By Jennifer Brunner
Everything that I've done in my life -- as a wife, a mother, a small business owner, a judge, and as secretary of state -- has taught me that you can't wait for someone else to fix the problem. And I have a solid record of finding solutions - from the drug court I started as a judge in Franklin County, to the uniformity I implemented in election procedures that affect voting rights, to the technology we put in place at the Secretary of State's office to make it easier for businesses to interact with the state and focus on creating what we really need: Jobs.
We must fix the damage that has been done to our economy. It is felt by everyone in Ohio and it can't measured in some political poll -- it's felt by Ohioans losing their homes, losing their jobs, and facing the rising cost of health care. Now, more than ever, we need someone who will fight for everyone across the state and stand up to those in Washington who would rather bail out Wall Street CEOs than main street homeowners.
We just can't afford to send the same people who got us into this crisis back to Washington.
When I decided to run for Secretary of State after Ohio's election problems in 2004, I left a judgeship in Franklin County where I was doing important work reducing drug crime and recidivism; I knew that we had to restore trust in our elections and fix the damage that was done. After I was elected, I worked to improve the election system by eliminating long lines, implementing smooth and accessible early voting for more than 1.7 million Ohioans, and making sure that Ohio voters had available to them a multitude of ways to vote. That work resulted in a markedly improved election process, with a record number of Ohioans voting, and earned me a Profile in Courage Award from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
I am excited about the work I have done as Secretary of State - but I also see a greater need for principled solutions at the next level. Ohio needs a Senator to work with President Obama and Senator Sherrod Brown in these difficult economic times. Senator Voinovich joined every other Ohio Republican member of Congress when he voted against the president's economic recovery package last week and Ohio's Republican candidate to replace him, Rob Portman, applauded that vote.
Leadership is not about saying "no"; it's about having the humility to listen, the creativity to see opportunities, and the persistence to enact solutions.
We can strengthen our schools for all Ohio's students to compete for 21st century jobs. We can make sure banks spend the bailout money on things that really matter - loans to small businesses and home ownership - not extravagant executive perks. We can create new jobs that improve our communities by generating cleaner energy. We can lower health care costs and make sure that everyone has access to health care. We can strengthen our national security while bringing our troops home safely from Iraq and protecting every American's constitutional rights and liberties. We can work to institutionalize and improve upon best practices for future elections.
Washington doesn't need another Senator who just shows up to vote. Ohio deserves a public servant in Washington who will generate ideas, show bold leadership and work with her colleagues to advance solutions. I am pleased with what we've done for Ohio so far; and I know I can do even more for our state in the United States Senate.
When I announced my candidacy last week, it generated an impressive amount of support on blogs and through people joining our campaign at www.JenniferBrunner.com. On Monday, I was proud to receive the endorsement of Laborers Local #310, a Cleveland affiliate of the Laborers' International Union of North America. We share a common belief in respecting the rights of working men and women, to fair wages, a safe workplace, and a secure future. I look forward to continuing to work with them to make these rights a reality for all Ohioans.
Now I find myself with a Democratic primary opponent. Lee Fisher and I don't agree on everything, but neither of us has any doubt that it would be a lousy idea to send Rob Portman back to Washington DC, where, as a Congressman, he voted for the Bush tax cuts and the Iraq war that are bankrupting our country and where, as George Bush's Budget Director, he watched billions of our taxpayer dollars disappear into the corruption on Wall Street.
I'd like to take this opportunity to say that I will be seeking the support of all Ohio Democrats, regardless of prominence, and as Party Chair Chris Redfearn requested of all of the candidates, I will not ask the Ohio Democratic Party for an endorsement in the primary. I'll make my case directly to the voters, and feel confident that they'll make the right decision about who has the qualities we need to make a difference in Washington.
Over the next weeks and months, I look forward to working with you—and all Ohioans—who are ready to come together to find solutions to the problems we face.
The issues today are too serious for us to be distracted from our goals. Let's keep our focus on beating Rob Portman next November and in the meantime work together to find solutions the problems facing Ohio.
As the future administration takes shape in Washington, D.C., women come to the table with impressive credentials and the backing of national women’s organizations.
Women’s groups are moving on many fronts to seek to affect policies and appointments in the upcoming Obama administration.
A Wiki-Project to put forth names of women for top jobs has been underway almost since the election, spearheaded by Eleanor Smeal of the Feminist Majority as an outgrowth of an idea from the National Council of Women’s Organizations. “It’s now being done electronically,” says Smeal. “We have 20 to 30 [national women’s groups] participating.”
The groups collect resumes, put them on the private website for comment and, at some point, forward those that pass muster to the Obama transition team for specific jobs in the Plum Book, the directory of thousands of jobs throughout an administration. The project is expected to escalate in January.
Five of the 21 cabinet-level positions filled by year-end had gone to women. Key positions in the sub-cabinet rank were yet to be filled, including many that would affect policies on women’s health and safety.
It is clear already that women will be at the top of an Obama administration, in the inner circle. Valerie Jarrett, a longtime personal and political ally of President-elect Barack Obama, will be at his elbow as a senior advisor, for instance.
It also is clear that, unlike earlier transitions, there is a significant “bench strength” of women—not only with good educations but with decades of experience in the top ranks of business, foundations, and government—ready and able to step into a top policy job. That strength is demonstrated by the array of women already chosen for top jobs, including Obama’s fiercest competitor Hillary Clinton as well as major Obama backers such as Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano.
Although Senate hearings may bring out unexpected histories of the women already chosen, it is unlikely that there will be major surprises that would derail the appointments, as happened to women with national reputations chosen by President Bill Clinton in the chaotic first months of his first term.
Governor Bill Richardson has just removed his name from consideration as Commerce secretary, but overall Obama has done a better job of vetting his choices. In terms of the women chosen, they tend to have come from public lives and have therefore already been tested by their years of service.
Women’s groups also are putting forward proposals for policies and programs that could fit into an economic stimulus package.
In addition, there are proposals to create either a presidential commission on women or a cabinet-level office on women.
Coming off of eight years when programs helping women have been curbed sharply, or in some cases left to atrophy financially and politically at the federal level, women’s groups point to a great need for assessment. They want a focus on what must be done next to address not only the continued poverty of women but also their continued exclusion from economic opportunities despite decades of promises of equality.
A West Coast-based coalition called WomenCount is circulating a petition to create a presidential commission on women. It would follow the pattern of the 1961 commission appointed by President John F. Kennedy. His Presidential Commission on the Status of Women, chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, lay the foundations for emerging women’s rights groups such as the National Organization for Women and the Women’s Equity Action League.
The Kennedy commission turned a spotlight on wage disparities that had grown to nearly 40 percent in some jobs and helped push through workplace changes that gave women more traction in pursing opportunities. It also triggered the gathering of extensive government research data on the status of women that was then disseminated by the Women’s Bureau and used extensively over the decades by women’s movement advocates.
Today, the WomenCount petition noted, “the role that women play in our economic structure has never been clearer. Women are the backbone of the nation’s workforce and control 70 percent of its buying power.”
At the same time, the 2008 campaigns exposed many problems, according to the petition. “The candidacies of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, while inspiring women and girls around the country to imagine what can be, exposed extreme gender bias in the media and throughout our culture.”
A presidential commission on women is needed to keep women “at the forefront of our political discourse.”
A separate effort is sponsored by 48 national women’s groups, most of them based on the East Coast, urging creation of a cabinet-level office on to assess and coordinate the many programs and policies that affect women. The office would have a staff and a director who would report directly to the president. Its mandate would be to:
- evaluate federal programs, initiatives and policies for their impact on women (both opportunities and inequities) and suggest ways to improve them;
- take leadership of a reconstituted White House Office for Women’s Initiative and Outreach as well as a restored Interagency Council on Women;
- advocate for women, including women of color, on policies ranging from health care to labor issues to the economy;
- coordinate government-wide women’s initiatives and ensure that agency and departmental policies mesh with “national and international commitments to women”;
- expand and strengthen what had been a Clinton Administration office for women’s initiatives and outreach, both to solicit views of national women’s groups for the administration and to keep those groups posted in administration initiatives;
- communicate not just with state-level Status of Women Commissions but also with UN offices and commissions on women.
Palin, 44, is a self-styled hockey mom and political reformer who has been governor of her state less than two years.
Palin's selection was a stunning surprise, as McCain passed over many other better known prospects, some of whom had been the subject of intense speculation for weeks or months.
At 44, she is a generation younger that Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, who is Barack Obama's running mate on the Democratic ticket.
She is three years Obama's junior, as well — and McCain has made much in recent weeks of Obama's relative lack of experience in foreign policy and defense matters.
Palin flew overnight to an airport in Ohio near Dayton, and even as she awaited her formal introduction, close aides said they had believed she was at home in Alaska.
She is a former mayor of Wasilla who became governor of her state in 2006 after ousting a governor of her own party in a primary and then dispatching a former governor in the general election.
Founder & Executive Editor, The WIP
- USA - Every year this nation’s priorities move further and further away from the concerns of the majority of American citizens, making daily life harder and harder. The prices we pay for housing, utilities, medications, transportation and food are all going up. Meanwhile, big business interests, profiting every time we lose, monopolize our policymakers’ attention. While companies boasting record profits are rewarded with tax breaks, ordinary citizens struggle each day to get basic needs met for themselves and their families.
In 2004 65% of women voted. Despite this high participation rate, the turnout was predominantly married women voters. Twenty million unmarried women stayed home on Election Day. Page Gardener developed Women’s Voices. Women Vote to improve unmarried women's participation in the electorate and policy process. Last month I interviewed her to learn more about the campaign. I found out that marriage is one of the top four determinants in whether women in this country vote. I learned that unmarried women form the fastest growing large bloc of voters. I was told about the unique economic circumstances unifying unmarried women. They earn less, have less health care, and more of their children live in poverty than any other bloc of Americans. I learned that more than ever they are interested in this election. They want change and will be turning out to vote. And Women’s Voices. Women Vote is doing everything they can to make sure this happens. Page Gardener recognizes that 20 million unmarried women not voting – single, divorced, separated or widowed – means there is an important missing voice in our democracy.
According to Gardener, unmarried women are “sick of the way things are going, and they want this country to go in a new direction.” These women feel America is not doing enough about problems on the home front, the problems most significant in their lives. They struggle financially, their lives are difficult, and they want our leaders to make them a national priority. The good news, Gardener finds, is that they are making their voices heard in record numbers at the voting booth. In 2006 they were the largest “change” voters. As their power becomes more evident, it will be harder and harder for policy makers to ignore their calls for adequate housing, healthcare, and other domestic issues affecting them.
While domestic issues are the primary concern of unmarried women voters, like married women, they are incredibly patriotic and concerned about this country. They are concerned about family values, security issues and they mirror the concerns of the total population in many ways. As this population grows, however, it is their unique economic circumstances that set them apart and which creates the huge and growing cohort. “We’ve got this enormous growing demographic group and they have an agenda on their own, they are redefining the electorate, and they are redefining how we should look at America and the public policy agenda of our elected officials,” Gardener told me.
Last week’s caucus in Iowa, according to a January 4 press release, serves as an indication that unmarried women are in fact utilizing their power. Unmarried Women Caucus in Record Numbers, reported that unmarried women did turn out in numbers greater than their overall share of Iowa’s population – a feat only married women used to achieve. “While unmarried women are 22 percent of the eligible voting age population in Iowa, network entrance polls report that they were 28 percent of participants in the Democratic caucus…Married women, by contrast, were in line with their proportion of the overall population, accounting for 29 percent of the eligible population in Iowa, and accounting for 29% of Democratic caucus attendees.” (Statistics from the Republican contest had not yet been released at the time of this press release.) According to Gardener, “The 28% of Iowan women on their own who caucused is the first example of the critical role unmarried women will play in the national discussion, demanding the attention of the Presidential candidates."
Women’s Voices. Women Vote has made the significant discovery that unmarried women are “a surging force in American politics.” Their power is not only in their numbers but also in their unified desire for change. In my conversation with Page Gardner, it came as no surprise to learn that her organization will have successfully registered over a million unmarried women during this election cycle. We can all do our part by joining Women’s Voices. Women Vote’s online campaign “20 million Reasons” and help register unmarried women to vote. Page Gardener also pointed out that it is important for media organizations like The WIP to write about unmarried women in America. “As these women see their lives reflected in the conversation around civic participation through articles in the newspaper, through the media…it is validating and [it] is also motivating. So, the more that we can reflect their lives and say… ‘we know you are out there, we know how powerful you are,’ the better, in terms of getting them to participate.” If unmarried women voted at the same rate as married women, over six million more voters would have gone to the polls in 2004.
Imagine the democracy. Imagine the power.
About The WIP This article is brought to you by The Women's International Perspective, an international online news website written by a global collective of women writers.
About The WIP
This article is brought to you by The Women's International Perspective, an international online news website written by a global collective of women writers.
Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated December 27, 2007 in Rawalpindi, was the first female prime minister of Pakistan and of any Islamic nation. She led Pakistan from 1988 to 1990 and again from 1993 to 1996.
Bhutto, 54, spent eight years in self-imposed exile in Great Britain and Dubai after President Farooq Leghari dismissed her second administration amid accusations of corruption, intimidation of the judiciary, a breakdown of law and order, and undermining the justice system.
She was found guilty of corruption and sentenced to five years in prison. The conviction was later overturned but she remained in exile until this year.
She returned to Pakistan in October after President Pervez Musharraf signed an amnesty lifting corruption charges.
She narrowly escaped injury on October 18 when a suicide bombing near her convoy in Karachi killed 126 people.
"Soon thereafter, I was asked by authorities not to travel in cars with tinted windows -- which protected me from identification by terrorists -- or travel with privately armed guards," she wrote for CNN.com in November.
"I began to feel the net was being tightened around me when police security outside my home in Karachi was reduced, even as I was told that other assassination plots were in the offing."
"I decided not to be holed up in my home, a virtual prisoner," she wrote. "I went to my ancestral village of Larkana to pray at my father's grave. Everywhere, the people rallied around me in a frenzy of joy. I feel humbled by their love and trust."
Musharraf declared a state of emergency and placed Bhutto under house arrest twice in November as anti-government rallies grew in Rawalpindi. The arrest warrant was lifted November 16.
She filed a nomination paper for a parliamentary seat on November 25 and appeared headed for a power showdown with Musharraf before she was assassinated Thursday.
Bhutto was the daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, former president and prime minister of Pakistan, who was hanged in 1979 for the murder of a political opponent two years after he was ousted as prime minister in a military coup.
Her brother, Murtaza, was killed along with six others in a 1996 shootout with police at his home.
--Article from CNN.