Living Archives Interview Series
October 2008, Menil Collection
Panelists: Carol Alvarado, Peggy Hamric, Annise Parker
Interviewer: Kathryn McNiel
Panel: 18 Million Cracks-- Women and Politics 2008
Elizabeth Gregory: Hello everybody. Uh, I’m Elizabeth Gregory. I’m the director of the Women’s Studies Program at the University of Houston, and welcome to the first program in this year’s Living Archives series, which is sponsored by the Friends of Women’s Studies, and this series aims to present a sense of the complex history of women’s lives in Houston and of the struggles and changes that have characterized that history. And the Living Archives format complements the archive, the Women’s Archive that’s in the M.D. Anderson Library at U of H that collects the papers of Houston-area women’s organizations and women of note in Houston’s history, and the focus of the archive is on the oral histories of Texas women and the papers of the organizations. Um, the archive series is meant to focus attention on the need to document women’s history as well as on the Women’s Archive. Uh, the Friends of Women’s Studies support the Women’s Archive. If you’re not a Friend please consider joining. There are membership forms as you were probably pointed out when you came in, and among the member benefits is free admission to the Living Archives. We’re going to distribute cards, or little pieces of paper actually, for you to take down any questions you might have in the course of things, and then at the end we’ll have question and answer time. That makes it easier for the questions to be on mic because we’re videotaping, and the video becomes part of the archive also. So later if you want to remember what was said you can go and either watch it or ask for a transcript. Um, and at this moment I want to introduce Thelma Smith who’s going to talk to you a little bit about the Menil, briefly, and I’ll come back.
Thelma Smith: To all of you, I think I’ve seen most of you. I work at the front desk, and my desk is now called on-site membership, and I’m here to talk to you about membership. The Menil—as you know, the Menil has always been free since its inception, and now we are trying to expand our programming a little bit. All our programs here at the Menil are free, especially the ones that are sponsored by the Menil. By becoming a member, you not only get ten percent off from me, from the north desk or the south desk, you also become an instant underwriter. You’re an underwriter because our museum is free for everyone, and no matter who you are or when you come in when we’re open, you’re welcome here, and if you see me at the desk of course you know you’re welcome because it’s how I feel about the Menil and how I feel about the public. So, anyway, do take a look at our membership bulletin, which I gave you, and I also gave you the membership invitation. Look at it, and if you’re not a member already, and if you are a member I thank you, and if you’re not please consider membership in the Menil so we can continue our commitment to the community with free programs. Thank you so much.
EG: Thank you. You can tell we’re in a financial crisis, and everyone wants you to join, pay money to get free programming, including us. Uh, but, we appreciate your support. Um, I also wanted to let you know that we have a series upcoming of programs that will include in February a panel on Houston’s Shi’a Ismaili women, focus on ethics and education, and in April a panel on mental health and women, effect on the family. So you’ll get fliers about that, letting you know closer to the time who will be involved. But tonight we’re going to talk about politics, which is what everybody has been thinking about non-stop, along with the financial crisis, for the past few months. This season has been like no other, and women candidates have been in the fore-front as never before, on both sides of the political spectrum. Um, as you know, Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin have transformed the discussion in the past few months, and here at home we have a, I believe, a majority female city council—is that true?— and at least the possibility of a female mayoral candidate. And our panelists will offer a variety of perspectives on political experience, and I’ll first introduce our moderator who will introduce the panel. Katheryn McNeil will lead us in a discussion of both national and local politics, and make some connection between them. Uh, and then Annise Parker, Peggy Hamric and Carol Alvarado will share their experience, and at the end, as I say, we’ll have time for questions, so please join me in welcoming the panel.
Kathryn McNiel: Hi, I’m Kathryn McNiel, and I want to thank Friends of Women’s Studies for hosting this discussion. Um, if I don’t have my glasses on (audience member laughing) I’d be lost. Um, let me introduce our panel. Carol Alvarado is down on the end. Carol is a native Houstonian, a longtime resident of Houston’s east end. Carol served on Houston city council from two thousand two to two thousand and seven. Carol is now the Democratic Party nominee for state representative, district one forty-five, and a graduate of the University of Houston.
Carol Alvarado: Yeah.
KM: Peggy, in the middle, was elected to the Texas House of Representatives by a special election in March of nineteen ninety-one. She served for eight legislative sessions and numerous special sessions. Now, for UT folks, you want to be a little kind to Peggy, she’s a graduate of the University of Oklahoma.
KM: Next to Peggy is Houston City Controller, Annise Parker. Annise is a second-generation native Houstonian. She’s Houston’s fourteenth city controller, the second highest elected office, and serves as the city’s chief financial officer. Ms. Parker served for six years as an at-large member of Houston city council and is a graduate of Rice University. So this will be our panel tonight; I’m strictly here to facilitate. Um, a piece of information as we start off this conversation is we have Hillary Clinton’s run for President of United States, Sarah Palin’s ground-breaking bid for Vice President, Nancy Pelosi’s role as first female Speaker of the House, yet women still only make up sixteen percent of the Congress. Less than a quarter of our state legislators are women, and out of the hundred largest cities in our nation (music playing in background) we only have ten female mayors. So, having that little piece of information, I’d like the three of you to start off with, how did you enter politics (audience member coughs), and was there a specific woman or issue that was the motivation to run? Carol?
CA: Thank you to the Women’s Studies Program for hosting this. I’ve been a Friend and supporter, and I want to give my sister Yolanda Alvarado credit. She has been an inspiration for getting me involved in women’s issues. Um, I grew up in the east end community, and there was an issue that sparked my interest in politics, and that had to do with the environment and public health. I grew up in a community that was completely surrounded by the chemical and refining industry, and I knew that we had problems because I saw the high incidence of children with asthma, people suffering from different types of cancer, employees who worked at the plants that died from cancer, and so I started educating myself on the permitting process for these facilities, and I started getting involved in campaigns and got involved in the Democratic Party, and I organized my civic association and started challenging industry and raising awareness about public health, the environment, what we needed to do as a community and as a city to move forward, and that was my interest in politics. I went on to work for various candidates. My first real job in politics was working for Congressman Gene Green. I working in Washington and worked on women’s issues, mostly on women’s reproductive rights, worked on environmental issues, and then I went to work for Mayor Lee Brown and focused more on city issues, issues dealing with parks and libraries and our health department, and then in two thousand one decided it was my turn to run for office and ran for city council and that was a great ride. It was an interesting time in our city. I was very pleased to be part of a group that comprised the majority—the first time ever we had more women on city council, and I was often asked do you think it will be different since there are more women on the council? I said you bet it will. We’re going to get more done, and I think that we did. Annise was on at that time too. But I always feel that when you have more women involved in governance at the city, state or federal level we tend to want to build consensus. We tend to communicate in a much more effective way and to try to strike a balance, and I think that that’s important in politics. If you can’t communicate, if you can’t reach across the aisle, if you can’t reach across to somebody that maybe you have nothing in common with but you care about an issue even if you’re on opposite sides, you have to communicate effectively. And so now I am entering state government, and I’ll certainly seek some advice from Peggy, but I’m looking forward to that. You know, in nineteen twenty we won the right to vote, and it is now time to use that right to change what is wrong with our country. And I think if we have more women in politics then we have an ability to put issues like education, healthcare and the environment at the top of our agenda. To me those are some of the most critical issues, aside from the economy, but I think with women in office we tend to focus on those issues that affect women, children and families. So, I’m happy to be here and look forward to taking your questions.
PH: Well my entry into politics is a little bit different than Carol’s. Number one, I’m a lot older than these girls, so you have to remember I grew up in the forties and fifties, and there were no women role models in politics. Girls at that time were encouraged to be teachers, nurses or secretaries. Well, I couldn’t type and freaked blood (laughter) so I majored in education and was going to be a teacher, but I was interested in politics. Number one, my dad was an arch-conservative and my mom was pretty liberal so we had a lot of interesting arguments around the house about politics as I was growing up, and for some reason, my family were originally from Louisiana, I grew up in New Mexico, and actually one of my really close friends in high school’s dad became governor of the state while we were in high school, so I was a little bit involved in that but not really because I don’t know why but this daughter and grand-daughter of family from the Deep South Louisiana decided I was a Republican in high school. I do not know why. I have absolutely no idea. My parents could not understand this, but I did, and so I was interested in it, but I married young and raised a family, but I did work in politics some when I was a student at the University of Oklahoma, by the way, and my very first campaign was working for Bud Wilkenson—you may remember that’s back when we used to win a lot of games,(audience laughter) back in the old days—and who ran for the United States Senate, years and years ago, and that was the very first time I ever knocked on doors and supported a candidate. At the same time Barry Goldwater, who was really my hero, but my has our party changed a lot since then, but I became very involved in that, and then, of course my husband was involved in the oil business and we moved constantly. But when we landed in Houston I got very, very involved with the local Republican party and Republican women’s groups and ended up volunteering and running most of those dad-gum phone banks that call and harass everybody, so [laughter] that was me running those things, staying there late at night—It was before computers, so everything had to be hand done, and you had to personally harass people [laughter], but I enjoyed it. I’ve always said that I think politics are just like anything else you volunteer for. It’s a public service, and actually you can do a lot of good. And that was always my interest. My interest was never in running for office. I worked on everybody’s campaign, from very, very local to President. What I really wanted to do—run campaigns. I wanted to be a political consultant and run campaigns and do grassroots politics in that way, but lo and behold, my predecessor, state representative, decided that he was going to take a job in Washington DC. And he had to resign from office, and so he just sort of announced it out of the blue one December at a gathering, and before I left every gathered around and said, well, you need to run for that. Remember we always said when Barry left we were going to run a woman, and we’re going to put a woman in the seat. Well, you may not know this, but Kay Bailey Hutchinson was the first Republican woman ever elected to the Texas House of Representatives from Harris County, and I was the second [laughter] twenty years later, so I asked Kay one time, what did you do? But, twenty year later there I was. I decided to run. Well, there were four women and four men who ran, and I ended up in a run-off, and ended up winning the election. I was sort of the last one standing because there were a lot of people I knew that were really interested in running and had always talked about running, but when it came right down to it, they wouldn’t do it, so I did, and Carol is right. It does make a huge difference to have women at the table when you’re writing laws. I was very involved, during my eight terms in the legislature in women’s healthcare issues, and it was one of the things I had never really thought I would be doing when I got there. But I didn’t know, dad-gum it, that all women’s healthcare issues have to mandated otherwise we don’t get them, and so I had a lot of arguments from my conservatives, and people saying do we really want to mandate these things? Well, you know, either you have it or you don’t have it now, and I even had doctors tell me, you’re right, it is the only way, and so we do, and so, it makes a huge, huge difference. I always thought the more women that ran, the more that would win, the more inroads we’d make, and eventually that will happen, but I will have to say, this Republican woman was shocked that Hilary Clinton did not win that nomination. I was shocked. She’s younger than I, but somewhat, long background, long history, you know, did her homework, due diligence in every area, and I was really surprised, so-- We’re going to get into that later.
KM (?): We’re going to get into it.
PH: So I won’t get into that. But that’s how I got into it, by being a grassroots volunteer, so watch out what you volunteer for. You never know.
Annise Parker: Actually, I think we all got into it through the volunteer route, and, ah, Peggy who—I’m a big fan of Peggy, and I’m glad she’s here tonight-- I would have never imaged myself in public office, and my family still can’t believe that I’ve been in office now for eleven years. There wasn’t a particular woman candidate that inspired me, but I came from a family where voting was sacred. You voted every opportunity, every election, and I don’t know that it’s the same for kids to go in, and you have that little screen now, but when you went into a voting booth, and you pulled that lever, and the curtains closed and you shut out the world, it was like going into church, and you would wait hours to do it, if necessary, and it felt very important. And I also—I come from a long line of Republicans. I’m the black sheep of the family—very, very conservative. They were Goldwater Republicans, and um, but I remember the Kennedy assassination. I was in elementary school at the time, and it wasn’t some much the assassination as that the whole world stopped, and my parents, who hated Kennedy, mourned with the rest of the country, and it made a profound impact on me, not so much his policies, but that one person could be so important and made me really want to understand why he had that influence and what happened. The first campaign I got involved with was Eleanor Tinsley for city council. The school board fights were a little before I was aware, but I volunteered on Eleanor’s campaign. I was stuffing envelopes, and helping go door to door, and the second campaign I got involved with was Cathy Whitmire for mayor, and the same thing, never—just very happy to be an envelope stuffer and a volunteer—whatever they needed to do, just the feeling of possibility as they were running, and that real change was possible with them in office. I agree that there’s a different perspective. We have different communication styles, that we, often, as women, bring different issues to the table. I don’t think that—well, let me stop—women, still, we tend to feel like we have to be the best and the brightest in order to put ourselves into the arena, that we have to work harder, we have to study more, we have to know more, we have to be finished before we get in, and I think a lot of male candidates, they just jump in and see what happens [laughter]. And that may be in live in general, but women candidates, my experience is that we want to polish ourselves before we get there rather than just getting in and starting to do the work.
KM: Before we talk, because we’re going to go to the national level, and Hillary, and the impact of Hillary and Sarah, and why it took, you know, Geraldine Ferraro was VP in 1984, why has it taken so long for there to be a presidential and a VP, um, but has there been any type of personal expectation placed on you, either by constituents, the media, other politicians, that were either unfair or positive expectations because you were a female, running for office, or in office? Peggy?
PH: I don’t think any unfair expectations, but I will say the most shocking thing that ever happened to me my first campaign knocking on doors, and I had a woman tell me, do you think you’re tough enough to stand up to those men, and I’m like, my goodness. That’s when I realized sometimes it’s women who don’t support us as much as we really should, each other. I really—That surprised me then, and it still surprises and shocks me.
AP: I just love getting fashion advice from people I don’t know.
[Loud audience laughter.]
AP: [Laughing] I know you’ve had that happen too.
[Continuing laughter from audience.]
PH: Oh that happened-- [inaudible] I’ve got a good one on that one.
CA: Well, I had two instances. Before I even ran for city council I started at the very bottom of the ladder in politics. I ran for precinct chair, and I was I think twenty. I don’t know; I was very, very young, and there was a precinct judge, an older man that had been in office, held that position for eighteen years, and I remember going up to my high school principal, no, elementary school principal, and he tried to discourage me. He said, you know, you’re young, and it’s just not your time sweetie [laughter]. Why don’t you just try to maybe volunteer with him, and let him show you the ropes, and it was right then that I said, hell no, I’m not waiting. In fact, that gave me the energy and the fight to do it. As we say in Spanish, con mas ganas. I went for it. Um, and then in running for city council in 2001, there were two men in the race with me, and I could not believe this, but one of them actually had the nerve to put out a flier that gave a comparison, and I was portrayed in a negative way because I was single, and I lived alone. Ooohh, what does that mean [laughter]? Uh, and here he was a very, you know, nice family man, married with children, so I thought, well, what are they insinuating here, and what it did, it backfired, and it brought more people out to the polls, but what I was most pleased to see was that young women came, and some of them came with that mail piece [laughter] and said to him and to his volunteers, this is why I’m coming. This is ridiculous; we’re in 2001, and you’re criticizing her for being single, so there you go, it’s still around.
KM: Um, let’s talk about the impact that the Hillary run had and Sarah Palin as vice-presidential nominee, and I just—not any particular question—how do you think it’s changing the landscape, will it have an impact, and a long-lasting impact because when I think about it, I mean, Geraldine Ferraro was VP nominee in 1984, Kathy Whitmire was elected mayor in 1981, there’s not been a female mayor since, Ann Richards was elected governor in 1990, where are the women running for governor? So, is this the lasting impact, the fact that Hillary Clinton is running for president? Annise?
AP: You have to have women in the pipeline at all levels, and they have to be in the pipeline long enough to really work their way up through the system. When Geraldine Ferraro was plugged to be a vice presidential running mate she was—it was actually akin to what McCain did with Sarah Palin—totally off the radar, pulling somebody in who no one, no one knew, and I would also—Pat Schroder, Libby Dole—but, serious contenders where there was a real possibility of winning. I’ll admit that it’s been a while. We have to be in the trenches longer, and we have to, not just wait, as Carol said, we also have to elbow our way in, but you have to have the credentials, and that’s one of the things, Palin had an amazing opportunity when she was chosen, but then you start looking at the resume and some of the support falls away. I’m one of those women who, I was a Clinton supporter, and I felt it—and I’ve been in politics for a long time, I’ve been volunteering for a long time, I don’t get excited about candidates, and I have to say I wasn’t excited about Clinton as Hillary Clinton, I was excited for the first time about a woman running, and I really felt it in my gut in a way that surprised me, and when she didn’t make it, it really [inaudible] [laughter]. And, so I understand those women out there who said, well, we’re never going to vote for Obama for knocking Clinton off, can they really switch to Sarah Palin? Absolutely not. Now, I’m happy actually to see Sarah Palin on the other side because it is important to have women in those positions, but I think Hillary clawed and scratched and earned her way to that position, and I don’t think Sarah Palin did, and I think that’s going to backfire on her, and we benefit when women leapfrog, but then there’s a downside to it as well.
KM: Peggy, you want to go?
PH: Well, I disagree a little bit, and not just the partisan part, but, I mean, how many men have been that darn qualified to be Vice President [laughter]? I mean, face it, how many people could even name who ran? Most of us [chatter], I mean, nobody knows, so until a woman got picked, hello, now it’s like, dad-gum, you’ve got to be perfect, like you said women have to set themselves up to be a much better picture. I mean, that’s just the way it is, and I think that’s what surprised me about Hillary Clinton because she did have all the qualifications, and she had done the groundwork, and she had worked hard for that, and here comes this Johnny-come-lately that nobody knew that talks really nice and uses big words, and everybody goes, oh my gosh. I kinda had an experience like that, and I can tell you, it ain’t nice [laughter]. I mean, I knew where she was coming from; you go, who in the hell are you [laughter]? So, anyway, yeah, I do—
AP: It’s interesting, you know, from opposite sides of the political aisle, we had the same gut reaction to the race, and then our political brains kicked in, and we made our choices.
CA: On vice president though we have had some excellent individuals running Al Gore, and certainly Lloyd Benson, so—
PH: But we’ve had some good ones too—
CA: On Hillary Clinton, I too, like Annise, was very much involved in the campaign, and I took it personal. I really don’t take politics personal; I’ve grown a thick skin. The first time I ever ran for office I lost, but this was a different loss because to me it was significant. I don’t care how you paint it, but she was treated unfairly by people of the party, by even some of the leadership in the Congress, and certainly by the media, and because she was smart and because she was ambitious, and because she was aggressive, she was called all sorts of names, you know what I’m talking about, starts with a b, right? But, you know, if a man is smart, and he’s got his game together, and he’s firm, he’s aggressive, wow, what a guy, he is qualified to be president, but if a woman has those same characteristics, she’s called every name in the book. She’s polarizing, and I hope that it’s not too long from now that we have another woman running for president, but we have to have a woman that we can all be proud of, a woman of substance, a woman that has the credentials that Hillary has, so we’ve got some work to do. I was reading this book, and I urge you all to get it, it’s called Pearls, Politics, and Power by Madeleine M. Kunin, who was the governor of Vermont and also the ambassador to Switzerland, but here she talked about that in Switzerland, Swiss women gained the right to vote in 1991, 1991 [audience chatter]. They have more women in parliament than we have in the Congress, and they’re on their second, second, president. Second woman president.
KM: So Carol, is the impact of the Clinton run lasting? Or is it a—or will it be a blip?
CA: I think it’s lasting. I got to travel to Puerto Rico with Senator Clinton, and I was amazed at what I saw. We were in this caravan, and there were so many young, I’m talking about young girls, four, five, six and seven years old, running out to the caravan and screaming, Hillary, Hillary, Hillary! And it wasn’t just there, but it seemed everywhere in the country. I’d go into schools to speak, high schools, colleges, and women were pumped up and excited because this was a woman that we weren’t voting for her just because she was a woman, but she was the most qualified candidate in the race, bar none, and I think it’s going to continue, and have a long-lasting impact, and it’s up to us. Those of us, whether you’re an elected officer or not, I think we have a responsibility, and you in the audience to keep that momentum, to keep it going, to look for good women to support for office, to recruit women to run for office.
KM: Peggy, what’s the impact of Sarah Palin? Is there an impact of Sarah Palin?
PH: Oh, sure. I think anytime you get a woman to run or you know, be high profile, sure, it’s going to impact. When little girls see women doing these jobs, then it’s not unusual anymore, it’s something that—and I think that’s been a lot of it with women, a lot of women see us running for office, and they think, I wouldn’t do that, so why are they? I mean, I think, like I say, as it becomes more common, sure, I think any women running, now, you know, she’s certainly different than some of the people that have run, but she’s very likable, and that is probably the number one thing in anybody’s politics, being likable, if nobody likes you, ain’t nobody going to vote for you [laughter], no matter how smart you are.
KM: Annise, one of the—
AP: Ergo, George Bush.
KM: Carol referred to some of the criticism of Hillary. Um, too tough, um, instead of seeing that as a strength it was interpreted that she was a woman that would be difficult, um, and yet, when she cried in New Hampshire, or teared up in New Hampshire, she didn’t cry, she teared up, um, that was really interpreted, at least by the media, as a softening, and the response to that seemed to be very, very positive, so does the public have expectations of women that still fit a stereotype, that women have to take into consideration when they run?
AP: Oh, absolutely, there’s a double standard. It’s interesting that you had to qualify whether she teared up or she cried.
KM: Well, Pat Schroder cried. She never lived that down.
AP: Whether, whether it—But, was it Eagleton—presidential candidate, uh—
AP: VP candidate that teared up and got dropped from the ticket, so—We want, at that level, we want our officeholders to be strong and resolute, and never sense that you might have doubts or second thoughts, but we also want them likable and someone that you might want to kick back and have a beer with, so we’re conflicted about it.
KM: Is that the same for men, Carol?
CA: Yeah, I recall, and I’m not going to name them, but certain men that had on the national political scene, that had sex scandals or affairs, and they’re there with their wife, and they shed a tear, and nobody criticized that, but, um, Hillary sheds a tear because she’s talking about her experience. Somebody asked her a simple question, you know, how do you do it; how do you get through the day, and I thought that was one moment where she, um, showed that she is human. We are all human, and so she was criticized for showing a moment of being human, but then, on the other hand, she’s categorized as a cold-hearted person that doesn’t have any feelings, so either way, you’re conflicted, and it’s not fair, and she, I think, did the best that she could to deal with those issues.
KM: But don’t you think that helped her? I mean, my interpretation was, the minute people saw that, it helped her.
CA: It did, but why are we talking about it, why is it an issue? It has nothing to do with policy. It has nothing to do with her credentials, and yet, it was three or four days worth of news.
AP: It did humanize her. I do think it helped.
KM: But, at the same—
AP: It’s a double-standard.
KM: But at, but at the same time, when she started running for president, and I think it’s something that Sarah Palin has done so well, in high heels and a skirt [some laughter], is to be tough and to talk tough, and that, if I need to, you know, hit the red button, I can, and Hillary’s campaign from the very start—
AP: We still want to the women to be women [sounds of agreement] and to be feminine, and tough.
PH: And tough, but don’t cry.
PH: And I do think that is true. I really think that’s true, and I think that’s part of Palin’s attraction. She looks good, you know, jokes with guys. She could probably go in the bar and have a beer with them. Hillary did a few shots; I thought that was pretty nifty [laughter]. Man, didn’t even blink, tough gal.
KM: Um, I would describe two types of women right now. Women that are willing to call themselves feminist, and I would say that’s probably women that grew up more through the fifties, sixties, seventies, versus the post-feminist women, and I might go as far to say that the post-feminist women were with Obama and are pretty comfortable with Palin, and the women that are willing to call themselves feminist were a lot of the Hillary supporters, and my question—and you can disagree when you respond. You can disagree with the way I’m kind of describing that. Um, but my question becomes, can a woman, is there a woman candidate that can bring those two groups together, the feminist versus the post-feminist?
CA: I thought she gave a good shot at trying to do that. I think that you did see a lot of young women that were supportive of Hillary, and in fact, Lisa’s sitting right here in the audience, worked at one of the campaign offices, and internship in several states, but I think it got overshadowed with Obama’s this new movement, the whole youth issue, but I would beg to differ, that there were a lot of young women that were very supportive of Hillary. I think all of us, we have a responsibility from here on out to educate our young women. I think if we have more women that know about the women’s suffrage movement and gaining our right to vote, and all the struggles that women went through, they will appreciate it more and be supportive of women candidates when they run, so, but I beg to differ just a little bit.
PH: Well, I— as far as I could tell. I didn’t have a lot of friends supporting Hillary, I’m going to be honest with you [laughter], but as a woman, I was disappointed because I felt it was slap to women, what happened to her, and I think she—the media treated her unfairly, her party treated her unfairly. I have been there on this deal [laughter], and I can tell you, that bothered me. That really bothered me, but I’ll tell you, I think who really disliked Hillary were men. Men are very intimidated by a woman that they feel may be smarter than they are, or perhaps equal to. I think a lot are, and I think that was probably, from what I heard. I’m just an innocent bystander on the streets, but I did hear a lot.
KM: Describe what—You probably know more women that support Sarah Palin than I do.
KM: Um, it’s just true. I’m not going to lie; it’s just true [continuing laughter]. Um, is this the same type of woman that would be comfortable with Hillary, the type of woman Hillary represents, someone who would call themselves a feminist?
PH: Well, I probably—oh, I don’t know if she’d be called a feminist, but I think, I mean, I think the two of them could sit down and have a conversation, I mean, you know—
KM: Well, what about the women that are comfortable, uh, supporting Sarah Palin and John McCain? Are they—are they comfortable saying, I’m a feminist?
PH: I don’t think so. I don’t think so, no.
KM: Why not?
PH: I don’t consider myself a feminist particularly, and a lot of it has to do with my age, as old as I am, I’d say I was too young to be a suffragette [laughter], and I’m too old to be a feminist, so I’m kind of born in that gap, and so I get a little bit of both, but I’m becoming more as I get older, and see things, but no, but I’ll tell you, Palin has a lot of male supporters. That’s where I hear a lot of support coming from.
[Laughter and chatter.]
KM: Yeah, but I want to know how a young Republican woman would describe herself or—I mean, you said no—
PH: We don’t have a lot of young Republican women.
AP: That’s good.
PH: Not as many as we’d like.
KM: Annise, is there—do you see a difference between post-feminist and women that consider themselves feminist, women that have always had a right to choose, women that the doors for jobs have been open for them whereas, ten, fifteen years ago, they wouldn’t have had that opportunity for that job?
AP: I think I would agree with your premise. I see a real difference. I’m a feminist. I’m an unapologetic feminist, and I would disagree with Carol a little bit. It’s not a matter of educating young women, it’s that they have a completely different life experience than many of us did, and if you don’t have those life experiences it doesn’t matter how much you read about it in textbooks, you just can’t imagine life where you were barred from a huge array of jobs, or you didn’t have access to family planning information or any number of other things, and they just don’t conceive it, and while I think that women of all ages were excited about Clinton’s candidacy, a lot of younger women didn’t feel it in the same way, and for them, they saw Obama as the—the relative youth a freshness and change, and that was more appealing to them than, let’s break the glass ceiling, and the eighteen million cracks in the glass ceiling. There may be eighteen million cracks in the glass ceiling, but the glass ceiling is still there, in my opinion.
CA: I just want to comment on the issue of the women supporters for Palin and Hillary, but I think if you ask women who, whether you went out to a rally where Hillary was speaking or a candidate forum, the women that were supporting Hillary were there because they were concerned about Roe v. Wade. They’re concerned about having a President that is going to appoint Supreme Court justices that are going to keep Roe v. Wade intact. They’re concerned about pay equity, the fact that we still get paid seventy-six cents per every dollar that a man gets, and economic, job, education opportunities, parity. I just, I didn’t see that type of passion and interest from say the women that support Palin; it’s just that it’s a different thing. It’s more about, perhaps, the war in Iraq or terrorist threats, or something else, but to me there is a significant difference of women that support both candidates and the issue that they’re passionate about.
AP: Palin has sort of that rock star aura, and then Obama has a little bit of it too [sounds of agreement], and it’s a different—
CA: Uh-huh. It’s new.
AP: But all those things that you mentioned, those are all—that’s the quote-unquote feminist agenda, pay equity and access to abortion.
PH: I just don’t think women have got to—I think, I think people will vote along ethnic lines. I think they’ll vote along a lot of things, but women are still not to the point where they’ll vote for a woman because she’s a woman. We just have not gotten there, and I think this race was significant in highlighting that.
KM: Is that someplace we want to be?
[Chatter: no, no, no.]
PH: No, no, but I do think it happens, I think that may be where you have to get if you ever want to elect one President. I mean, just to be practical and pragmatic about it. No, that’s not, I don’t think it’s a good thing for people to only vote because of one reason, but people do, but they don’t for women, and I don’t—why?
AP: And it may be the whole part of this, that the whole Commander in Chief thing, and I think Hillary worked really hard to show that she was tough enough to run the country, and there was a little bit of a relief when she teared up—okay, yeah, she really is real.
KM: Well, it’s the double-standard that I think all three of you spoke about, I mean, because the expectation is that she be tough, and then she be soft, all the different roles that women are expected to play, and men don’t have the same expectations placed on them.
AP: Tough, strong, having all the answers—that would be mom.
KM: That’s right. Um, well, when will we have our first woman President? When will we have our next woman governor? Who’s on the forefront for us? Carol, you’re looking to move from City Council to the State House. Um, Peggy, would you get back in? I mean, what does it look, how—
AP: She’s too busy renovating her house.
PH: I am renovating my house and collecting my retirement right now, so—
KM: Um, who’s on the forefront for us? Who are the role models coming for women?
[Inaudible chatter among panelists.]
AP: Kay Bailey Hutchinson.
PH: Kay Bailey Hutchinson is going to run for governor the next time. I mean, I know that. Unless she’s just saying it, but she is going to, so, I mean, I think she’s out there for sure, and, I mean, I think Carol Keaton—with all the names [laughter]. I don’t think she has anything in mind anymore; I don’t know, maybe. But, there are people out there. There are women out there, and—
KM: I mean, one of the things that we probably all want to talk about just on a state level, and it’s also a local, are what are the organizations that are grooming women, um, to run. On a state level there’s Annie’s List. Someone may want to speak to Annie’s List. I think you both, Annise and Carol, have both been endorsed by Annie’s List.
AP: Annie’s List only deals with Democratic women and the state level. Emily’s List is Democratic women at the federal level. Is there a Republican?
PH: Not as far as fundraising, no, but we have Republican women’s clubs that have been around for many, many, many years. They’re very, very strong.
KM: And do they groom women to run?
PH: Oh, they’re strong. Well, they pretty much—they aren’t now, so much as they used to be, I don’t think, but they used to be the Republican Party.
AP: They did.
PH: That was the Republican Party. That’s how I came up through, and the women did all the work; they ran the stuff, and that’s why we started running more women for office. I don’t know if they are as string now.
CA: One thing about Annie’s List is that all of us that have been screened and endorsed by them—one good thing about them is that they really go through and ask tough questions because they want to make sure that they are supporting women and helping to elevate women that are going to be supportive of women’s causes, like the issues I talked about because I think we all want women to succeed. We all want to elevate and have women running for higher office, but we also want to make sure we have women that are prepared, that are qualified, and Annie’s List does a really good job of combing through and asking those tough questions. It’s not just a blanket endorsement because somebody happens to be the only woman in the race.
AP: There are very few times where someone’s just out there unsuspecting and some organization or group says, ah, you’re in the right place, and we want you to run. At some point you have to raise your hand and say, pick me. I can do it, and in order to put yourself through a campaign, you really have to believe that you’re the one, and that you can do it. You cannot be a reluctant candidate.
CA: There’s a new organization, national, called El Poder, that will focus on electing Latinas, Hispanic women, to Congress, to the U.S. Senate. Houston happens to be one of the few cities, large cities, in the whole country that does not have a Latina in Congress. We have Hispanic men in Congress, but no Hispanic woman, in the whole state of Texas, and no Hispanic at all from Houston. I think you’re going to see some opportunities after redistricting, have some new state senate seats, some new congressional seats for people to run for in 2012.
KM: Um, is gender and obsession of the media’s, or, um, or, is it a genuine voter issue? I mean, how many people do you think know, Carol, that there’s not an Hispanic woman from the state of Texas?
CA: Just political insiders, party, Democratic Party folks, it’s not a fact well-known. When you tell somebody they can’t believe it [laughs].
PH: There have been less than a hundred women elected to the Texas legislature in its history, in all the history of the Texas legislature. If you walk through the halls of the state capitol, and you look at all the composites of the former legislatures on the walls, down at the basement, they start at the basement and there’s the oldest pictures, and at every floor they get older, there are no women in any of those. I mean, you’ve got to go several floors [laughter], get up there. There just weren’t any, and then you would see one, and then in the next picture for the next session there wouldn’t be one, so they’d stay one time and not come back. So, there have been very, very few women elected to the legislature, and that’s a shame because it is—I like the thing (?) about retiring, but it’s a great job, and I would encourage any of you—I’m so glad that she’s running because we need more women there. I mean, the most they ever—they had nineteen when I got there, and when I left we had thirty-one, so we weren’t making great strides.
KM: I’m going to open it up to the audience.
EG: Did everybody get a sheet?
CA: I think we also have to ask ourselves, why don’t women run? Why don’t more women run for office? But, it’s a risk. Women are less likely to take a risk. You certainly lose your privacy. Juggling your family and your career, especially if it’s a position that takes you to Austin or Washington, how do you come and go and still be a mother or wife? And money. I mean—
KM: Yeah, no one’s talking about money.
PH: It doesn’t—
AP: You have to be willing to ask for money.
CA: You have to be able to pick up that phone, and it is a very strange feeling to sometimes call people you don’t know, and you’re going off of the list, and you ask for money, and you have to sell yourself when you’re making that phone call. So, that’s not an easy thing to do.
PH: It’s tough. They used to kid me all the time; they’d say, you don’t like to call the people you do know, and like to call the people you don’t know.
PH: So that pretty much eliminates everybody, and it is the—it’s the worst.
CA: We’re so much better at asking for money and for help for other things.
PH: For other things! For other good causes.
CA: For other people, but when it comes to ourselves, we are so shy about—
KM: Um, this just hit the table, and it fits right in with what you all are talking about, um, the emphasis on the physical appearance, the clothing, cleavage, thick ankles, um [laughter], so, the question becomes, is Palin hurting women because she fits the good-looking stereotype without the experience on Capitol Hill? Are we going back to that, if you don’t have that Hollywood appearance then your chances of success—
AP: If I looked like Sarah Palin I would exploit it to the hilt.
AP: I mean—
PH: Yeah, Annise mentioned going to campaign school. I went to one one time years ago, not thinking I’d ever be running, but one of the first things they told us, they said, if you’re over forty or fifty consider getting a face-lift if you’re going to run. Well, I got into a special election and it was a nine-way race, and I didn’t have time to get a face-lift [loud laughter], so, I mean, I thought about that the whole time, I’m thinking, oh my God, and then afterwards people knew how old I looked. So then you couldn’t get one [more laughter]. They’d all know you did it! So, you kind of get locked (?), don’t you think? People will critique you on everything. I had a man tell me one time at an event, and I’m dressed sort of like I am tonight, I thought it was fine. He said, you really need to fix up a little [laughter]. I go [inaudible over laughter]. I was so embarrassed. I really didn’t know what to say.
AP: It’s about winning. It is absolutely about winning, and if changing the color of your hair, or growing your hair out, or touching yourself up a little bit—
PH: Yeah. Do it.
AP: will get you in that next percentage to win, that’s what it takes.
KM: Um, there’s a—this came up a little bit in our conversation, not a lot. Why is it that there’s been so many more women elected? Switzerland. The question is about, in Latin America, why has there been so many more women, why—
AP: Switzerland has a mandate for parity, I believe, but—You know the answer about Latin America.
CA: Yeah, I mean, we had the wife of President Vicente Fox who was talking about running for president even before Hillary had announced. I though, my God, Mexico’s going to beat us. Um, [laughter], it’s just, it’s just, it’s more acceptable. It’s more, um, for some reason—and what’s odd, you know, in Latin America, Mexico, the men are more macho, but they seem to trust a woman to lead the country, and a lot of that has to do with, I think, because in Latin America, in Mexico, the woman is usually the person that runs the house, who is the heavy-handed one, and there’s a great deal of respect in the culture, but we are far behind, in just looking at where Switzerland is, the fact that women have only been voting since 1991, and they’re on their second female president, so—
KM: Well, a country that demands a tough leader is Israel, and they were one of the first ones to have a woman president.
AP: And not until today, do they—
KM: Have another one.
KM: This question is—I’m going to—I’ve forgotten the word. Um, black women were in an interesting position this past primary season with Obama and then Hillary as a woman. Three of you want to talk about that?
AP: I don’t know that we’re qualified to talk about the black experience.
CA: Well, I tell you, I have to give the Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee a lot of credit because she made the decision early in the process to support Hillary. She knew Hillary, had worked with her, was a big supporter of President Bill Clinton, and there was a lot of pressure put on her, and Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee is one of the most loyal individuals who you want by your side when you’re in trouble or in a fight, and I was very disappointed to see, when we had our senatorial conventions, she was booed when she was speaking on the stage, at two senatorial conventions, and thank God for say, Senator John Whitmire, Senator Rodney Ellis because it happened at both their conventions, who got—took the mike and said, this is a member of Congress, and we will respect her, and we should respect each others’ differences to support different candidates, so—
KM: But, I—
AP: There were—I have two young, black women who work for me, and they were cheering on the fact that Shelia was getting so much pressure and was booed, and they were really happy about that, and I kept saying, but, explain this to me. She gave her word; she kept her word; we want integrity in our politicians, and you’re going to—
CA: Right, right.
AP: …attack her for that. Well, she should have known where her constituents were going. She should have known that they would line up with Barak Obama, but, wait a minute, she gave her word. It’s again, so there is, there is for some people that gut reaction, and not the head but the heart.
KM: Well, I would also frame it in the question, and there was a tension, the word tension is used in the question, a tension of having to make a choice between someone like [chatter from panelists]—race and gender. I would ask it, uh, the question—I think that there are women who feel that same tension today, who because they wanted a woman as President and they want a woman as President, that feel a tension about needing to support Sarah Palin for Vice President. I’m—so, that tension, and how do you, you know, deal with that tension?
CA: Well, I—Bill Richardson was in the race, who is Hispanic, and a lot of my friends from around the country, and even some here in Houston were supporting him because he was Hispanic, and I said, well, I’m not voting for someone just because he’s Hispanic or just because their a woman, but I felt very passionate that she was the most qualified person in all of the candidates. So, yeah, sometimes there is that pressure from your peers to, you know, play the race card or play the gender card, but I think we do ourselves a disservice when we fall into that trap.
KM: Um, we have a couple of questions around what impact do you think Bill Clinton had on Hillary’s run for President, and, um, do you think some women were hesitant to support her because she stayed married to him? Going back, some history there. But the overall impact of running with a, you know, your husband is former President of the United States.
PH: Sure he had some influence, some good, some bad, and I think it probably balanced out in the end. I mean, people were angry at him because he said the things that she couldn’t say, and he had a big following, and I think it just didn’t go over as well as I think he probably thought it would when he did it, but I, certainly in supporting her, I see why he said some of the things that he did, but then, on the other hand, there has probably never been a President, maybe Lyndon Johnson or a few that have been as good to African Americans as Bill Clinton was, and I think that he was hurt that there weren’t more African Americans supporting Hillary because of—and of course, everybody was conflicted. It’s human nature, but I do think he did some good, some bad.
AP: I agree with Peggy. He was a mixed blessing for her, and there have been many women, not in the United States, as we said, but many women in other countries who have followed their husbands into high office for various reasons, and who always contend with the legacy that’s left. Overall, I think he helped her more than hurt her so that the folks who absolutely hated Bill Clinton were never going to support Hillary Clinton anyway. Of course, we could talk about, when was the last time you saw a really good sex scandal with a woman officeholder?
CA: I thought they nitpicked at him too much. I mean, everything was analyzed from how long it took him to come out on the campaign trail for Obama, from how often they’ve had conversations, and I thought it was unnecessary, but you know, your family always takes it more personal than you do, and it’s easier when you’re the one that’s getting hit and attacked, you just sort of take it, roll with the punches, but for your family, it’s more difficult, and he’s human, and he responded because he took it very personal when he felt that they were by attacking her, attacking him. I mean, he had the greatest administration with job growth, with the surplus and wanted her to continue that and took it personal.
KM: Um, it seems like issues like abortion and gay marriage and foreign policy are typically the three things that young women disagree with the Republican Party on the most. Do you see the conservative party line softening on these issues in these changing times to reclaim that group, to try to bring them back into the party? I’m going to start with you Peggy.
PH: Well, my God. Okay, abortion was one.
KM: Abortion, gay marriage, and foreign policy are the three.
PH: No, no, no, and no. I don’t see them softening that much on any of those. Number one, the foreign policy, I mean, I think they’re always tough on that. I mean, I think that’s sort of been the party line, and most people in the party agree with it, so, I mean, why is anybody going to change that?
PH: The abortion thing—softened yes, somewhat. We are every range in the Republican Party, and, I mean, you think everybody in the Republican Party was way, way over here to the right on the abortion issue. They’re not. Most everybody’s right in the middle on it. I mean, most all Republicans are. You only hear the other side, so really the issue is in most of them that believe in choice, and most of them that I know that believe in choice that are Republicans, their choice is usually not to have an abortion, so, that is a choice. But, I don’t see—I don’t see most people in the Republican Party wanting to do away with Roe v. Wade. So, not totally. I mean, we’re all human.
AP: Yeah, but that’s actually where most Democrats are at too. They aren’t way over here--
PH: Yeah. Well, I totally agree.
AP: Most of the country’s in the middle.
PH: Most of the country is in here, so I mean, as far as the party.
AP: But, the primary process sends the people from the polls.
PH: The primary process sends us out to these ends, and that’s why in primaries we never agree with each other on anything, but because in primaries—but then in a general election you’ve got to run in here where all the people are [laughter]. I mean, it makes no sense whatsoever, but it’s the way it works, and what was the other one?
KM: Gay marriage.
PH: Gay marriage. No, and I think if you listen to the vice presidential debate on that, you—I mean, marriage between a man and a woman, even your vice presidential candidate said that, so I think that’s probably where the party stands, Republican, maybe Democrat too. I don’t know.
KM: No but, I mean, there is a distinction within the Democratic and Republican Party. The Republican Party I don’t believe would recognize civil or legal benefits.
PH: Some would, some would.
[Chatter from panelists and audience.]
KM: So would you say that it’s the same as the abortion issue in the Republican party?
PH: I think, sure, I think it’s all over the place. Most people don’t even understand the issue. I mean, there are all kinds of—the civil unions and marriage. The same thing with adoption and foster parenting children, et cetera. I mean, there are ranges of all of those within the Republican Party, and most people that don’t listen to the issue, like Annise said, during primaries, they’re over here in this very—
KM: Is there a movement within the party to take back that voice from the far right side?
PH: I haven’t been that involved in the last couple of years, but—Well, John McCain, certainly he was kind of a surprise nominee to me, but I think probably because he was a more moderate voice this time was probably one of the reasons I think he won the primary. I think people wanted some moderation, and maybe, maybe even the people that are, you know, way over here, want things to sort of come back to the middle.
CA: But your party platform is still—
PH: Oh, who reads that?
CA: Yeah, well, but your party platform is still, you know, pro-life—
KM: Somebody writes it Peggy. Somebody writes it.
PH: I know.
CA: Yeah. Is still pro-life, anti-immigrant—
PH: But, I mean, I actually read it one time, and I couldn’t believe some of the things—
KM: I suspect that people would say that about the Democratic Party platform.
PH: Absolutely, I mean, have you ever read every little thing in there? You go, who’s thought this thing?
KM: Then there are things in the extremes, but—
AP: They’re written by committee.
PH: Yes, yes, and it’s done in a committee.
KM: There’s talk that Obama’s administration would nominate Hillary for Supreme Court.
KM: Oh, I’ve heard that a lot. It’s not my question, but I’ve heard that a lot.
[Chatter from audience.]
KM: Um, it’s—um, but if she were to be considered for nomination for the Supreme Court, from the female perspective, should she not accept it and wait to run for President again?
AP: Yes. Yes. That’s her choice.
PH: She’s going to have to make that decision.
AP: She would—she would open herself up to the questions about whether she’s truly qualified for the Supreme Court since she doesn’t come from the judiciary too, and I don’t know whether she’d want to fight that battle. Her choice.
PH: She has to make some of these decisions. We’ll give her that one.
KM: Um, would all three of you agree that Obama is a strong advocate for women’s issues?
PH: I’ll have to say, I don’t really know enough about his women’s issues platform, that I would even be able to answer that. I don’t know. I really don’t know enough about what he’s for, so—
CA: I’d say he’s a supporter. I wouldn’t say he’s out there waving the flag, or women’s reproductive rights or pay equity, but I think the issues that he stands for, which is strengthening our economy, our education system, and a healthcare system that is accessible and affordable, that speaks to being an advocate, issues that have a strong impact on women.
Audience Member: So does Michelle. Michelle too.
CA: Well, yeah, Michelle Obama as well.
AP: I think he is a strong advocate for women, and I don’t have a doubt about that. It is—we’ve been talking though about how it is different when you have women in there advocating for women, and women do raise the issues differently and push different issues.
KM: Um, what is the relationship for the party for you all? Um, we talked about that one of the criticisms was that the party didn’t support Hillary or was not as supportive of Hillary. Um, what is the relationship of the party for women who are running? Is the party a useful tool anymore? State, local, national?
AP: I’ve never been in a partisan race, so I’ll bow out of that one.
PH: The party can be very helpful, can be, and has been at some times. [Name], who’s a Republican political consultant, and he writes with the Court Report (?) in Austin sometimes, and he wrote a really interesting thing about six months ago that said that in his opinion he saw the Republican Party now was more being advocated from conservative talk shows rather than really the party, and I would tend to agree with him on some of that. You get a lot of that policy because so many people hear this and then the party moves in that direction because everybody’s going, well, we heard this, and this is the way it is, and this is what we are for, and whereas the party used to pretty much dictate or be out there. It was more of a grassroots thing when I first got involved in it, and there were a lot of different opinions. It was more of a big tent thing. It was the Lee Atwater and that group, and so there were varying opinions. We all had different ideas, but we had made things, certain things, you know, fiscal things that we all agreed on, and I think anymore that’s not acceptable. You more or less have to be for the whole, the whole ball of wax, and I think that’s probably not helpful getting women candidates. I mean, you have to have some leeway with people because some of us, we’re not all cookie cutters—
AP: The primary process—
PH: Yes, and it does tend to put you there, and—
KM: Carol, the role of—
CA: Yeah, I was disappointed with the party and disappointed with individuals that had served in the Clinton administration that all of a sudden forgot who put them there, but, um, and I don’t think it was an issue of because she was a woman. There was this distinction between the old guard, the new guard, and I think people just have, you know, selected memory, and I don’t think you, we should have treated the Clintons the way that they were treated because between their time and Al Gore running, that’s the administration that revived our party, that put us back on the map, that stimulated our economy, that brought prosperity to our country that gained us a respect that we lost in the world, and I just felt that she was treated unfairly by the party leadership, and I’m also disappointed that the party in the Democratic senatorial campaign has not rallied behind Rick Noriega for U.S. Senate. A lot of people don’t know that, and we have, I think one of the most qualified candidates running against one of the most vulnerable senators, John Cornyn, and Rick has received very little help from the Democratic leadership, so I can’t say that it’s just a gender thing.
KM: Um, do you think that the local and the state parties are supportive of women here?
CA: Yes, I do.
KM: Um, we’re running out of time. Do you all—I’m going to give you all an opportunity to just close. You want to start Carol?
CA: Well, I think this has been great. I hope you continue to do this. Maybe we should do a post-election briefing.
CA: I’m going to—it will be interesting to see how everything shakes out. Um, we have a lot of women judicial candidates running for office and legislators, so I think it will be a good time to come back and assess where we are, but I was pleased to see so many young women in the audience, and I hope you will consider getting involved in politics, and it doesn’t necessarily mean jumping in a running for office, but getting involved in a campaign because that usually tells you whether or not you’re going to like politics or not. But, I think in general, as women, we have to do more to keep feeding the pool of candidates, bringing in women, young women, and I do think we have to teach them that bit of history of how far women have come, but really, getting out there, supporting qualified women candidates and making sure that our voices are heard, that we’re at the table, and supporting initiatives like the Women’s Studies Program at U of H that does a tremendous job of putting the issues that are important to us. I think we’re at an exciting time in politics, and it seems like politics is the new fad, everybody is paying attention and watching the news and reading the paper and keeping up with the campaign, and that’s a good thing. I have to tell you that watching the Palin debate that I was conflicted because as a woman I did not want to see her completely fall on her face [audience noises], but then on the other hand, I didn’t want her to do extremely well [some laughter], but it’s been exciting to see a woman running for President and coming very close and see a woman running, being candidate for Vice President, so we’ve come a long way, but we have a lot of work to do, and I feel very confident with programs like this and the caliber of women that are up here talking and are making sure that we keep putting the issues out there. Again, to those of you that are in the audience, young women, please stay involved, get involved in the campaign and support women’s causes and issues. Thank you.
PH: This has just been great. Thank you so much for being here and for your input and your good questions, and I love to talk about this. It’s a passion. It really is a passion. I grew up in a family-- and voting is important; it truly is. I don’t know if any of you have gotten this e-mail that’s been going around lately, but so many, but this one I actually did read, and it’s fabulous. It goes along exactly with what Carol was talking about. It has pictures as well as a story about some of the suffragettes and how they were arrested and jailed and tortured and the things they went through to give us the vote, and it’s so inspiring, and every woman should read that. We should all pass it along to our daughters and granddaughters and nieces and whatever because I think it’s something we take for granted, and so many people don’t take advantage. It is a privilege. It is one of the biggest privileges that as Americans we have, and we need to make sure that we have all our sisters out there taking advantage of this and letting their voices be heard because if you don’t somebody else’s voice is going to be heard, and—But I really appreciate the University of Houston doing their Women’s Studies. This is just great. Like I say, it’s things like this that are going to get people interested and keep them interested and coming back, and do work on campaigns, run for office, stay involved. I was on my civic association, the first thing I did, that was one of the reasons I got involved. So, whatever you do in your community will help your political—if you ever have any political aspirations, so thank you again for being here and for being so kind to us. It’s been great.
AP: I too want to thank you all for being here, and the Women’s Studies Program puts on some great programs. The Women’s Archives are also the repository for my political papers, and I hope there are many more that I’ll be able to give them in the future. I intend to be the next mayor of Houston.
[Cheers and applause.]
AP: I don’t know whether there is—it’s going to be that untapped, pent-up frustration among women who supported Hillary, and she didn’t get there. Maybe I—
AP: Can funnel some of that into my campaign or not. But, I want to say something about Obama. If you can find a candidate that excites you, that makes you want to get up and go out and block walk and knock on doors, and just gets you wanting to evangelize then go out and work for that candidate. It really doesn’t matter whether he or she is a hundred—if it’s Sarah Palin, if it’s Barack Obama, if they’re a hundred percent on your issues or not, if you get excited about that person and you want to throw yourself into it, you need to do that, and that’s what keeps politics fresh and what makes it meaningful. I do a lot of speaking to college groups and high school groups, and I have this little speech that I give about what’s the oldest profession, and when I say it to adults [laughter] everybody kind of laughs and winks. Kids don’t know the answer to that yet, and you’re wrong. The oldest profession is government because from the time we lived in caves, there had to be some mechanism for society, where you got food, where the latrine was, where you got fresh water, who had to stay up all night and watch the fire, who had to sleep at the front of the cave where the saber-toothed tiger would some in and drag you off [laughter], who got to sleep by the fire. That’s government, and the basics of government, particularly local government, have not changed since that time. You have to have people in those positions that you would trust with your life because you literally do. And it may not seem like it at the lowest level of government, but I’m a municipal elected official. I determine whether you get your drinking water and whether it’s safe. And it goes all the way up to where you’re President of the United States and you decide whether our sons and daughters die in a foreign war. So, if there is a candidate that makes you want to stand up and cheer, go out and cheer. Do your homework; make sure that they’re the person you really want to support, and then, go for it. It’s important. Thank you.
EG: Thank you all, and please come and have cookies and some wine and talk further in the room over to your—this way.