First, as with most Democratic/progressive organizations in Maryland, Montgomery County seems to be the state headquarters for these organizations. Now, Montgomery County is one of the richest in the nation because it is part of the Washington beltway global corporate and wealth neo-liberalism. So, having 'progressive' organizations coming from Montgomery County will indeed work against real Democratic labor and justice. All residents of Montgomery County are not in this generalization----but they know who has the power. We have Progressive Maryland in Montgomery County pushing Anthony Brown----the biggest Wall Street corporate pol in the Governor's race for example. That is not progressive. They are a neo-liberal group pretending to be progressive. The Maryland League of Women Voters is the same. This organization has branches all across the state but the Montgomery County headquarters controls most of the content----and controls the state races like Governor completely. I was told years ago that MLWV includes a video of all candidates in all races on their website to allow citizens to see the candidates and hear their platform. Well, that did not happen for Cindy Walsh for Governor because on the first major forum in Montgomery County I expressed my platform of public justice, oversight and accountability, and holding global corporations at bay and building a domestic economy in Maryland. I talked of reversing corporatization and privatization of public education and universities et al and THAT IS WHY CINDY WALSH WAS NOT IN ANOTHER MAJOR FORUM ESPECIALLY ONE CONNECTED WITH MLWV. This debate would have been the one that would have been posted as a video on their sight but for some reason 'they could not afford to tape this forum'. The school has an in-house video department for free. If the Montgomery County MLWV did not have a video of Cindy Walsh for Governor on their site----none of the branches across Maryland did either. They posted a small questionnaire that gives a few hundred word opportunity to develop a policy stance.
I don't think participating and allowing systemic election irregularities and censuring a candidate for major office is making Democracy work....this is exactly why 80% of Democrats and Republicans do not come out to vote.
Mission: The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.
Making Democracy Work
The League of Women Voters is dedicated to providing well-researched and unbiased information so that all voters may become better informed. Browse this website or use the Search Box to learn more about issues, events, and your elected representatives. You can also:
- Sign up for our Free Email Action Alerts and Newsletters
- Register on this site. All LWV members in Maryland should register.
- producing Voters Guides;
- assisting at voter registration drives and providing information about voting;
- and hosting forums for candidates.
- researches issues such as transportation, housing, environmental concerns, campaign reform, etc. then produces Fact Sheets;
- conducts community forums on local, state, and national issues;
- distributes informational brochures and pamphlets;
- and provides information about government on the national, state, and local levels.
The University of Maryland and Maryland Public Television with whom the Maryland League of Women voters partnered both used the policy of polling to determine which candidates will appear on these largest of forum stages. I will review polling problems again a little later but needless to say a 5th grade math class could have determined that the polls presented on the race for Governor of Maryland were corrupt and useless. Even if they worked as they should-----excluding a candidate from debates especially early in the primaries keeps that candidate from name recognition and that is why a candidate does not poll. The idea that a candidate has to come to the race with name recognition and media coverage is not what elections are about.
THE CITIZENS DECIDE WHICH PLATFORM THEY SUPPORT AND IF THEY LIKE A CANDIDATE AFTER GETTING TO KNOW THEM.
If three neo-liberals giving us the same talking points handed to them by national neo-liberals are the only ones given exposure----NO ONE WANTS THESE CANDIDATES. JUST AS REPUBLICAN VOTERS DO NOT WANT NEO-CONSERVATIVES DOING THE SAME THING AS NEO-LIBERALS.
An organization truly working for Democratic Elections would know this.
LWVMD's Policy on Candidate Debates Co-Sponsored with Broadcasters
It is the policy of the League of Women Voters of Maryland that candidate debates and forums should be inclusive of all candidates who have qualified to be on the ballot, including all candidates of state recognized political parties, independent candidates, and write-in candidates. However, if the debate or candidates’ forum is co-sponsored by a broadcasting station and the station is not able to provide coverage if all candidates are included, candidates must meet the following criteria:
- Be legally qualified, if elected, to hold the office under federal and state law; AND
- Have filed and met all requirements to be on the ballot according to Maryland’s election laws AND
- Demonstrate significant voter interest and support by:
- Having received 15% of public support in a statewide public opinion poll conducted by a daily newspaper or other nonpartisan organization; OR
- If no such poll exists:
- Provide multiple examples of campaign coverage by at least two major media sources in different geographical areas of the state AND
- Demonstrate that a formal campaign is being conducted by the existence of campaign headquarters and staff or an active website.
Ask yourself ----why would an organization wanting to strengthen voting make these guidelines especially when media is only covering a corporate view? The same question could be asked as to why an organization wanting to strengthen Democratic elections not even mention Trans Pacific Trade Pact? This one policy seeks to end citizens rights to legislate and participate in public policy and indeed Maryland excludes in this way the most.
You have to poll and/or have media coverage in order to be eligible for forum participation. Cindy Walsh was never listed on any of the polls that did occur. I was the 70% undecided early in the primary! The media in Maryland non-partisan? Labor and justice candidates were completely excluded from all. I met all the criteria above except the media and polling. WHY IS IT NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO SIMPLY BE A LEGALLY QUALIFIED CANDIDATE? It was for the Republican candidates for Governor of Maryland as many of them never met these MLWV guidelines throughout the primary and were in all forums and debates. DISCRIMINATING BECAUSE OF PLATFORM!
Look at the definition of neo-con----the group controlling the Republican Party and think neo-liberals----global markets/corporations/Trans Pacific Trade Pact---the group controlling the Democratic Party. THEY ARE THE SAME. So, I understand Maryland is a conservative state ---but even the Republican voters in Maryland don't vote for neo-cons. When you promote US global markets you promote worldwide intervention for those markets---military and development/political actions losing trillions of dollars to domestic economy every year. This is why Clinton/Bush/Obama and Erhlich/O'Malley are the same pols.
The term "neoconservative" refers to those who made the ideological journey from the anti-Stalinist left to the camp of American conservatism. Neoconservatives frequently advocate the "assertive" promotion of democracy and promotion of "American national interest" in international affairs including by means of military force. The movement had its intellectual roots in the Jewish monthly review magazine Commentary. C. Bradley Thompson, a professor at Clemson University, claims that most influential neoconservatives refer explicitly to the theoretical ideas in the philosophy of Leo Strauss (1899–1973)
So while the neo-cons build global military and security corporations to protect US global corporations, neo-liberals/neo-cons dismantle all public structures and hand government to corporations----giving us this widespread fraud and corruption. IT'S A TAG TEAM.
In a dramatic act of defiance against neoliberal globalization, South Korean farmer and former president of the Korean Advanced Farmers Federation Lee Kyung-hae committed suicide by stabbing himself in the heart during a meeting of the WTO in Cancun, Mexico. Prior to his death he expressed his concerns in broken English:
My warning goes out to the all citizens that human beings are in an endangered situation that uncontrolled multinational corporations and a small number of bit WTO members officials are leading an undesirable globalization of inhuman, environment-distorting, farmer-killing, and undemocratic. It should be stopped immediately otherwise the failed logic of the neo-liberalism will perish the diversities of agriculture and disastrously to all human being.
Now, I look on the Maryland League of Women Voter's website for this kind of Democratic instruction-----the most valid to voters and especially women voters
-----AND NOT A WORD---ONLY PROMOTION OF THESE VERY NEO-CONS AND NEO-LIBERALS.
Nations around the world have known this neo-liberal/neo-con dynamic and have fought it for decades but Americans do not because organizations like MLWV are silent and captured.
WHY FIGHT FOR THE RIGHT TO VOTE AT THE POLL IF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HAVE LOST THE ABILITY TO RUN CANDIDATES THAT ARE NOT THE SAME GLOBAL CORPORATE POLS? 'JUST DON'T VOTE' THEY SAY!
The people who lose out in any march to third world autocratic society are women and children. Women in the US fought hard for the right to vote and run for office. It makes no difference whether you can come to the poll if all the candidates being offered are working for global corporations killing our democracy!
THIS IS THE ORGANIZATION THAT WOULD BE SHOUTING OF THE DAMAGE BEING DONE BY CURRENT POLITICIANS.
The League of Women Voters was founded by Carrie Chapman Catt in 1920 during the convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. The convention was held just six months before the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, giving women the right to vote after a 72-year struggle.
The League began as a "mighty political experiment" designed to help 20 million women carry out their new responsibilities as voters. It encouraged them to use their new power to participate in shaping public policy. From the beginning, the League has been an activist, grassroots organization whose leaders believed that citizens should play a critical role in advocacy. It was then, and is now, a nonpartisan organization. League founders believed that maintaining a nonpartisan stance would protect the fledgling organization from becoming mired in the party politics of the day. However, League members were encouraged to be political themselves, by educating citizens about, and lobbying for, government and social reform legislation.
This holds true today. The League is proud to be nonpartisan, neither supporting nor opposing candidates or political parties at any level of government, but always working on vital issues of concern to members and the public. The League has a long, rich history,that continues with each passing year.
From Bush/Cheney building war corporations to defend global corporations and markets to Clinton/Obama dismantling public and democratic structures to hand control of government to corporations.....IT ALL HURTS WOMEN THE MOST.....SO WHY ARE WOMEN ORGANIZATIONS NOT SHOUTING AND EDUCATING AGAINST THESE POLS?
The number of women thrown into poverty from since Clinton embraced neo-liberalism was the greatest in US history----until Obama came along. Neo-liberals create the conditions for fraud, corruption, and wealth distribution.
This article does a great job interweaving the team-playing of neo-cons and neo-liberals. It also shows what would be of grave importance to any woman's rights organization----and in the US----none of women rights groups are talking. They are captured by leaders working for these global corporations.
NEO-LIBERALISM IS A WAR ON WOMEN NO MATTER THE FACES THEY PLACE IN FRONT OF YOU.
From the war on terror to austerity: a lost decade for women and human rights Heather McRobie 31 May 2013
Patriarchy, militarism and neoliberalism have created a matrix in which women and women’s rights can never flourish because none of them place human values and human dignity at their core. Heather McRobie reflects on the conversations at the Nobel Women's Initiative conference in Belfast.
The Nobel Laureates sharing the stage at the 2013 Nobel Women's Initiative conference. Photo (c) Judy Rand.
A recurring theme at the Nobel Women’s Initiative conference in Belfast has been a reflection on the last decade in terms of its global impact on women and human rights. A picture emerged of a period wherein the excuse of ‘war on terror’ as a justificatory narrative for exclusivist identities, state violence and violence against women gave way to official austerity narratives that, in their own way, entrench inequalities and disempower women. Central to the decade was the elevation of the sanctity of the nation state’s security or perceived security, often – paradoxically – at the expense of both its citizens and those outside its borders.
Several speakers reflected on the ‘war on terror’ period in terms of its interrelated assault on human rights and women. The human rights violations and mass violation of human dignity enacted under the guise of the ‘war on terror’ runs from arbitrary detention to drone-strikes, from Guantanamo to Yemen to the encroachment of the rights of ‘citizens’ in the homelands that those who instigated the ‘war on terror’ were claiming to ‘protect’. The attack on women was similarly wide-sweeping: from the neo-colonial appropriation of the discourse of ‘women’s rights’ – toothless and sanitised in its neo-con costume – as an empty vessel to further the cause of militarism in Afghanistan and Iraq, to the ossification of rigid binary gender roles in the ‘homeland’ of America; rapes were committed by occupying soldiers at sites of invasion while in countries such as Yemen and Pakistan women’s lives were eroded by the chaos in their lives caused by the ‘war on terror’.
Amina Mama, Director of the Women and Gender Studies programme at UC Davis, spoke at the conference about how the process of militarisation works in tandem with the construction and reinforcement of rigid, exclusivist gender roles, creating matrixes of power-structures in favour of the nation state and military and against alternative, non-hierarchical ways of being. The epidemic levels of sexual assault within the US military itself – while due to its own complex set of causes – in some sense plays out this dynamic in microcosm, in the interlocking of patriarchy and militarism that is central to the dominant conception of Western statecraft.
Similarly, there is a parallel between ‘us and them’ narratives constructed in the racist discourse of official ‘war on terror’ framings and the ossification of rigid and regressive gender roles that characterised the ‘war on terror’, from the neo-colonial justifications for military invasion under the guise of ‘protecting women’ to the rigidity of gender roles in the ‘homeland’ espoused by the same Republican-Party-mind-set that so enthusiastically rallied for overseas wars. As Susan Faludi and others have outlined, just as the ‘war on terror’ drew on imperial tropes to enact its overseas wars, women at home were further marginalised from power under the logic of the emergency-state of a country at war.
Madeleine Rees of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom mentioned the levels of military spending in the last decade, and the dynamics of arms sales worldwide as a human rights and feminist concern. The cost of the ‘war on terror’ was an estimated $3.2 billion to $4 billion for Americans, a figure that excludes both the economic cost on the invaded countries and the human toll of (by a very conservative estimate) 137,000 civilians killed and 7.8 million refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The toll of a decade’s worth of wars, and the debts incurred as a result, were a significant factor in the economic crisis that dominated the later part of this lost decade.
The ‘lost decade’ was lost in many fronts, and these losses continue. It is worth noting here that, while the ‘war on terror’ may have been a construct of the Bush-Blair era its legacies are potent and alive in our current realities well into the second term of the Obama administration, from drone strikes to the 2012 National Defense Authorisation Act which stitched Bush-era indefinite detention into American domestic law. Meanwhile Guantanamo, one of the icons of Bush-Blair ‘war on terror’, remains open so many Obama-promises later.
Yet if the high years of the ‘war on terror’ played out as a Rubik’s cube of militarism, militaristic gender roles and the corrosion of human rights and dignity, the segue from the ‘war on terror’ era to what could be characterised as the post-2008 ‘austerity’ era did little to loosen this knot, whilst layering upon it its own injustices. Madeleine Rees made the point, during the conference, that austerity should be conceptualised as a ‘war on the poor’. Under the guise of saving the nation state, measures are brought in that entrench inequalities – this has played out in the removal of citizens’ rights to access vital services as social safety-nets are corroded, compounding the difficulties caused by mass employment and underemployment.
In addition to this strain, austerity has been gendered. Governments such as the British government have utilised the emergency-mode of ‘austerity’ to focus its cuts on those who are least invested in by their ideology. The strain of the recession means there has been an increase in domestic violence from Britain to Spain to Greece, just as domestic violence shelters are closing – those who are caught in dangerous and abusive situations are now less likely to have the financial means to leave their partners. Layered on top of this, the re-emergence of right-wing and conservative national governments since 2008 have furthered blocked women’s interests, as cuts have fallen disproportionately on services and benefits vital for women’s safety and development. A report by the European Women’s Lobby found women’s organisations are struggling throughout the region as a direct result of the recession and austerity. This increase of domestic violence, loss of services and benefits for women, and the curtailing of women’s organisations comes in addition to the general impact of the post-2008 recession: deterioration of working conditions and employment, underemployment for women as temping agencies capitalise on their diminished opportunities, and public sector cuts, a sector in which women were the majority of workers. Globally, the impact of austerity has been gendered just as poverty is gendered – this is the intersection of the austerity as a ‘war on the poor’ and austerity as a ‘war on women’. The ‘feminisation of poverty’, which was a pressing concern before 2008, has been deepened by the ‘austerity’ era, firstly through the economic crisis itself and secondly as governments and international organisations have structured their cuts in ways that disproportionately hurt women and other structurally disadvantaged groups.
Yet in these austere times, as women and the poor shoulder the weight of the economic crisis, one sector, at least, seems safe -- military spending in the western world continues at its ‘war on terror’ scale while spending on vital services and benefits is decimated, blind to the fact that ‘war on terror’ military spending was a key factor in triggering the 2008 economic crisis. Military spending has barely been encroached upon by austerity measures in the United States and Europe, when compared to the impact of the economic crisis and austerity on citizens’ quality of life. Yet the argument deployed that military and arms are – for all their other faults – at least good job creators in times of high unemployment, has been debunked by a University of Massachusetts study showing that defence spending creates the proportionally smallest number of jobs. Governments continue to militarise, and militarise societies, as citizens at home and abroad suffer the economic hardship brought about by the crisis. The disconnect between military spending and the impact of austerity on citizens is often jarring: Greece, whose crippling economic crisis has taken a painful toll on its citizens, in 2012 spent the most on arms in the EU as a percentage of GDP. This is the combined heritage of the last decade: austerity-crippled citizens, a series of devastating wars, attacks and drone strikes, with increased homelessness and unemployment as governments focus their spending on new weapons. It is a toxic environment for human rights, women’s rights, and social justice.
The thread that follows from the ‘war on terror’ through to ‘austerity’ is the lack of value placed on human life and dignity. Neither militarism nor neo-liberalism place human life and dignity at their centre, yet both work with ease with the modalities of patriarchy. If this ‘lost decade’ can be divided into the ‘war on terror’ (militarism) and the ‘economic crisis’ (neo-liberalism), we can see how both encroached on women and human rights within their frameworks by working in tandem with patriarchal structures: the ‘war on terror’s militarised masculinity and assault on human rights abroad combined with its corrosion of the gains of feminism in the ‘homelands’, and the economic crisis and austerity through its privileging of the market over human values, in a climate where services from health to education to domestic violence provisions are cut but military budgets remain almost untouched.
Speaking at the Nobel Women’s Initiative, academic Valerie Hudson made the point that ‘there is a ‘war on women’ underneath all other wars’, a line of argument that encompasses the much of the misguided and violent nature of the ‘war on terror’ to ‘austerity’ eras. The phrase ‘war on women’ gained widespread media currency during the last Presidential election in the USA, primarily as a way to characterise US Republicans’ attacks on women’s rights, particularly their reproductive rights. In this wider context of this ‘lost decade’ analysis, from the ‘war on terror’ to ‘austerity’, it highlights how the thread of gender inequality, as well as the assault on human rights and social justice, links the two poles of the era.
The ‘lost decade’ was not only ‘lost’ in terms of the lives and potential of those caught in the wars, militarism, state-sponsored xenophobia, encroachment on human rights and loss of the gains of women’s movements. This grim marriage of patriarchy, militarism and neo-liberalism also prevented an adequate response to the urgent and complex global crises of our time, most notably climate change. The urgent need to address climate change has suffered neglect at the hands of the bodies who are doing most of contribute to this global disaster, whilst narratives of ‘war on terror’ and militarism distract from this core global concern. That tackling climate change has fallen by the wayside during the ‘lost decade’ is a global disaster in its own right; it also has gendered dimensions. Women are the primary food producers who are being pushed to work on more barren land as climate change ravages landscapes, while women and children face additional difficulties as refugees as a result of climate change.
If this has been a lost decade for women and human rights, the urgent question now is how we prevent another ‘lost decade’ whilst mitigating against the worst of the impacts of this matrix of militarism, patriarchy and neo-liberalism that mushroomed in the 2000s. Amina Mama spoke at the Nobel Women’s Initiative of practicalities of the moment, of placing women’s security at the heart of human security, moving ‘security’ from a militaristic conception to a feminist conception that centralises human values. More broadly, the task ahead to prevent another ‘lost decade’ is to resist the matrix of militarism, unfettered neo-liberalism and patriarchy as it manifests in the current realities of our ‘austerity’ era.
Heather McRobie was reporting for openDemocracy 5050 from the Nobel Women's Initiative conference Moving Beyond Militarism and War: Women-Driven Solutions for a Nonviolent World. Read 50.50's full coverage of the conference in articles written by Peace laureates, participants and speakers.