2018年3月22日 星期四

RCP Morning Note, 03/22/2018: Troubling Signs; Donald and Larry; 'Minimizing' Strategy; Pushing the ERA


Carl Cannon's Morning Note

Troubling Signs; Donald and Larry; 'Minimizing' Strategy; Pushing the ERA

By Carl M. Cannon on Mar 22, 2018 09:59 am

Good morning, it's Thursday, March 22, 2018. Forty-six years ago today, the United States Senate approved the Equal Rights Amendment on a vote of 84-8. The dwindling pockets of opposition, consisting in the Senate of six Republicans and two Southern Democrats, seemed to point out the future's path.

The House of Representatives had already passed the amendment, which was favored by huge majorities in both parties, and when the Senate vote was tallied the gallery burst into spontaneous applause.

Indiana's Birch Bayh, the upper chamber's leading proponent, predicted swift passage, and as if following his cue, only 30 minutes later Hawaii became the first of the 38 states needed for ratification.

But things aren't always what they appear to be in politics. We'll revisit the fight over the ERA -- and the extraordinary congresswoman who led that fight -- in a moment. First, I'd point you to RealClearPolitics' front page, which presents our poll averages, videos, breaking news stories, and aggregated opinion columns spanning the political spectrum. We also offer original material from our own reporters and contributors, including the following:

* * *

Trump and Women, Independents. David Brady and Brett Parker have this analysis of polling data from the past year-plus.

The Donald, the Larry & the Art of Communication. Steve Cortes hails the appointment of pro-growth evangelist Larry Kudlow as the president's chief economic adviser.

Achieve More for Israel and Palestinians by Seeking Less. Peter Berkowitz spotlights a proposal to manage tensions by minimizing -- rather than trying to solve -- divisive issues.

Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, and the Russians. RealClearMarkets editor John Tamny is skeptical of the narrative that the dysfunctional Trump campaign benefited from a sophisticated data-mining operation.

The Structural Roots of Budget Dysfunction. In RealClearPolicy, James C. Capretta details how the process came to be and what can be done to fix it.

Technology Can Help Solve the Opioid Crisis. Scott Whitaker explains in RealClearHealth.

The Art of Jeff Goldblum. In RealClearLife, Adams interviews the actor, who voices a role in the new stop-motion animated film by Wes Anderson.

* * *

Through most of this nation's history, the great issue of women's rights was not primarily a partisan struggle. Susan B. Anthony first voted -- illegally, of course -- for a Republican president. It was the GOP that included an equal rights plank in its quadrennial platform from 1940 to 1980 and Dwight Eisenhower was the first president to call for passage of the amendment. And, though Michigan Rep. Martha W. Griffiths, the "mother of the Equal Rights Amendment," was a Democrat, so were the Southerners she had to outwork and outwit with a combination of hustle and sharp parliamentary maneuvers.

Although the 19th Amendment had granted women the right to vote in 1920, Alice Paul, one of the heroines of that lengthy struggle, argued that it wasn't enough. In 1923, she proposed a more sweeping declaration of equal rights. It read this way: "Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."

This was succinct and quite straightforward, but by the late 1960s, feminist proponents had streamlined it even more. The version passed by the House of Representatives under the guiding hand of Martha Griffiths read simply: "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex."

Griffiths was elected in 1954 on the strength of energetic retail politicking in her Detroit congressional district. The Democratic Party establishment and organized labor backed other candidates, but she prevailed by traversing the district in an RV and meeting tens of thousands of voters personally -- many receiving refreshments served by the candidate herself.

The Democratic leadership in the House didn't realize right away what they had in Griffiths: She was assigned to chair the Select Committee on the House Beauty Shop, which she did without complaint. But Griffiths was a lawyer and had been a judge, and she carved out a niche for herself in Congress exposing sexism in the workplace.

During one hearing, she blistered a personnel official from a major airline that had recently sacked a flight attendant on the basis of her impending marriage. "You point out that you are asking a bona fide occupational exception that a stewardess be young, attractive, and single," she said to the man. "What are you running, an airline or a whorehouse?"

She introduced a version of the ERA every year from 1955 onward, only to see it bottled up in committee, but in the summer of 1970 she'd finally wrangled the 218 votes necessary for what is called a "discharge petition" to bring it to the floor.

There, she showed savvy by sidestepping Southern Democrats' reservations and recast the debate in a way all House members could relate to: She made it about separation of powers -- taking direct aim at a federal bench that had theretofore been slow to apply discrimination law to women.

"Mr. Speaker, this is not a battle between the sexes -- nor a battle between this body and women," she told her colleagues. "This is a battle with the Supreme Court of the United States." This argument proved effective. With some five dozen members abstaining, the House passed the ERA, 352-15.

The Senate followed suit on March 22, 1972.

The states were given seven years to pass it, and at first it didn't seem like it would take even two. By the end of 1973, 29 states had followed Hawaii's lead. But the culture wars had touched American politics. Feminism began to be perceived along ideological, geographical -- and, most ominously for the ERA -- partisan lines.

You could almost pinpoint when and where it happened. Nebraska ratified the ERA a week after it passed Congress, but its unicameral legislature voted to rescind ratification a year later. Tennessee lawmakers, who had ratified in early April of 1972, voted for rescission two years later. Kentucky, South Dakota, and Idaho followed suit.

By 1979, the number of states that ratified it became stuck at 35. In nine of the 15 states that had not ratified, the ERA had passed in one branch of the legislature, but not the other. For proponents, this was maddeningly close, but it was not to be. President Carter signed legislation extending the deadline, but the ERA fizzled out, barely short of its goal.

It is still introduced in Congress every year, but in the 46 years since it passed Congress, time did not stand still. In the waning days of the 20th century, the number of women in the United States receiving college degrees equaled, and then surpassed, the number of men doing so.

These gains were soon reflected in the marketplace. Although male physicians in this country still significantly outnumber female doctors, to use one example, this gap is closing rapidly and inevitably, as one can see when looking at how women have achieved near-parity in the nation's medical schools.

Change hasn't come as quickly in politics, but it has come. Martha Griffiths, the first woman to sit on the House Ways and Means Committee, was one of 16 women in the House in the 84th Congress -- when only one woman, Margaret Chase Smith, served in the Senate.

Today, 22 women serve in the Senate, along with 83 female House members.

Is it enough? A nation stung by recent revelations of vast workplace sexual harassment in Hollywood, Silicon Valley, the media -- and Congress itself -- show that many men haven't progressed much beyond where they were when Martha Griffiths shamed the airlines' brass.

This is one of the underlying themes in the 2018 midterm elections already unfolding this year.

At the same time, it can be argued that women in this country have convincingly won the argument, and that the abuses highlighted by the #MeToo movement are dying vestiges of the old order.

Even American men who once resisted giving up their preferred status turn out to have wives, sisters, and daughters that they want to succeed -- and who have succeeded regardless. On a personal note, the author of this daily missive has a daughter born on this very date, March 22, who has the advanced degree her father lacks. She is an educator, and if I may say so, a terrific one. Like most American men, her success fills me with pride -- as well as hope for the future.

Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics
@CarlCannon (Twitter)

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