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After March, More Women Ready to Run for Office

After March, More Women Ready to Run for Office
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More women may be running for elected office in the United States as a result of the Women’s March on Washington.

The march in the U.S. capital took place one day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

“I never thought about running for office before,” said Lisa Perry of Florida. “All those women inspired me.”

Perry is considering running for city council, a local office, where she lives in the southern state of Florida. She and Theresa Darlington helped organize residents from their Florida community for the Women’s March on Washington.

Those taking part filled three buses.

The two women supported Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, for president. Both were upset and worried after Republican Donald Trump defeated Clinton in the election.

But they were inspired to see so many women opposing Trump’s policies. An estimated 500,000 people took part in the march.

Both women are angry that Trump is ending some of former President Barack Obama’s policies on the environment, immigration and health care.

“I want to do whatever I can to be most effective and that might mean running for office,” Perry said.

Theresa Darlington, left, and Lisa Perry.
Theresa Darlington, left, and Lisa Perry.

Angry people are active

Carrie Almond, president of the National Federation of Republican Women, agrees angry people are more likely to get involved in politics.

Industrial workers from Midwest states such as Ohio, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania are an example, she said. They felt government was ignoring the loss of good jobs in their areas. Many supported Trump. Their support helped Trump win states that voted for Obama, a Democrat, in the last two elections.

“I don’t think the march is going to help Democrats very much,” Almond said. “There (was) a lot of screaming about all sorts of issues, but I think the message was too diluted to have a lasting effect.” By diluted, she meant too many issues were raised.

Carrie Almond speaking at Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
Carrie Almond speaking at Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Democratic Group Hearing from more Women

Amanda Litman helped organize the group “Run for Something,” which trains Democrats to run for elected office. Since the march, over 800 women “told us they are ready to run,” said Litman, who worked for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Two other groups that train both Democratic and Republican women for elections also reported increases in the number of people seeking to run for office. They are VoteRunLead and the Center for American Women and Politics.

The Center, based in New Jersey, said women now hold fewer than 20 percent of the seats in the U.S. Congress. Only four of the 50 U.S. governors are women. And, women are mayors of only 19 of the hundred largest cities.

With Clinton losing the 2016 presidential election to Trump, the United States still has not had a woman president.

'Tears and Fears'

Kathleen Daniel
Kathleen Daniel

“The election brought some tears and fears in my house,” said Kathleen Daniel, 46, a single mom in Brooklyn, New York.

“But after the march, and the energy of all those diverse women sharing our strong concerns about what Trump will do to our country, the sneakers are back on. I’m ready to go.”

Daniel is running for the New York City Council.

Erin Vilardi started the group VoteRunLead. She said women face disadvantages when they run for office.

Women are often asked something that men are almost never asked, Vilardi said. That question is whether they have the time to serve in elected office because of their duties to care for their children and spouses.

Had Clinton become the country’s first woman president, she would have inspired more women to run for office, said Jessica Loyet Gracey. She teaches political science at Northwest Missouri State University. However, Loyet Gracey said Clinton’s loss might lead even more women to run.

“I think more women are feeling a lot more threatened than they would have if she had won and so they’re ‘fighting back’ by deciding to get more involved in politics.”

Kelly Dittmar is a scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics. She said it is impossible to know for sure if Clinton lost the election because of her gender.

But it surely hurt her, Dittmar said.

“The presidency is one of the most masculine positions in American politics,” Dittmar said. “That’s clear -- given that all the presidents have been men.”

She said that Trump used this to help his campaign. Trump often said he had great energy and that Clinton seemed tired or sick, Dittmar said. He even suggested she did not look presidential.

Why Doesn’t She Smile More?

Dittmar said some reporters also showed a different standard. There were suggestions that Clinton needed to smile more and comments about her clothing. She said this was “something not done with male candidates.”

Caroline Heldman is a political science professor at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California.

She said the 2016 elections are likely to create the third time in America when more women candidates ran for public office.

The first, she said, came early in the 20th century when women were fighting for the right to vote.

The second time came in 1992. It was called “The Year of the Women.” More women were elected to the U.S. Senate after the Senate confirmed Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court.

He was approved although he was accused of sexual harassment by a woman who worked in his office.

“Clinton’s loss in 2016 will likely inspire another wave of female candidates to run for public office,” Heldman said.

I’m Bruce Alpert.

And I'm Jill Robbins.

Bruce Alpert reported on this story for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.

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Words in This Story

inspire - v. to make someone want to do something

scream - v. to say something in a loud voice

sorts - n. all kinds of things

diverse - adj. different from each other

sneakers - n. a shoe with a rubber sole designed for people to wear while running, playing sports or walking

disadvantage - n. something that makes someone less likely to succeed than others

masculine - adj. suited for a man

smile - v. an expression on your face that makes the corners of your mouth turn up and that shows happiness

harassment - n. to attack or annoy someone