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November 06, 1984 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1984-11-06

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E

OPINION

Page 4 Tuesday, November 6, 1984 The Michigan Daily
Goldsmith sees new hope for women

First of two parts
Judy Goldsmith, president of the
250,000-member National Organization
for Women (NOW), became the center of
national attention last summer when
NO W's annual membership conference
passed a resolution favoring a woman vice
president and hinted that NO W delegates
and supporters at the Democratic Conven-
tion would nominate a woman on the floor
if Walter Mondale did not. Goldsmith has
pushed NOW's voter drive that has
registered a quarter of a million new voters
since the first of the year. She has also been
vocal in explaining the "gender gap, " a
recent political phenomenon showing that
women have different voting patterns and
agendas than men. Goldsmith spoke with
Daily Opinion Page editor Jackie Young
about the impact of Rep. Geraldine
Ferraro's candidacy on American women
and the new strategies of feminists in the
'80s.
Dialogue
Daily: What kind of an impact do you think
vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro
will have on the psyches of young American
women? Will more women become interested
in the political process?
Goldsmith: I think the impact is going to be
extremely positive. Young people, young
women, are not a monolith anymore than
women or men are a monolith because we cut
across all demographic lines and categories. So
there's going to be some mix in the response.
But generally, I think the impact of Gerry
Ferraro on their perception of the political
process and their involvement in it is going to
be very positive. There is a wonderful thing
about having someone who has shared your ex-
periences and knows your experiences as a
female and attains that high level a position.
A little incident that happened to my sister
who is running for office in Wisconsin is almost

symbolic of the kind of response women have.
She was going door to door for her campaign
for county office and leaving her brochures. At
one door, she askedfor the woman's con-
sideration for her vote and as Carol was
walking away the woman called after her and
said "Sure, I'll vote for you, you look like our
next vice president." The psychological impact
of that cannot be overestimated. I think that
one of the things that is important to young
people is some sense that politics is going to be
flexible, is not going to be locked into old
traditional ways of doing things. This is cer-
tainly one of the best ways of conveying that
message. This is new, this is different, this is
positive. This is something that says, yes, we
can all be fully included and represented in the
process.
Daily: How important do you think parental
and societal attitudes relating to an in-
dividual's potential can be? For instance, do
you think your own aspirations for your
daughter Rachel have been altered by the
Ferraro nomination?
Goldsmith: No, not really. But then I've
never perceived any limitations for my
daughter. Partly that's because of changes that
we have made, and partly because that's my
daughter. She does not accept barriers and she
gets very irritated when they are there. It's not
so much a matter of thinking of her being able
to achieve a high level position as being able to
do anything, in any area, that she wants to do.
It's not a matter of ambition in the sense that I
want Rachel to become president of the United
States-although I think she'd be an extraor-
dinarily good one. I think, however, that
Rachel's perception of her possibilities has
changed with Ferraro being nominated. There
is, I think generally, in young women con-
siderable pride in the fact that this happened
that is reflected in the way they feel, the way
they act, the way they carry themselves, a new
sense of possibilities for them that wasn't there
before.
Daily: It seems you have a very different
sort of approach to the leadership of NOW than
Betty Friedan, who founded the organization in
the mid-60s. For instance, for the first time in
its history NOW endorsed a presidential can-
didate, Walter Mondale. Must feminists mold
their rhetoric to the changing times? And will
there come a time when you feel the last
barrier has been overcome?
Goldsmith: 1987. No. It's going to take longer
than that. Actually, I think that Betty and I
have a lot in common. But human beings are
individuals so there are differences from per-
son to person. I think we share a lot of values,

Photo by Bruce Hoertel
Judy Goldsmith (far right), president of the National Organization for Women, and other
NOW members rejoice last summer as they watch Rep. Geraldine Ferraro accept Walter
Mondale's nomination of her for his running mate.

realities. And then one possibility we could look
to is a rapidmovement toward passage of the
Equal Rights Amendment because then in-
stead of having the full weight of the ad-
ministration and government against us we
will have it with us and we could look toward a
rapid passage of it in Congress and then to the
ratification in the states. That still is not going
to be a fast process. You have to get 35 states
and it is almost physically impossible to do
that. There are some states that don't even
meet every year. So it's a process that
reasonably you have to look at at least four
years. But another part of that is at the same
time, we are supporting the ticket for election
that has the first woman vice presidential can-
didate on it. We are also working to get more4
women into the state legislative seats as well as
Congress because one of the most dramatic
lessons from the ERA Campaign is that women
legislators support the ERA in vastly greater
numbers than the men do. Their votes are
much more likely to be there for the ERA and
other issues than is the case for men. So that is
a process that takes some time. Women ar
still only 13 percent of state legislators at this
moment. And that's not going to reach 50 per-a
cent in 1984, 1986, or 1988. But it's going to in-4
crease and as the possibilities open for women,
it's going to escalate and it's going to be
geometric. It's not going to be two this year and
two next year and two after that, it's going to be
2 and 8 and 20. But that momentum is building.
And once we make that kind of change in the
legislatures, then the ERA will go through like
greased lightening.
Daily: So the ERA is basically the last battle
for feminists looking beyond November and in'
to the future.,3
Goldsmith: I'd love it if it would be the last
battle. I just don't know. No. What the ERA
does is to give you a tool. Just as winning the
vote constitutionally for black men did not
automatically give it to them, passing the
Equal Rights Amendment will not immediately
give us equality for women. But it is a tool. It
gives us the necessary constitutional clout to
get the laws that are supposed to protect
women against discrimination enforced. But
it may be the last major battle. Maybe.
Tomorrow's Dialogue with Goldsmith
will look at a more personal side of her life
as afeminist leader.

but Betty and I are not the same individual.
Our styles are different and our personalities.
are different.
Yes, to some extent what you say and how
you are perceived changes as the times
change. Some of the things that we said in the
late 1960s that were perceived as incredibly
radical would not attract anyone's attention in
1984. When the movement emerged in the late
'60s and women started articulating some of
these feminist concepts it was very new to a lot
of people. And something that's new always
carries with it some degree of controversy. So
there was certain amount of shock value in
saying for the first time publically that women
should be paid equally for equal work. And that
was perceived as radical initially. Now that has
become like apple pie. It would be very difficult
to find someone on the street, even Phyllis
Schlafly, who would say that women should not
be paid equally for equal work. So there is some
change in the way we address the issues and
there is some change in the way the public
hears it as time goes by.
The other thing is sometimes your tactics

and your strategies change as the situation
evolves. For example, we did not used to be this
focused on political and electoral activity. But
the development of the ERA campaign along
with a lot of other things made us realize that
we could not make significant change through
the legislative process unless we had more
women sitting in those seats and more men to
support our issues. So it forced that focus. We
used to be a lot more legislative than we are
now. Now we are more political. Although the
strategies change, the goals do not change. The
goals are to advance women's issues, to im-
prove conditions for women in this country, to
give them a better, fairer, more equitable op-.
portunity.
Daily: What do you think is next for American
women? Is there another historic first just
around the corner?
Goldsmith: Well, a lot is going to depend on
what happens in November. If Ronald Reagan
is elected, it gives us one set of realities-very
grim set of realities. If Mondale and Ferraro
are elected it gives us an entirely new set of

e mebt Mian
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

A sobering viewof democracy

Vol. XCV, No.53

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board
Understanding hunger

T HE AMERICAN mind is filled with the
political vocabulary of inflation,
deficits, school prayer, and military
budgets. Amidst this rhetoric are often
lost ideas of more fundamental impor-
tance to humanity, such as hunger.
American society is rarely confron-
ted with the enormity or agony of the
problem. Being a wealthy nation, the
starving are shielded from the great
majority. Those who fall through the
national "safety net" become nothing
more than statistics. Few realize that
even in Ann Arbor there are starving
people. Even farther removed are the
huge numbers of hungry in Africa. An
occasional photo or segment on the six
o'clock news is all that serves to
remind us of that continent's suffering.
In Ethiopia in 1974 a famine killed
200,000 people. This year tens of
thousands may be dying and millions
are suffering. Widespread drought has
brought poor harvests and the death of
livestock. Kenya is experiencing the
worst crop in memory. And African
drought and harvest projections for

coming years promise a worsening of
the situation. America and Western
Europe are in the unique position of
being able to alleviate many of these
problems. The resources exist, what is
needed is the collective will to address
the problem. That determination will
come from a recognition of the agony
that millions experience as a result of
hunger.
Several local organizations are at-
tempting to heighten this awareness
and raise funds for the hungry. The
Ann Arbor Committee Concerned with
World Hunger and St. Mary's Student
Chapel have been convincing dorm
residents to give up a meal in order to
help feed the starving as close as Ann
Arbor and as far away as Ethiopia. On
Nov. 14 and 15 the groups will be
sponsoring donations in the fishbowl.
The greatest support that can be
given these groups is the simple but
painful recognition that hundreds of
thousands of human beings are star-
ving. Ultimately, a solution can come
only with such an understanding.

By Brian Leiter
Those not engulfed by the
romanticism that surrounds the
institution of democracy will
quickly come face to face with
the more sobering realities of the
American version: voters are
given a choice between two par-
ties both of which are pro-
capitalism. Some say this merely
reflects the rational and thought-
ful preferences of the electorate.
There are reasons for skepticism
about that claim.
First, all comparably in-
dustrialized nations which con-
front similar problems have a
much broader political spectrum
which includes conservatives and
communists, all of whom occupy
significant places in the public
eye. A serious issue in elections in
these countries is whether it is
desirable to have large-scale
private enterprise independent of
government regulation and/or
control. This is never an issue in
American elections.
SECOND, the media, through
its choice of what to cover and
how to cover it, displays a bias
against non-capitalist perspec-
tives, as well as a tendency to
replace serious analysis with
popular mythology. Andrew
Pulley, Socialist Workers'
presidential candidatge in 1980,
noted that the media covered
Ronald Reagan if he got on a hor-
se; when Pulley spoke to an anti-
draft rally of 5,000 in San Fran-
cisco, it wasn't even mentioned.
Moreover, because the media
for so long has 1) Treated non-
capitalist ideologies as in-
distinguishable from Soviet
communism/totalitarianism; and
2) Portrayed non-capitalist
ideologies as anathema to
freedom, democracy, goodness,
God, etc., the result has been the
creation of prejudicial attitudes
among the electorate and the

freedom for the few) amidst the
perpetuation of poverty, unem-
ployment, and hunger. The vice
presidential candidate for the
Socialists in 1980 was a nun-har-
dly anti-God. The Communist
platform includes proposals for a
national act to provice
recreational and cultural ac-
tivities for young people, strict
enforcement of civil rights
legislation, and nationalization of
the energy industry-something
proposed by Howard Baker a few
years'back!
THIRD, if the left is so out of
touch with what Americans
really want and need (as many
assert), then why is it that much
of the program espoused by the
left during the 1910s,'20s, and'30s
has since become part of the
social and economic agenda of
the country (e.g. Social Security
, Medicaid, regulations concer-
ning worker safety) ? People
were saying the same thing about
the left then, too. The historical
record generates skepticism
about those who too readily
dismiss anti-capitalist positions.
The point of all this is that the
much-touted "choice" that
democracy affords is, in reality,
not much of a choice: the tacit
understanding is that non-
BLOOM COUNTY

capitalist views will be shut out of
funding, media attention, and
discussion. This is nothing to be
proud of.
It is almost taken for granted
today that most voters do not
know what is going on, do not
consider issues, do not under-
stand the impact of policies, and
make their choices for almost
irrational reasons: appearances,
mood, atmosphere, style, etc.
Media commentators remark on
this phenomenon constantly with
a certain resigned non-chalance.
Candidates know this and direct
their campaigns accordingly:
witness the Reagan commercials
which rely entirely on creating a
certain mood; and similarly,
recall how Mondale dragged U.S.
success in the Olympics into the
debates at the most peculiar
moments-clearly an attempt to
capitalize on the atmosphere of
childlike machismo generated by
the Reagan presidency.
Polls reveal the same things:
people are not aware of the
specifics of candidates' positions,
even on crucial matters (e.g. only
20 percent of those who voted for
Reagan in '80 knew his position
on taxes before the election!).
And, of course, anyone in a
university setting can testify to
the very different character of

the discussion of political, social,
and economic issues in the
classroom than exists in th~
public sphere-yet they are both
talking about the same thing.
Moreover, there is no reason to
think that the greater
sophistication of the classroom
discussion wouldn't, in fact, b
useful in resolving the issues of'
the public sphere. Yet such
discussion is far removed from
the capabilities and interests of
most voters.
So what's the point? It is this:
most Americans do not appear tQ
be very knowledgeable-nor do,
they even seem particularly in-
terested in becoming
knowledgeable. So why is it tha
giving them a vote on matter
which require some knowledge
(e.g. arms control, economic'
policy) is considered a merit of
our system? "Knowledge" is not
the magical key to the problems'
that confrontus-but it would
probably help.
I wonder if critics of my
position can do better than to
shout "elitist." The problems are
real but are rarely discussed
Maybe we should start.
Leiter is a graduate student
in law and philosophy.
by Berke Breathed

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The Daily

endorses

the following

candidates

and proposals:

President and Vice President:
Walter Mondale and Geraldine
Ferraro (D)
United States Senate:
rnlT~ain M) ru

Drain Commissioner:
Daniel Bicknell (R)
State Ballot Proposal A:
Vote No

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