At the California Democrats Fall Endorsing Convention this weekend in Long Beach the issue that is seen and heard everywhere is the role of women in the party.
Building on Hillary Clinton’s strong performance in 2016 and the California legislature having more female members than ever before, every facet of the convention made sure to include the representation of women.
“More and more women are being drawn to what California has done,” said Mackenzie Hollister, a UC Berkeley student and Delegate. “We’ve had female Senators for years, a large presence in the state Legislature and in the Senate. A lot of the party leaders are now women. Even the Republicans have seen the tide. They just had a woman win an Assembly seat.”
“You know, we’ve had generations working on greater equality for women, and this is where we are. And at this convention, with all the focus, I think it just goes to show how far we’ve come and how many people don’t even think twice about it.”
Another delegate, Andrea Cortez of Stockton, felt the same way.
“We have Warren this year who might win it all. With Geraldine Ferraro as [a Democratic party candidate] VP in ’84, all it was to many of us was a gimmick to get votes,” explained Cortez. “All everyone talked to her about was her gender. [Sarah] Palin was largely the same, but with a lot more scrutiny on her life and her experience. With Clinton and Warren though, they’re just candidates. It’s what we wanted.”
“Now all we need is a female president,” she chuckled.
Despite all the praise over the gains of women in the last several decades, there were still many displays of inequality at the Convention.
Outside the convention a protest brewed. Fueled by the gender pay gap, dozens of women dressed as suffragettes to get their point across.
“Men are paid about a dollar more per hour for the same amount of work in the same jobs,” said protester Janice Stephens. “We need legislation to ensure that men and women are paid. We’re slowly reaching that right now, but we can easily make it law. But we don’t. It’s insane.”
Another protester next to her, Betsy. who only gave the Globe her first name, chimed in with a slightly different response.
“Virginia is going to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment next year. They’ll be the 38th state, and that means it may become an amendment,” noted Betsy. “This would give us all equality, and that’s what we want. California approved the ERA in 1972, but we’ve been waiting nearly 50 years for this.”
A woman next to her, Danielle McClure, also joined into the interview.
“I was in Washington in ’72 trying to get it passed,” said McClure. “It’s been a long time coming.”
Back inside the convention hall, booths for the League of Women Voters and Planned Parenthood were among the most popular, spreading the message of female empowerment and voting. Kelsie Hall, a podcast host and a rare Republican at the Convention, said to the Globe “Everyone I talked to today is really trying to get the point across that only Democrats have helped women and ignore the fact that Republicans have been for the majority of issues here too. They aren’t bringing up the fact that Nixon supported ERA. They aren’t talking about the massive support from Republicans. They aren’t mentioning the fact that female Republican participation has been on par with the rise the Democrats have had.
“You’re right to mention that they’re really pushing that angle, but what they’re trying to do is make it seem as if women have only one choice for a party to support,” McClure added.
With the election less than a year away, Democrats are hard at work at solidifying their female voting bloc, but as the Convention shows, they aren’t using the whole story to get support.