So a female presidential candidate attends a women’s function hosted by organizations of female legislators and female voters. Sounds nice and … female – right?
Wrong, says Susan Y. Smith, president of the South Carolina Democratic Women’s Council that co-hosted Hillary Clinton’s May 27 event in the state capitol of Columbia. This correlation, Smith says, is nothing but coincidence.
As for actual cause, Clinton’s attendance at the Day in Blue in Columbia, also hosted by the state legislature’s Democratic Women’s Caucus, was a sharp campaign strategy, Smith finds. Women make up a majority of registered voters in both the state and nationwide, after all, and were 61 percent of all participants in South Carolina’s last Democratic primary. The Palmetto State is also early on the slate of presidential primaries and hosts the first one in the southern U.S. next February, too. As a result, Smith says, “any smart candidate would want to appeal to women first.”
And the topics that Clinton spoke of to these women’s organizations weren’t introduced for any other reason than the fact that … well, they’re facts. Take her comments on income inequality, for example:
Too many women still earn less than men on the job. Women of color often make even less. Then there’s the so-called ‘motherhood penalty.’
Clinton’s very correct on that issue, too. Currently, women are paid 22 percent less than men for the same work. Minority women approach the plate with two strikes against them; African-American women earn 36 percent less than men, and pay is 46 percent lower for Hispanic females.
To correct this disparity, Clinton offered support for the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill she introduced to the U.S. Senate multiple times beginning in 2005, she said, and which was recently reintroduced by Sen. Barbara Mikulski.
It’s time to get this done once and for all.
To get it done correctly, though, would require more transparency in job salaries, she said.
Women need information to negotiate. You can’t stand up for equal pay if you don’t know you’re not paid equally. Postings of new jobs should include salary ranges.
Lower paying jobs need a pay increase, too, Clinton added. “We need to raise pay for the lowest paid jobs in America,” she said, adding that such employment is disproportionately held by women – especially minority women.
In most states today, waitresses, bartenders, and hairstylists who rely on tips are paid even lower than the minimum wage.
And to back up the fact that these aren’t “women-only” issues, Clinton pointed out that these issues don’t affect women alone, but entire families. Forty percent of mothers are the primary income earner in U.S. households, if not the sole earner, Clinton said. As a result:
This isn’t a women’s issue. This is an American issue. […] The entire family is shortchanged.
And with that summation does Susan Y. Smith’s argument make perfect sense. Clinton’s platform isn’t gender-oriented; it’s American-oriented, with goals of filling in gaps that have been present for too long, and that affect too many – both women and men.
Clinton finished second in South Carolina’s 2008 primary with 26.5 percent of the vote. The first Democrat to officially declare a 2016 campaign, she leads the state’s primary polls with an average take of 62 percent.
South Carolina’s presidential primary – the first in the south and potentially fourth overall nationwide – is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 20, 2016.
Images by Rob Groce