My Turn

Opinion: Qualified women running for local elections

“Backwards and in high heels”

By Robert J. Silver
Posted 5/30/20

Girls are just naturally smarter than boys, I’d concluded back in grade school many years ago. I had long watched, as girls most always got the highest grades on tests and other assignments. Of …

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My Turn

Opinion: Qualified women running for local elections

“Backwards and in high heels”

Posted

Girls are just naturally smarter than boys, I’d concluded back in grade school many years ago. I had long watched, as girls most always got the highest grades on tests and other assignments. Of course they get all the good grades, I thought. They are girls. As unfair as it felt, I was certain they were simply smarter than us boys.

Several years later and solidly into adolescence, I came to the opposite judgment. Testosterone at levee topping levels, we boys felt as if we were masters of the universe. I thought then that we were actually the fundamentally smarter ones. 

Now, well into my senior years, I believe I may very well have had it right the first time—girls being basically smarter.

While questions of gender related intellectual superiority may never be finally resolved, women seem manifestly different. They not only look different, they may think differently, work differently, talk differently, achieve differently, and more. Could it be a mere accident that female heads of state world-wide, as contrasted with their male counterparts, have been stunningly more effective and successful in combating the Covid19 virus? I think not.

That said, the near total absence of women in local elective governing office appears all the more startling and unacceptable. Indeed, the five-member Taos County Board of Commissioners contains precisely one lone female member. The Taos Council has none. How do we justify our local governing bodies bearing so little resemblance to our electorate especially in a community that is so much about the recognition and celebration of diversity? 

Fortunately, the current Democratic primary contest includes three smart, strong, independent, competent, progressive women candidates: Kristina Ortez (New Mexico House of Representatives District 42), AnJanette Brush (Taos County Board of Commissioners District 4), and Darlene Vigil (Taos County Board of Commissioners District 3). Isn’t it well past time to welcome these outstanding women and many more like them into what has pretty much historically been exclusively a men’s club? Billy Knight was on target a few weeks ago in calling for more women in leadership roles (Taos News, April 2020, “It’s time for more women in leadership”). 

There is little need to question the political and policy competency of women. But just in case there are doubters, let’s recall one shining historic example. The inspired creation of American Social Security, arguably the most cherished and effective of all American domestic government programs, is associated with Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In fact, it was the invention of Frances Perkins, the first woman named to a U.S. President's cabinet, whose vision, intelligence, and determination ultimately persuaded Roosevelt and the Congress that this was an idea whose time had come. But then again, the boss (often a man) usually gets all the credit.

Fast forward to the present time. The most inspiring political event l have witnessed in ages comes to mind. In the closing days of the 2018-2019 New Mexico legislative session, I had come to Santa Fe, along with members of my church congregation, to join with people of other communities of faith from all over New Mexico. Despite our disparate theologies, we stood as one, united in statement of conscience, there to witness and support the massive youth protest of environmental degradation by extraction industries. 

Among the speeches to the crowd of young people seated in the capitol rotunda, one in particular stood out. It was a compelling, intelligent, articulate, eloquent statement of truth to power, flawlessly delivered by a little red-haired nine-year-old girl. That’s right, a nine year old girl!

It seems clear that most of the untapped political talent, and our best-case local and national futures, rest with women candidates for office. Their time has come. I urge you to vote for Kristina Ortez, AnJanette Brush, and Darlene Vigil in the upcoming Democratic primary not simply because they are women. They deserve your vote because they are competent, talented, imaginative, effective, committed, and much more. The fact that they are women is simply a bonus. 

The remark sometimes attributed to Hollywood’s Ginger Rogers that she did everything her partner Fred Astaire did, but “backwards and in high heels,” seems apt characterization of the added difficulties placed in the paths of women candidates seeking elective office. To my thinking, a 2020 trifecta of elected local women would be a hopeful and inspired breath of political and cultural fresh air. Let’s do it!

Robert J Silver lives in Taos.

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