Bittinger: The Women’s Vote

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(Host) There’s been much discussion and analysis of the women’s vote in
the 2012 election. Commentator Cyndy Bittinger is a teacher, writer and
historian who notes that this time, the women’s vote clearly mattered.

In 2012, more women voted than men. Of those, 55% voted to re-elect
President Obama. Also women candidates sprang into action in New
Hampshire and Massachusetts. New Hampshire will make history by sending
the first all woman delegation to Congress! Massachusetts will send
Professor Elizabeth Warren to Congress as its first woman Senator. In
the past, it was believed that women couldn’t raise enough money to be
serious candidates. But in 2012, dollars flowed to female leaders, so
that myth is also history.

A vital part of the president’s
re-election strategy was to gather votes from women who saw their
concerns addressed by his party. Democratic campaign offices in the
Upper Valley were filled with both young college age women and female
senior citizens. Older women were once again working to resolve issues
they thought had been settled long ago – women like Lilly Ledbetter –
for whom The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is named. Ledbetter is a white
Southern woman who worked for a living along side men who were paid
more money for doing the same job she did. Her activism can’t change her
personal history or right the wrongs she had suffered, but now  she
lobbies for the next generation.
Other issues that moved women to
action included continued funding for Planned Parenthood. Women want
this health care provider to remain available to the middle class and
the poor.

Birth control, abortion and rape continue to be
compelling issues. Women are concerned that a fringe element in the Tea
Party would, if given a chance, outlaw abortions even in cases resulting
from rapes. And The Affordable Health Care Act is perceived as being
favorable to other women’s health concerns – like access to birth

Women care about education. Maggie Hassan, New
Hampshire’s new woman governor, promises to restore draconian cuts to
the UNH budget. More than half of the students there are female.

also perceive equal rights struggles – such as the Same Sex Marriage
drive – to be important. And in 2012, Maine, the most conservative state
in New England, reversed its 2009 ballot measure to allow same sex

Then there’s Big Bird. Many of us raised our children
watching Sesame Street and weren’t happy to realize that the funding for
high quality children’s programming like this, could be on the chopping

Vermont leads the nation with 40% of our state
legislature now comprised of women. Women lead three of our powerful
House committees. But we haven’t yet sent a woman to Congress. And in
1986 Vermont defeated an effort to pass an Equal Rights Amendment for
our state Constitution – never mind that the federal Equal Rights
Amendment is still languishing – lacking just three more states to
ratify it.

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