The Iowa Fiction Show

Ep. 6: You Should Run

September 15, 2020 Kristine Keil Season 1 Episode 6
The Iowa Fiction Show
Ep. 6: You Should Run
Show Notes Transcript

Women are grossly underrepresented in American politics. Full stop. That needs to change. Host Kristine Keil takes this episode off course for an important PSA.

Sunday Drive by Silent Partner Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0 Music provided by FreeMusic109

Kristine 0:00

Voting for a woman president is not an option during this upcoming presidential election, but if it were? Would you? Vote for a woman? How about your governor? Legislator? Mayor? City council? School board? 

Yes, you guessed it. We’re talking politics today. But not in a gross, divided way. And while this isn’t fiction or writing, really, it’s something that I think needs to be said and broadcast. Over and over and over again. Because it’s that important. 

I’m going to pause here and say that on the next episode, we will be resuming our normal author interview format with a Des Moines-based author and Iowa native, so if you’re not into today’s topic, have no fear. We’ll catch you in two weeks. 

Okay, back to politics. 

So, sure the upcoming presidential election is fast approaching, and it’s a big one, but something even more important is the future of our politics. And things have slowly been changing over the course of the history of the U.S. 

Women now have the right to vote, but how many women are actually running for office themselves? How many are representing us, the people, and our schools and cities and states? Do you vote based on name recognition? Do you take the time to research each candidate and cast an educated ballot? 

Okay, before I get too preachy here, I’m just going to read a guest opinion article I wrote on Feb. 11, 2019, that was published in the Des Moines Business Record’s Lift IOWA newsletter on the topic of women running for political office. 

It’s titled “You should run.” 

During this last election, we saw many firsts for women in politics, both nationally and locally. Iowa elected its first female governor, we have three women in the U.S. Congress, and we now have 45 women (30 percent) serving in both the Iowa House and Senate. But women are still underrepresented in politics.

For the last six years I've worked full-time at a nonpartisan, university-based center for women and politics where a campaign training program has been offered every other year since 2007. I’ve been attending Ready to Run Iowa: Campaign Training for Women since 2013, and here are the top three things I’ve taken from the workshop series:

One: Research shows that when women run, they win at equal percentages to men. And when you see women running and serving in office, more women run the next cycle. It’s called the multiplier effect.

Two: Fundraising is a big deterrent to women and turns them off to the idea of running. Women generally find it difficult to ask for money. This shouldn’t scare you. The money you raise and invest in your campaign is money well spent to get the ideas of the people pushed to the top of your agenda. Five dollars toward a yard sign is a reminder to everyone that you’re serious and have something to say on behalf of hundreds if not thousands. It’s never all about you; just keep that in mind to help when making the ask.

Three: Many people believe one must have a political science degree to serve in any capacity. This is simply not true. Local boards and commissions are desperate for a wide variety of people with different backgrounds. Engineers and teachers, stay-at-home moms and lawyers, fast food workers and small business owners are all needed to accurately represent all citizens and make smart decisions that benefit the greater good. All socioeconomic statuses and ages need to be represented, not just the typical leaders in your community.

This piece isn't about partisan politics. This is about convincing women they are smart enough and qualified to run, win and serve.

Research shows most women need to be asked to run. They need to have a seed planted and have someone else believe in them first. More specifically, on average, it takes three asks to get a woman to actually run for office.

You should have a representative who thinks like you, looks like you, and wants to do good by you because, after all, they are working for you. And if you don't have that right now, girl, look in the mirror because you should run.

You should run.

You should run.

End column. 

Since that article ran, research has now come out saying that asking women a certain number of times to run is false and not true. Well, that may be the case, but I am still going to use it because I think it captures the urgency of changing the face of U.S. politics and paints a picture where we’re all supporting one another and asking our neighbors and friends to fight for us. To ask for their help because we see something in them that could serve the greater good. That can even the playing field and to effect change where change is needed. 

And right now women need the support. Women are juggling even more now during the pandemic than they were before -- they’re continuing to work full-time (if they’re lucky and weren’t laid off) and childcare and homeschooling are largely falling on their shoulders. 

So now that I stated the obvious, I’m going to throw you a curveball. Getting more women into elected office is so, so, so important. But my only ask from today’s episode is not that you vote for a woman just because she’s a woman. It’s great if the most qualified candidate is a woman, but the most important thing you can do today is go vote. That’s all. 

Oh, and you should run. 

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Until next time.