senate race into chaos with incendiary comments about rape and abortion.
announces it will open its doors to female members. is there a
for us to talk about
and the american political landscape? it’s monday,
and this is “now.” joining me on set today, new york senator
of the ”
,” salon.com editor at large,
, author of the book “what’s the matter with
, why we long for a
that never was” and from dallas, texas, senator
kay bailey hutchison
. great to see all of you ladies. two years ago, the
house of representatives
saw an historic setback when the number of congresswomen dropped for the first time in three decades. there are currently just 73
in the house representing 16.8% of the
and it’s not much better in the
are 17% of the
. at the state level, 88% of governors are men. of the 100 largest cities in
, 92% of mayors are male. four states, mississippi, iowa, delaware and vermont, have never sent a woman to the
, either the house or the
is far from a leader for the
rest of the world
when it comes to female representation. the latest report from the
finds the u.s. ranked 79th in terms of female participation in national parliaments. among the nations with higher percentages of elected
are rwanda, afghanistan, china and cuba as well as 22 of the 27 eu nations. but what better illustration of just how male dominated the debate has become than comments made yesterday by
congressman and current
, asked about whether he supported abortion in cases of rape, he said –
it seems to me first of all, from what i understand from doctors, that’s really rare. if it’s a legitimate rape, the
has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.
, called the comments ignorant and offensive and shows akin doesn’t understand what a rape victim goes through.
this statement is kind of a window in his mind. for most missourians, i hope this is a gut check moment and they realize this is not somebody we want speaking for us and our values on the floor of the
united states senate
gave a strong condemnation of akin’s words, telling the
national review online
quote, congressman akin’s comments on rape are insulting and frankly wrong. i have an entirely different view. what he said is without merit and he should correct it. a lot happening today in the area of
‘s concerns. senator gillibrand, i guess the first question is, were
‘s comments representative of the political dialogue that is too male-focused?
i think it is. clearly, if we had 51% of
in congress, we would not be debating whether something is a legitimate rape, whether we should be having contraception and whether employers should make that decision. we would be debating the economy, jobs,
, things that really matter. so i really believe what our generation needs is a nationwide
call to action
to make sure more
‘s voices are heard. we need
voting in this election. we need
holding these elected leaders accountable for what they’ve said, for what they’ve done, for what they believe in, and we need a transformative
call to action
that can actually change what this dialogue’s about and what our national priorities are.
, i want to go to you because you are also serving in the
. are you surprised at this debate over abortion and
‘s issues continues to be such a talking point despite the fact that everybody has acknowledged that the economy and sort of the great debate on social issues and american fiscal policy is really what the country is hungry for?
yes, i do think that the issues that should be the focus of this election are jobs and how we can create jobs, how we can get this debt down in a responsible way. i hope we can get back to that. i don’t think anyone believes that congressman akin was giving the views of any other person but himself. it was just outrageous and he knows that, and i certainly don’t think he represents a party in any way. i do think more
in congress, more
would be very important for us to have as a goal, and i think there has to be an acceptance that
will be judged by their views on the issues that affect people’s lives and i think that is what we need to base our decisions on, and i think more
bringing their views to the table and their experiences to the table are very important.
i have to say, senator
team responded very forcefully on this and there have been other opportunities where they have not perhaps responded as strongly. you are saying that congressman ash akin is not representative of the party. do you think this has ramifications for the race against
i would assume so because i would assume that the people in
feel the same way that governor
and i feel, that these comments were wrong, but i don’t know. i don’t know what the situation is in
. i think jobs ought to be the issue. i think obama care ought to be the issue. i think how we get down the
should be the issue that people look at, and i think how he handles those — what he said, he’s got a lot of apologizing to do and i hope he does it and i hope that he gets right on the issues that matter in
i want to open this up to you guys as well. what’s amazing about these debates on
‘s issues is that very often, the folks debating them are men.
and the question is how do
not only take back the debate but move it on to things that people actually care about, and when we talk about
and higher office, what we see is a trend downward. we’re talking about congress may reach a 30-year low in terms of female representation. there was a study done last year asking
women in law
, business, education and politics whether they were interested in running for higher office. in
, 23% of men were asked the question — sorry, 23% of men said they were interested. 18% of
said they were interested in running for higher office. in
, that number had dropped, 14% of
were interested in running for higher office. i guess, you know, let’s unpack that. is that — you look at what’s happening on the
‘s health stage of sort of the debate around
‘s health, you look at how
are treated, you look at the difficulties in terms of campaigning. is it a surprise that
are inclined to throw their hat in the ring?
can we go back to
for a minute?
we don’t want to waste this opportunity. i agree with
and with kay but i also think that this guy is so
over the top
that he’s not representative of most people, although he is representative of a
of republicans who believe absolutely, most of them are smart enough not to say what he’s saying in public.
can i just interject one thing? there was a bill in congress called redefining rape that
it went in this direction. some rapes are real rapes and some are not, so he is not isolated. i don’t link him to senator
sadly is not isolated and if he becomes the person who topples
, that is a national tragedy and that will get
out into the
and i hope it gets
out into running for office.
the other thing is, it’s put the
people in a real bind, because they are anti-abortion, and what
said actually represents most people who are anti-abortion, which is abortion is murder and it doesn’t matter how the woman got pregnant. if you murder the fetus, you’re murdering a
. so when they say well, we’re in favor of it for rape or incest, they’re basically saying we’re sort of in favor of murder but sort of not. so they’re really caught up in a bind on this one.
was one of the congresspeople that supported a narrow definition of
, that is absolutely worth mentioning. but again, this dialogue that we’re having over rape, over personhood, over defending
seems largely to be conducted by men. i wonder when you are inside the
, you’re watching this go on, what is the discussion among the
who are representatives as far as why this legislation is being pushed forward?
what it represents is the lack of
‘s voices in our democracy on the level that it should be. to have only 17%
in congress, to only have six
governors, to have a panel on birth control, the first one held in the house to not have one woman being part of that testimony, it shows that
‘s voices really aren’t being heard. if we could have a
rosie the riveter
for our generation that created the
call to action
to vote, to be heard, be advocates on the issues they care about and hopefully more
running, truly, if we had 51% of
in congress we wouldn’t be debating these issues. we would be talking about the real issues.
kay bailey hutchison
is on today, she’s written a bill called the infrastructure bill, with
. it is a common sense nonpartisan idea about how to create jobs in
. to unleash the private sector’s ability to be the investor, the direct
in long term infrastructure projects of national significance. what a great idea. if we had more
, we would be doing things like
, made in
, where we have
u.s. based manufacturing, they would be rewarded.
, it’s like we have a democratic senator praising a republican senator on live television. it doesn’t happen very often. are
more bipartisan than men?
well, i think
has been such an advocate for the infrastructure bank and i so appreciate that, and i think it’s well known that the
senators meet for dinner about once a month and we do have a good relationship. we do allow that we have different views on the issues and we represent different states and that’s very important, but we don’t try to tell people from a different state and a different party that they should vote on controversial issues in some way. we sort of rise above the politics and in that way, we are able to come together when we are unanimous on something and we have a huge voice, and sometimes that’s on
‘s health issues and issues of what’s covered by insurance, and those kind of things, where we’ve been very effective. but i would also like to go back, alex, to your original question about why
don’t run, and one of the issues i think is the tenor of politics and looking at the
, looking at some of the things that are done in these local
races, it turns
off and they think why would i want to get into a
when i have a nice life, i’ve worked hard, i’m in business or i’m a mom and i’m a civic activist, whatever, they don’t maybe want to get into this sort of nastiness of politics. i think that should be part of the factors considered here.
can i just add to that? i think you’re exactly right. the reality is, particularly with this independent money, this secret money, it’s flowing into these campaigns in the tens of millions of dollars. what it’s doing, most of that money is spent on negative ads. so if all of the voters hearing, all the
are hearing negative ads pounding these opponents they won’t want to run for office. they will say i’m not going to put myself or my kids through that. so you’re reducing the number of talented, bright people, particularly
, who want to serve and that has to change.
campaign finance reform
has to be done next session,
, because these pacs that have no accountability and you don’t know who is contributing to them, is absolutely a part of this problem.
yes. pacs are no doubt part of the
, as you call it, senator
. we’ll be talking a little more about the
and also after the campaign, what happens when
become legislators. we will discuss the challenges
face as leaders and lawmakers, next. this