During a recent election season — one that now seems as long ago as the Middle Ages, and as filled with quaint and diabolically dangerous customs — I was sitting in a windowless conference room with two colleagues from the editorial board, snacking and chatting, drinking water from plastic bottles, waiting on a politician.
I’m afraid that’s all gone to Zoom in the future, along with hand-shaking, back-slapping folks bounding into a room with their demure aides and Cheshire-cat smiles. From now on, it’s the small screen, baby.
But in the past members of editorial boards during the ritual endorsement process were forever waiting in actual rooms on a scheduled politician, or a would-be one, to rotate in every hour on the hour and make their cases for the newspaper’s support of their bids for office.
It’s not a bad way to make a living, and I ain’t complaining. Bit boring. Beats digging ditches, as one could note to one’s father, who used to warn of such in periods of indolence.
So, in between candidates, just shooting the breeze with the guys — men, as editorial board members are wont to be — I suddenly, capriciously, with no malice aforethought — with no thought at all, in fact — tossed out a verbal notion.
“I don’t think men should be allowed to vote,” I said.
“What!” one colleague sputtered. “What do you mean?”
“Just that. I suppose that means they — we — wouldn’t be allowed to run for office, either. Oh, well. You’d miss your Barack Obamas, but not so much your George Wallaces.”
“But — why?”
“‘Cause we messed up,” I said. “We had our chances, and we blew it, man. Give the women, I don’t know, say a thousand years, and then take stock. After all, we didn’t let them vote until a century ago.”
My colleague wasn’t having it. “You just want the women to rule ‘cause most of their politics are more aligned with yours.”
“And your point is?”
As it happened, we were meeting with two very powerful Los Angeles women politicians that day, District Attorney Jackie Lacey and county Supervisor Kathryn Barger. On the Board of Supes, incredibly, four of the five members are women. Elsewhere, while there has been progress on the dump-the-dull-men front, it’s not much. When I began covering Pasadena City Hall as a cub reporter 35 years ago, two of the seven City Council members were women. Now, one of eight is.
The proof of the political pudding — the eating of it — is right there in the success stories about battling today’s real-world crisis. Women-led nations are doing a vastly better job stomping down the coronavirus pandemic than are backwaters run by boring, bumbling blokes. Last week, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced her country had essentially eradicated, not just controlled, the spread of COVID-19, and that her lockdown of March 25 could end. As Amanda Taub reported in The New York Times: “Germany, led by Angela Merkel, has had a far lower death rate than Britain, France, Italy or Spain. Finland, where Prime Minister Sanna Marin, 34, governs with a coalition of four female-led parties, has had fewer than 10 percent as many deaths as nearby Sweden. And Tsai Ing-wen, the president of Taiwan, has presided over one of the most successful efforts in the world at containing the virus, using testing, contact tracing and isolation measures to control infections without a full national lockdown.”
I’m going with what works. I sing, with Robert Palmer, “That’s right — the women are smarter.” Men, maybe we’re good at other things. Over the millennium, we can work on finding out just what they are.
Larry Wilson is on the editorial board of the Southern California News Group. email@example.com.