A panel of North Idaho women want their sisters to lead

All over our country, women are finding the courage to run for public office. They are eager to ruffle the status quo and passionately want to make a difference. They are angry and ready to fight.

Women's marches, complete with pixie-eared pink hats and anti-Trump signs, have provided an organized outlet to the worry within. The scary man in the White House is triggering a female revolution.

President Trump's blasé attitude toward education, his active destruction of safeguards for the environment and his strident misogyny are all giving energy and motive to Democratic female candidates.

Emily's List, the national organization that gives support to pro-choice Democratic women, counts 30,768 women nationwide ready to run. That's about the population of Post Falls!

Kootenai County's Democratic Club last week featured a panel of local women asked to deal with the question: Just what's so special about women? What unique qualities do we bring to the political arena? Why should men and women alike vote for a woman?

The panel agreed that summoning up the courage to run is a difficult challenge for most women. A job, young children, husband, aging parents or other responsibilities may stand in the way of committing to a campaign. Finding the self-confidence to hang one's ego out to blow in the public wind seems more difficult for women than for men.

Panelist Kristin Ludwig manages an all-female staff at CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), a nonprofit organization that operates under the belief that every child deserves a safe and secure environment in which to live. Ludwig stated that most women want to be held accountable for a task and want to see a project from start to finish. Many women have a talent for leadership. Ludwig suggested that with responsibility comes vulnerability, a strength not a weakness, reflecting a woman's greatest measure of courage.

Ludwig also said that "with passion comes grit. And women who possess grit will stop at nothing to get the job done. These are the women you want representing you in government and the women you want working on your team."

Longtime Coeur d'Alene resident Bev Moss stated that women are especially empathetic. They exude the ability to understand other people's points of view — intellectually, to walk in somebody else's shoes. Moss cited her history as a former airline union leader caught in a tough negotiation with the company. Union members were asking for more money and more time off. The company said they couldn't afford the raises. Working with a woman who represented the company, Moss said they were able to find a compromise that both workers and airline representatives could accept.

Asked why the compromise worked, Moss added that "it took women to breach the divide initially and really listen to the other side."

Another panelist, Traci Hanks, is a young woman with a master's of science in psychology who is the admissions director of the Northwest College Support Group, a local Coeur d'Alene transition program for college students with mental health needs and learning differences. Hanks stated that concern for women's health care is a reason for women to run for the legislature in Boise or Congress in Washington, D.C. She said women's equality today is based on access to birth control options, and called attention to the bills in the Idaho Legislature and in Congress that focus on women's reproductive health. Hanks said that "decisions on theses issues affect the women of Idaho on a very personal, intimate, day-to-day level."

Also adding youth to the panel was Kenna Smoot, mother of two young sons, and owner of Bitchy and Kitschy, a line of vegan clothing. Smoot pointed out that women were running matriarchal societies far back in human history. She emphasized that women cannot only lead, they can also multitask.

"Ladies, don't wait for a white knight in Washington or Boise to ride up and save us," Smoot advised. "You will wait forever. It is the grassroots who will create the message, launch the campaigns and win the elections that finally change our country for the better. Our time is now, the future is female."

My own contribution to the panel was to point out that mothers are children's first teachers and have the responsibility of civilizing them — and convincing them that telling lies is not in their best interests. Mothers teach children that getting along with other children is a good idea, as is being kind to others.

I also pointed out that Donald Trump has shown no signs of having a mother. We know very little about her, and have seen little evidence of a mother's influence on her son.

In summary: Women have strengths unique to their sex, but not exclusively. Women check their egos at the door and are good team players. Empathy rules. Women care passionately about their children and other people's children, good medical care for all and the environment. Women can lead, follow and multitask. And above all, women are peacemakers and care deeply about peace.

Run, women, run! You read it here in the Inlander — the future is female. ♦

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