Monday August 29, 2016
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I read a letter to the editor a few days ago. It was written well enough, though it was rather insulting to the people who currently represent us in Congress, but its point of view favored an insupportable concept -- election quotas.
The writer pointed out that half our population here in Arizona is female, and then said, "...it seems ironic and strange as to why we have no females in our United States congressional delegation."
I see no reason why that should seem strange, and it certainly isn't ironic since there is no irony involved. It would be ironic if the state were--say--75% female and there were no elected females, but as it stands there's nothing ironic about the numbers, or strange about them either.
It's an accepted fact that many women opt out of certain careers, one of them being politics, because they interfere with marriage. The same is true of the military, and several other careers that are wide open to women. And many women choose to simply be a wife to their husband and a mother to their children. To me, that is a choice which deserves at least as much respect and applause as any other, perhaps even more because it is by no means an easy life. In any event, choosing to give politics a pass is a perfectly natural, and entirely voluntary, choice.
The result is what I have seen all my life. Back when I was young Congress usually sported either one women senator or none at all, and only something like 6 to 8 reps. And that changed very little for a long time, staying the range of--I'm just estimating here--8 to 10 women in all of Congress until very recently, and I would say it is only about double that now.
I happen to know because I did some research after 2010 elections for a string I put up, that 35% of states have no women in the House, and that the same percentage of states have no women in the Senate. So what's so unusual about Arizona? That's one out of every three states. And unless I am slipping I believe I read at the time I did the research that 6 or 7 states have NEVER elected a woman to the House. I don't know about the Senate.
I also have to point out that unless the writer of the letter can demonstrate that vote-rigging or some other type of improper activity has taken place, the people sent to Congress by Arizona were elected by the voters of Arizona.
What really troubles me about the letter is its tone, which suggests that we set aside the fundamental tenet that we elect the person we prefer, refusing to allow race, color, creed, or sex to be used as a basis for political choice making. Basically, the letter says we should get a female elected just to get a female elected. That means using quotas to decide who gets what job.
I'm sorry, but however short of being perfect we may be at times, that suggestion is impermissible.
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