GOVERNOR LINDA LINGLE (2002-2010) – Women voters turn out to the polls in greater numbers than men. However, in 2012 we have seen this important majority of the voting public degraded to little more than a political pawn in this year’s election cycle.
As a woman who came of age in the 1970s, when decades of battles to equalize the rights of women and men were being realized, I grew up during a time when women suddenly had choices about our education, our careers, our bodies and therefore our lives. I won’t allow us to go backward.
It pains me deeply to see members of my own party attempting to legislate women’s health and contraception choices. Throughout my years of public service, I have listened with great interest to both sides of these often controversial issues. The positions taken were argued with equivalent passion and effectiveness. But I have always been an ardent supporter of women’s rights, including a woman’s right to choose.
In holding this position, I have continued to respect the deeply-held, diverse beliefs of colleagues and supporters, and others who oppose “choice”, but my position has never changed.
These discussions are too important to be subject to election-year jabs slung by both political parties. Additionally, it is both insulting and ridiculous to assume that such a significant group of influential voters focuses their attention only on one set of issues.
Women voters care deeply about a range of other issues which affect our finances, our jobs, our companies, our families, the education of our children, the security of our nation, the energy used to power our homes, vehicles and businesses, the cost of healthcare, and many other issues. I believe that people want their elected leaders in Congress to deal with these serious issues.
When election year rhetoric subsides and we take the time to thoughtfully and respectfully debate all of these issues, it is critically important that we have articulate, thoughtful, effective women leaders of both parties elected to the U.S. Senate. Electing pro-choice Republican women can help foster a discussion that reflects the full spectrum of views and can lead to a more balanced and responsible public dialogue.
Linda Lingle served as Governor of the State of Hawaii from 2002-2010 and is a current candidate for Hawaii’s open U.S. Senate seat.