National IssuesOpinion

Opinion: A look into the rise of women in politics in Idaho and beyond

Illustration by Abi Millet

I did not know a lot about politics when I was younger. It was not until the 2016 presidential election that I began paying attention to politics and the government, and my interest sparked when I learned about the real possibility of the U.S. electing its first woman president. 

Though my knowledge of politics was limited, I was not necessarily surprised that, if Hillary Clinton won, she would be the first woman in office. I was, however, a little bit offended. 

Earlier this year, I saw multiple headlines saying that in 2020 more women ran for Congress than ever before. Though that headline is issued pretty much every year,  it does not discount the achievement. 

The importance of women in politics is vital to our society. If all of our representatives and elected officials are men, then they are really only representing less than half of the population. 

Many popular political debates and topics center around women’s rights. Whether it is abortion, birth control or women’s access to health care, these topics come up frequently. The fact is that men should not make government decisions on these topics that concern the lives of women. 

These decisions need to be left up to the women of the U.S. who will be affected by the policies for the rest of their lives, whereas men will not. 

Despite the growing numbers of women running, men still largely dominate elected positions.

According to the Center for American Women in Politics, men take up a vast majority of these positions. At a federal level, men take up 76.3% of congress seats, leaving 23.7% for women. Looking at the states, out of 50 governor positions, there are only nine women governors. In all elected categories, men are the majority, even though women outnumber men in all but nine states

Idaho does not stray far from the apparent norm. Idaho has had a majority of male candidates, especially in federal positions, though many women have held successful careers in the Idaho Legislature. 

State senator Maryanne Jordan has had a long reign, serving on Boise’s city council, the Idaho Senate, and now as the Minority Caucus Chair. 

Idaho has also seen a number of women win their primaries this year. Paulette Jordan, who ran against Gov. Brad Little in 2018 in the gubernatorial race, is currently running for U.S. Senate. She took 85.7% of the democratic primary vote against Jim Vandermaas. 

Paulette Jordan would be not only Idaho’s first woman U.S. senator, but also Idaho’s first Native American Senator. There have only been four Native American senators in the past, and none of them have been women. 

In 2014, Jordan beat the odds by unseating incumbent republican Rep. Lucinda Agidius, serving two terms in the Idaho House of Representatives. 

It would be a challenge to beat incumbent Sen. Jim Risch, who ran unopposed in the republican primary. Idaho has consistently voted in republican senators since 1981, when democratic Sen. Frank Church lost his reelection. 

But more recently, Idaho’s large cities have been voting blue. Since 2004, Boise, Idaho’s most populated city, has elected democratic mayor’s into office. Laruen McLean, Boise’s current mayor, is the city’s first woman mayor. 

For too long, women have been seen as inferior to men for a number of misogynistic reasons. This misogyny is so rampant in our society that even now in 2020, we are looking at yet another male president for the 2020 presidential election, even when women are taking more positions.

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