Monday, February 11, 2008

Gender and the DNC

Polprint will not add to the already plentiful “women’s vote” analysis of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. But while we are on the subject of gender, she would like to share some “who knew?” facts about the Democratic Party charter.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is gender-correct to the letter. According to the party's charter and by-laws, three of five vice-chairpersons of the DNC must be “of the opposite sex” from the chairperson. Representatives of each state to the DNC include the chairperson of the state’s Democratic party…plus the highest-ranking Democratic party official in the state who is of the opposite sex. In other words, if New Mexico has a male Democratic chairperson, a woman must tag along to the DNC as well, and vice-versa.

There are also provisions requiring the DNC to include Congresspersons of different sexes. Mayors too are required to be gender-diverse, as are representatives from Young Democrats; from state attorney generals; from state treasurers. It goes on and on. Polprint’s favorite: Even the two representatives from the National Democratic Ethnic Coordinating Commitee, whatever that is, must be of different genders.

The Republicans have fairly similar rules: a chairman and co-chairman of the opposite sex for the RNC; gender-diverse representatives on the RNC from states. There is more, but it does not quite go down to the level of ethnic co-ordinating committee (possibly there is none).

Now, Polprint can vaguely understand such documents appearing in the early 1970s, before she was born. And she feels grateful to all those who slugged it out for gender-equality in decades past. Nowadays, however, with a woman battling for the top of the Democratic ticket and Kay Bailey Hutchison’s name starting to be batted around by Republican VP speculators, aren’t we nearing that “post-gender” stage? What if Maine wants two women to represent it at the DNC or the RNC? What about ethnic minorities, who have no spots saved for them at the DNC/RNC?

The final irony: neither the Democratic nor the Republican party endorses quotas.

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