I am excited that Hillary Clinton could be President of the United States. You read that right -- excited!
According to conventional punditry, I'm supposed to be lacking enthusiasm, nearly slapping my face to stay awake. But instead I can hardly wait to gather some friends and head to Iowa like I did in the bitter cold of 2008 for Barack Obama.
When asked why I, a long time progressive activist who has worked closely with Bernie Sanders in the Congress, am so strongly supporting Hillary, my answer is simple. I really, really want a pro-woman woman to be the most powerful person in the world.
We are living in a time when the politics are as anti-woman as I have seen in decades. Remarks reserved for the boys locker rooms are now said on stages by men who actually aspire to be President. I'm thinking of Trump being too disgusted to contemplate a woman using the toilet, or controlling herself while "bleeding from somewhere."
Worse, though, are the Republican candidates competing for who can be the most against a woman exercising her Constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy. And the Winners are...Marco Rubio who thinks there should be no exceptions to a ban on abortions, not even in cases when the pregnancy results from rape or would threaten the life of the woman, while Ben Carson and Ted Cruz agree that a victim of rape or incest can't have an abortion -- or maybe even the morning after pill.
And even worse yet, now we know for sure that Republicans are against birth control. I know that's hard to believe but the evidence is harder. In their budget, House Republicans voted almost unanimously to eliminate the federal program that funds family planning -- a remarkable position for people against abortion. They voted 5 times to defund Planned Parenthood whose clinics are visited by 2 million women per year, mostly for preventive services, cancer screenings, and yes, contraceptives. One out of every five American women has visited a Planned Parenthood in her lifetime.
I've tried to explain to my Republican colleagues that you can significantly reduce abortions by guaranteeing access to effective contraceptives, but they don't seem to grasp the connection.
I am thrilled to think that my President will be a smart woman who has been a tireless advocate for women and children her entire adult life, a person who has experienced pregnancy, who has had her period, and who declared in front of the whole world in Beijing in 1995 that "Women's rights are human rights."
American women still earn 79cents to the dollar that men make -- significantly less for women of color. Republicans won't let us pass the Equal Pay Act or the Equal Rights Amendment, or paid leave from work, or affordable child care. Poor women are seeing a decline in longevity and 2/3 of minimum wage workers are women. Oh, I could go on and on and on.
A woman in the White House won't solve all these problems, you say, and you're right. But I guarantee you women's concerns will move up on the national agenda from day one of a Hillary Clinton Administration. Even as she addresses the problems of the world, (as the hands-down best prepared candidate to do so), women and girls everywhere will stand a bit taller and stretch their dreams a bit higher. And I believe we can make policies that improve the lives of and opportunities for women with Hillary as President.
I am really sick of the attacks on women -- on our health care choices, on our pay checks, on our ability to raise healthy children, on our hopes for a secure retirement.
That's why I am going to do everything I can as a member of Congress, a mother, and a proud grandmother like Hillary Clinton, to make her President of the United States. My heart beats a little faster just thinking about it. You can say I'm excited.
Jan Schakowsky represents the 9th Congressional District of Illinois and serves as Ranking Democrat on the Select Panel the Republicans created to investigate Planned Parenthood (again).