Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bipartisanship and Baby Showers

During a forum on women’s issues in the economic sphere, President Obama asked an audience of women from across the nation, “Is it possible that Congress will get more done if there were more women in Congress? ...Is that fair to say? I think it’s fair to say. That is almost guaranteed.”

Currently, fewer than 20% of the seats in Congress are held by women. Despite gains over the past few decades, the legislative process is still a predominantly in the hands of men. With the current approval rating for Congress hovering around new lows, talk about a grand change up in our legislature is at an all time high. Would getting a few more XX chromosome pairs in the House and Senate improve our legislature’s efficiency?

According to an article entitled “How the Senate’s WomenMaintain Bipartisanship and Civility” in The Daily Beast, it would at least improve the civility in which the body operates. While male members of congress are swearing at each other and launching ad hominem attacks on national news, the women of the Senate have seemingly attained something their peers have long since lost: cordiality. The article goes into detail in describing the various events that female senators create and attend events that include bipartisan representation: “[Sen.] Klobuchar [D-MN] is in charge of games for the upcoming [baby] shower for Republican Sen. Susan Collins [R-ME].” These kinds of events are apparently not commonplace among congressmen and may be representative of the lack of civility in discourse that factors into gridlock.

The article doesn’t, however, go into specifics on the actions of female Senators inside the chamber. Voting in lockstep with your party to use the filibuster and disrupting the procedure are still decreasing the effectiveness of the legislature. So, I ask of the readers: is there substantial evidence that the courtesy that female senators are showing each other translates into bipartisanship or more respectable behavior during the process?

1 comment:

  1. It's very interesting to note how such a distinct subculture has sprung up in Washington. I think this probably does alleviate some of the political tension in the capital. Anything that promotes general civility among members of Congress is helpful when it comes to gridlock. I'm just not sure how one would go about measuring such an effect in an absolute way. I would be inclined to think that it helps in terms of attitude rather than in specific procedural actions. In any case, it's definitely worth noting and thinking about - thanks for sharing.