May 2, 2007

Reverse sexism?

The Democratic Women's Caucus endorsed former Green Party activist Isabel Piedmont for City Council in the contested District 5 primary. This isn't surprising. Don Moore, husband of Bloomington City Clerk and DWC founder Regina Moore, wrote on a local forum that the DWC "exists to meliorate a problem that you recognize--the underrepresentation by gender." (sic)

I disagree with sex being the primary criteria, because in my opinion qualifications and ideas are much more important than sex. For a Democrat, which candidate is best prepared to lead Bloomington in a "progressive" way? Which candidate is most informed on the issues? Which candidate is closest to your ideological viewpoint? Which candidate has the best chance of beating Republican candidate Alicia Graves in the November election?

There is only one female Democrat on the City Council. What is the proper quota for the number of women on the nine-member City Council? Four? Five? Should there also be a progressive black caucus, a progressive Hispanic caucus or a progressive homosexual caucus to ensure that blacks, Hispanics and homosexuals are also represented on the City Council?

It seems hypocritical that a party supposedly committed to equality would be making a decision based on sex rather than on qualifications. City Republicans are advocating that their female candidate be elected not based on their sex, but based on their ideas and experience. In fact, the local GOP has a record of electing women to both policy-making and administrative positions in county government.

There may be one litmus test for the DWC, though. Regina Moore told the Bloomington Alternative last fall that "I donít think we would endorse someone who was not pro choice." I guess that leaves out Peggy Welch who was elected as a state representative from District 60 in 1998 and won re-election by a large margin in 2000, 2002 and 2004. No Republican even bothered to run against her last year. Would the DWC endorse a "pro-choice" woman who challenged Welch in the primary?

While some have criticized the DWC for endorsing a former Green, I think this is a smart move. The Democrats suffered a difficult loss in 2002 when Green Party candidate Julie Roberts caused Bill Hayden to lose his race for Monroe County Council. The Democrats have apparently recognized the potential in some of the highly motivated Green Party activists. I wish the local Republican Party would be more welcoming to local Libertarians, as the Democrats have been with the Greens. I think some local Libertarians have a lot to offer the GOP if they were embraced rather than shunned.