Tag Archives: politics

The Other Side of the Couch – Does Marching Matter? 

Following hard on the surprising election of Donald Trump, marches and protests have taken place across the United States and, indeed, across the world.  Beginning with the Women’s March, which took place the day after the inauguration, and which saw record crowds in almost all the areas in which it took place, most of these marches have been buoyed by a spirit of hope and connection.  The march in Nashville, Tennessee was described by the Tennessean as follows:

“About 15,000 people marched in downtown Nashville Saturday in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington.  Middle Tennesseans marched for one mile from Cumberland Park to Public Square in support of a myriad of social justice issues, including women’s rights, reproductive rights, LGBT rights, worker’s rights, civil rights, disability rights, immigrant rights, environmental justice and access to health care.”  The Tennessean, Jan. 21, 2017

Since that march, other events have taken place, including town hall meetings with legislators, such as the one held on February 21, 2017 with Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R).

The question for me is this:  Does any of this matter?

Andreas Madestam, Daniel Shoag, Stan Veuger, and David Yanagizawa-Drott say that it does.  In a paper quoted below, “Do Political Protests Matter, Evidence from the Tea Party Movement,” the authors suggest the following:


Can protests cause political change, or are they merely symptoms of underlying shifts in policy preferences?  We address this question by studying the Tea Party movement in the United States, which rose to prominence through coordinated rallies across the country on Tax Day, April 15, 2009.  We exploit variation in rainfall on the day of these rallies as an exogenous source of variation in attendance.  We show that good weather at this initial, coordinating event had significant consequences for the subsequent local strength of the movement, increased public support for Tea Party positions, and led to more Republican votes in the 2010 midterm elections. Policymaking was also affected, as incumbents responded to large protests in their district by voting more conservatively in Congress.  Our estimates suggest significant multiplier effects: an additional protester increased the number of Republican votes by a factor well above one. Together our results show that protests can build political movements that ultimately affect policymaking, and that they do so by influencing political views rather than solely through the revelation of existing political preferences.

  1. Madestam, et. al. The Quarterly Journal of Economics (2013) 128 (4): 1633-1685

The authors’ analysis shows that protests increased the turnout in the following congressional elections.  Thus, protests and marches DO affect legislators and affect turnout.  Keep on marching – but don’t forget to do the work of organizing and getting out the vote!

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP:

Susan is a communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, and proud native Nashvillian. She has been in private practice for over 30 years. As she says, “I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts.”  Contact Susan at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com

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Filed under History, Uncategorized

Women and the White House

White House


The current election cycle is a reminder of how far our country still has to go in its treatment of women. We’ve never had a woman president. To understand why, take a look at the history of women presidential candidates.

The first woman to run for president was Victoria Woodhull. She had to form her own party because the established political parties refused to acknowledge her candidacy.  After all, women couldn’t even vote back in 1872. Woodhull ran on a platform of “free love,” meaning legal protection for abused women and no-fault divorces.  Preachers denounced her as an offense to God and the natural order of things.

A century later in 1972, Shirley Chisholm ran for president as a Democratic Party candidate.  Every time her name was mentioned, people laughed. No one believed a black woman should be, or could be, president. Her presidential run is a footnote because 1972 was the year of Nixon’s reelection and the beginning of the Watergate scandal.

In 1984, no woman ran for president, but Democrat Walter Mondale selected Geraldine Ferraro as his vice presidential candidate. They lost by a landslide to incumbent Ronald Reagan, but their campaign wasn’t helped by the attacks against Ferraro and her husband. Her husband was Italian-American and he owned a construction company in New York City.  Voters were warned that a vote for Geraldine was a vote for the Mob.

This time around, Carly Fiorina and Hillary Clinton announced White House runs.  Ms. Fiorina dropped out early. Her critics warned that she would be a lousy president because she was a difficult boss and showed poor business judgment while she was CEO of Hewlett Packard.  Hillary Clinton stands accused of dishonesty, poor leadership and owing her political life to Wall Street bankers.

Historically, male candidates have also been accused of poor business judgment, poor leadership, not playing well with others and being in hock to special interests. But these “character” flaws are rarely considered a serious handicap for male candidates.

What does this tell us about our country?

  1. Women are deemed un-presidential for exhibiting the same qualities that apparently make men presidential material.
  2. Women only appear on a major party’s ticket when that party is expected to lose the general election.

Would a woman make a good president? I don’t know. I do know that some incredibly useless, incompetent and politically tin-eared men have occupied that esteemed office.  A woman president could hardly do worse damage than the male duds.

I’d like to see women of all political persuasions work together to fight the social stereotypes that automatically discount women as presidential material.  Years ago, a cigarette brand marketed to women used the tagline “We’ve come a long way, baby!”

I think we’ve still got a long way to go.

About Norma Shirk

Norma started her company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, to help employers create human resources policies for their employees and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to have structure without bureaucracy. Visit Norma’s website: www.complianceriskadvisor.com/.

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