In our last blog post, we reminded voters in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District that the candidate in the DFL Primary endorsed by the National NOW Political Action Committee was former state senator Tarryl Clark. This announcement got a bit of attention on our Facebook page, where a few commenters noted (more than once) that they would be voting for the candidate endorsed by the DFL Party instead. This post is not to pick a fight with someone else’s heartfelt opinion; rather, it is meant to remind our membership and the community just what an endorsement from NOW, either at the state or national level, really means.
Our chapter Vice President, though she is deeply involved in party politics, likes to wear a button that reads “Women are not born Democrat, Republican, or yesterday.” We at NOW feel strongly that women’s issues are non-partisan. There should be an across-the-board consensus that violence against women is a bad thing, right? RIGHT?!
Even highly charged social issues were once outside the purview of partisan politics. The Republican Party was the first to put support for the Equal Rights Amendment in its platform, and former First Lady Betty Ford was an ardent supporter–while her husband was in office!
Minnesota NOW’s care values haven’t changed since Mrs. Ford wore this button. They are:
- Constitutional equality (that means both a state and federal ERA!)
- Reproductive rights, including repeal of all laws restricting abortion access
- Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights
- Eliminating racism
- Freedom from violence
- Economic justice, including opposition to punitive welfare reform
If today there is a perception that NOW is too closely aligned with one party over another, that fault can only lie with the parties themselves. Our values have remained consistent–have theirs?
It’s also very important to remember is that while one party might appear to have the edge with NOW, said party members never get a free pass. The aforementioned primary involved the seat in Congress once occupied by Democrat Jim Oberstar, one of the architects of the horrific Hyde Amendment, which has banned federal funding for abortion services since 1977. It’s argued that Hyde has done more to restrict abortion access in this country than any other piece of legislation (a piece by Dr. LeRoy Carhart for RH Reality Check on being a witness to the harmful effects of Hyde can be read here). Did NOW ever endorse Rep. Oberstar? What do YOU think?
And lest we forget, Minnesota NOW also endorses third-party candidates, like Green candidate Farheen Hakeem. Any candidate from any party is invited to submit a completed candidate questionnaire to our Political Action Committee. ANY candidate, ANY party.
But be warned: we’re very picky. And while we may compromise on where we hold meetings and whose turn it is to bring donuts, we NEVER compromise our principles.