On Politics With Lisa Lerer: ‘I Found My Voice’


Let’s talk about you.

We got so many thought-provoking responses to our letter about the wave of female activism in politics that I couldn’t resist sharing some.

For Sue B. Mullins, a former Republican state representative from Iowa, our post prompted her to recount the moment she decided to run for office in the 1980s.

“The ‘influential party’ men came into our living room and stated why they believed that it was important for my husband to run in the Iowa House race. Jim and I listened and he responded, ‘I have no interest. But I know a fantastic person, who is … my wife.’ The party leaders were appalled. But I ran, anyway. With a teensy campaign budget, enthusiastic volunteers and occasional self doubt. We won. Five times.”

Robert Thompson, 78, a former businessman who grew up with “eight magnificent sisters,” had this to say:

“My dad used to say, ‘If you want to get something done give it to a busy man.’ I am his son and I would say, ‘If you want to get something done give it to a woman.’”

Sandy Sims said:

“It is about time that women kick those guys out and bring in young progressive women who know what all women need to make life easier and better for all. I can’t wait for the blue and pink wave. Hey guys, it is only a matter of time!!! We outlive you!!!!”

Randall Barkan sent in this classically Californian take from the West Coast:

“I live in San Francisco. Our mayor is a woman (of color). My congressional representative is a woman, and has been for over 20 years. My two senators are women (one of color), and we have had two women senators for 25 years. So this is no big deal for us. We are, however, glad to see the rest of the country coming around.”

Of course, not everyone agreed: Jim McPeak thinks we’ve got it all wrong.

“You’re way behind the curve. The facts are, most men that vote don’t care if the candidate is a man or a woman, only the policies.”

And Paul Lillebo of Asheville, N.C, says gender doesn’t factor into his vote.

“It hasn’t changed my outlook at all, and I don’t think it should. I have voted for men and women for over 50 years, irrespective of their sex. I’m sorry to see some candidates actually making it an issue. Phrases like ‘representation of women in Congress’ are not helpful. No member of Congress is there to represent a sex.”

But perhaps the most common response we saw was from women like Katherine Schowalter of Eastchester, N.Y., who had been interested in activism for years but never got involved herself. Now, that has changed.

“In the last few years I have participated in numerous marches, have canvassed and phone-banked for candidates, all women. Feel like I found my voice.”

Responses have been edited for clarity. Special thanks to Margaret Kramer, our news assistant, who helped us organize all of your messages (and you sent a lot!). As always, you can write to us at onpolitics@nytimes.com.


Every so often, we like to tap the brain of our national political correspondent Jonathan Martin. No one knows political trivia — or where to find the best nosh on the campaign trail — better. This week, he sent us this:

With President Trump in Missouri tonight, I have the Show Me State on my mind. And while I do love the toasted raviolis on The Hill in St. Louis, I really enjoy getting to Kansas City.

For those keeping score at home, the Missouri side of Kansas City is the Fifth Congressional District. It is currently held by Representative Emanuel Cleaver, a pastor and former mayor.

It is not really a competitive seat. Mr. Cleaver is something of a local institution and (already!) has a road named after him. But surrounding Jackson County is crucial to statewide elections — you can expect Senator Claire McCaskill and her Republican rival, Josh Hawley, to spend much time there this year.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here