RURAL ROUTES/Margot Ford McMillen

Women, Play Your Card Smart

As I remember the rule on voting, you’re supposed to stick with the best option, even if it’s the option to vote against the worst option. Unless, of course, it looks like everyone’s going to vote one way or t’other, making a landslide for somebody, good or bad, in which case you can vote for the one you want. Even the third, fourth, or fifth party.

Here in mid-MO, that rule played out pretty well for the primaries when nearly every Democrat I know took a Republican ballot so they could vote against the baddest boys in the race. The R ballot was a lot more fun, with many more choices. For the Ds, there were a lot of races with nobody running at all! Old Man and I, after consultations, had that all scoped out, but couldn’t quite bring ourselves to pronounce the R-word with conviction, so we wimped out and scored our D list, only smiling when we put a mark next to Chief Wana Dubie for Senate.

Voting’s supposed to be fun, besides being educational, and I’ve been romping around the internet with my woman card, thinking about how to play it. After all, if we’re going to put it down here or there, we ought to get something in return.

The Woman Card, you might remember, was explained out by King Comb-Over back in April, when he won five primaries and spoke about Hillary Clinton, saying “Well, I think the only card she’s got is the woman’s card … she’s got nothing else going ...” His speech created a windfall of contributions for Hillary. Before the ink was dry on the outrage, Hillary’s campaign was flooded with donations, which we might guess were mostly from women. Hillary’s people immediately designed a pink card, sort of like a credit card, using the slogans “Deal me in” and “Congratulations! You’re in the majority!”

Trump’s disparaging remarks haven’t resulted in similar windfalls for, say Green Party’s Jill Stein or any of the other women running for offices, but, hey, there’s still time!

So what should women ask for in this election? We can make a pretty good list without too much trouble.

Let’s start by demanding passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. It goes like this: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex.” Pretty simple. In 1972, it passed the US House and Senate but is still three states short of ratification. That means that women do not have a constitutional guarantee to equal treatment for such things as jobs, education or civil rights. It only takes a little imagination to see that women’s rights to vote could be hampered without the ERA. Here in Missouri, a recurring theme at the legislature are bills that require extra tests for voters … that’s right, voting requirements are decided by the states, not the feds.

Already, in my state, you can’t vote if you have committed certain types of crimes. It seems impossible to imagine a time when voting is restricted because of gender, but there could be other tests. We may become one of the states that requires a photo ID. Stranger things have happened.

Passage of the ERA would forbid discrimination on the basis of gender in jobs and housing as well. There’s talk of giving equal rights in the constitution to the LGBTQ community, so let’s put ordinary straight women on the same path to success.

Next on the woman agenda would come the right to equal pay. According to the National Women’s Law Center, women make 79 cents for every dollar paid to men in the same jobs. For Latina or black women, the story is worse. Compared to a white, non-hispanic man’s wages, Latinas earn 55 cents and black women 64 cents. Every year, women can mark a day in late August or early September when men have earned as much as women during the whole year. That’s right! On that day, dear lady, the dude sitting next to you could knock it off, having banked as much as you’ll make by Dec. 31. This pay discrepancy is so bad that in some offices it’s illegal to ask how much your co-workers earn! What a crock!

And, before we forget, let’s ask for more attention to survival of the planet. After the flooding in Louisiana, even the doubters in mid-MO are talking about climate change and rising sea levels and highest temps on record. There’s no doubt that carbon sequestration is one of the keys, but we’ve chopped down all the forests to plant corn and soybeans. Fuel, you know. And bacon.

And how about programs that will help kids? The Woman Card ought to be good for that.

Let’s make some deals and get something for those donations.

Margot Ford McMillen farms near Fulton, Mo., and co-hosts Farm and Fiddle on sustainable ag issues on KOPN 89.5 FM in Columbia, Mo. Email:

From The Progressive Populist, September 15, 2016

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