nikki van hightower
By all indications, women have broken a new barrier. They are
now recognized as a voting bloc by political aspirants. Such
recognition has important implications. It means that women
are being regarded as having group identity and interests. It
means they are now seen as having enough "clout" to make
their support worth pursuing. The bottom line is that women's
rights issues are being incorporated into candidates' platforms.
The American electoral process emphasizes winning. It de-
emphasizes ideology. Politicians do not typically incorporate
issues of interest groups into their platforms without expecting
payoffs in either votes or money. Until women organized effectively on their own behalf, politicians were reluctant to be
identified with their interests.
There were some powerful myths and stereotypes to overcome before women could receive political recognition. The
strongest and most insidious was that all women vote like their
husbands. In other words, there were only men's interests. It
was also assumed that fewer women voted than men and that
they were not as interested in politics. In the political beehive,
men were the "queen bees" and women the "drones."
During this election, the support of women's rights groups
and activists has been openly sought by candidates for all major statewide and local offices.
Attorney general candidates Price Daniel, Jr. and Mark
White have active women:s support and fund raising groups.
Gubernatorial aspirant John Hill has his Women on the Hill
Side. And even the incumbent has his Briscoe Ladies.
The natural reaction in this election is to devote time and
energy to the more visible offices. However, I offer a word of
caution. Women cannot afford to ignore the less visible offices,
particularly the judgeships. These are the people that women
have to face in divorce trials, rape cases and child custody
hearings. Judges are not, and probably never have been,
dispassionate appliers of the law. Their backgrounds, personalities, attitudes and beliefs enter into each decision. Women
must be familiar with these individual characteristics.
This is no easy task. Because it is so difficult for all citizens,
there has long been debate over whether judges should be appointed or elected. The case for appointment is that merit
qualifications could be established, and only the most qualified selected.
But who would make the appointments? The governor?
The Texas Bar Association? An "impartial" commission? Who
would select the commission members? None of the alternatives bode well for women because there is little chance of
their having a voice in the selection process. Imperfect as it
may be, I still opt for battling it out at the polls.
The Harris County Women's Political Caucus screens all
candidates. Anyone is welcome to join the Caucus, participate
in screening and making endorsements of candidates. For all
people concerned with women's rights, those endorsements
can serve as guidelines for making electoral decisions.
It looks as if women have reached the walking stage in politics. That is, women have gained recognition as a viable political interest group. Stage two is learning to run.
Breakthrough readers are voters. The fact that 94% of you
voted in the last election* did not go unnoticed by candidates
running for public office. (Notice the campaign advertising in
this expanded issue). Clearly, candidates want your vote.
At Breakthrough we felt the need to provide you with solid
news stories-informing not endorsing. A team of writers
worked on the major races.
Intrepid Red Zenger is back reporting with slings and ar
rows on the 1978 Texas Governor's race. Journalist Barbara
Karkabi recently interviewed Jehan Sadat, the prime minister
of Lebanon, and other notables in the Middle East, so we
turned her loose on the 18 candidates for the U.S. Senate and
Congressional races. She placed hundreds of phone calls.
Everyone but Joe Archer responded-even Dr. Ron Paul,who
ended his interview with a sigh of resignation and a "I don't
know what good this will do me."
Maxine McCall Atlas took on the District 18 race for Barba
ra Jordan's House seat, while Judith McClary looked at the At
torney General race where both candidates in the Democratic
primary are openly courting the women's vote.
Kathleen Williamson researched the role of the county in
Texas government for her story on the county judge race. Art
editor Anita Davidson canvassed women lawyers on their views
of judges—and why incumbents serve life terms-or so it seems.
Attorney Jerry McAffee devised a quick civics course on
the structure of the Harris County Courts. To explore grass
roots politics, Emilie Farenthold researched the ACORN story
for writer Gary Allison Morey. And Rice sociology professor,
Chandler Davidson had an assignment he couldn't refuse-an
interview with the Godmother of Texas liberals, Billie Carr.
We all learned a lot about Texas politics and politicians.
We hope you'll find some of it useful on May 6.
*from the first readership survey September 19 77 to which
25% of our subscribers responded.
writers C8> stories
Nikki Van Hightower
Maxine McCall Atlas
Gary Allison Morey
Marilyn Marshall Jones
Deborah Diamond Hicks
Q: is this an important election year, Billie?
A: Every year is an important election year
Guest editorial: Clout
The Barbara Jordan seat: Who deserves to win?
Governor's race: Election time is compromise time
Feminist vote split on U.S. Senate race
Attorney General's race: Courting the women's vote
County judge race: County autonomy
Guess who's running for office?
ACORN to City: Clean up your act!
Artist Roberta Harris. "It's all about sharing . . ."
Book review: Ballots and Bloomers
Book Review: The Managerial Woman
Book Review: Capitalist Patriarchy
and the Case for Socialist Feminism
Bye, bye, Clydes: "Hello Hooray"
Bar rules on the bench
The Congressional races
Seminar planned: On Women and Change
Advertising Ailene English
Art Charley Kubricht, Gary Allison Morey, Loretta Standard
Business Jody Blazek, Deborah Diamond Hicks
Circulation Maxine Atlas, Deborah Diamond Hicks, Nancy Landau, Sharman Petri
Copy Editors Donna Adair, Janice Blue, Gabrielle Cosgriff, Deborah Diamond Hicks,
Catherine Johns, Marilyn Marshall Jones, Marianne Warfield Kostakis,
Gary Allison Morey, Brad Miller
Editorial Board Janice Blue, Gabrielle Cosgriff, Marilyn Marshall Jones, Victoria Hodge
Lightman, Kathleen Williamson
Feature Editors Art-Anita Davidson; Books-Marianne Warfield Kostakis;
Film-Victoria Hodge Lightman; Health-Dr. Marrie Richards;
Pats & Pans-Gabrielle Cosgriff; Poetry -Joannie Whitebird
Office Maxine Atlas, Janice Blue, Sharman Petri
Photographers Janice Blue, Marilyn Marshall Jones, Nancy Landau, Brad Miller, Gary
Allison Morey, Sharman Petri, Janice Rubin, Totsie, Jim Youngmeier
Production Janice Blue, Gabrielle Cosgriff, Victoria Hodge Lightman, Marilyn
Marshall Jones, Gary Allison Morey, Loretta Standard,
Proofreading Gabrielle Cosgriff, Marilyn Marshall Jones
Typesetting Rachel Burke, Cheryl Knott, Victoria Hodge Lightman, Gary Allison
Morey, Lynne Mutchler
Second-class postage paid at Houston, Texas.
Houston Breakthrough is published monthly (except for the bi-monthly issues of July-August and December-
January) by the Breakthrough Publishing Company, 1708 Rosewood, Houston, TX 77004; P.O. Box 88072,
Houston, TX 77004; Tel. 713/526-6686. Subscriptions are $5 per year, newsstand 50 cents per copy. This
publication is on file at the International Women's History Archive in the Special Collections Library, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 6020L .