you can also get it from Women and Children First, one of the few remaining feminist bookstores in America: Vote Her In
Note that the book is also available as an e-book, audio book or in CD format.