Step aside Gentlemen, Ladies first

I have somewhat of a reputation for being controversial. But, who cares. That’s the beauty of writing your own blog. You can write whatever you like.

It seems to me that, when the chips are really down, probably the best person to lead us out of the problems we get ourselves into,  is a politician of the feminine gender. A Lady!

As many men know but will seldom acknowledge, women have many talents and traits far superior to men. You see; you chauvinists out there already want to argue with me. But it’s true.

To be fair, and just like their male counterparts, there have been female politicians who could not really hack it. But I am not interested in a spitting competition of who was better and who was worse and how and why this was the case and so on. No. I want to talk about the creme-de-la-creme of the ladies of politics. And, later in this post, I will give you some examples of who I am referring to.

Firstly, however, let me list a few of the failures so that there will be no misunderstandings. In the dunces corner we have, in no particular order and just off the top my head:

  • Samantha Power (soon to be the ex US ambassador to the UN)
  • Hillary Clinton (ex US Secretary of State and US presidential candidate)
  • Catherine Ashton (ex High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the ex First Vice President of the European Commission in the Barroso Commission)
  • Sarah Palin (ex governor of Alaska and US vice presidential candidate to partner presidential candidate John McCain)

In the 50/50 group I would nominate, among many others:

  • Margaret Thatcher (ex Prime Minister of the United Kingdom)
  • Angela Merkel (current Chancellor of Germany) – once seemed to be so full of promise but now slowly fizzling out.
  • Eva Peron (ex First Lady of Argentina)

Now, before I introduce you to two extremely bright and talented ladies in current politics, lets just acknowledge a few of the best of the past. I don’t think it’s necessary to explain who they were or what they did:

  • Diana, the Princess of Wales (UK)
  • Eleanor Roosevelt (USA)
  • Corazon Aquino (Philippines)
  • Indira Ghandi (India)
  • Benazir Bhutto (Pakistan)
  • Aung San Suu Kyi (Burma)

I do not claim to have presented the most definitive lists above, but I think you get the picture.

“When one woman is a leader, it changes her. When more women are leaders, it changes politics and policies.”

[Michelle Bachelet, President of Chile]

To help you come round to my way of thinking and to definitely give you some expert, background knowledge on this subject, here are some links that you might find interesting:

Women in European politics – time for action” (2009)

Women in Leadership Positions: Can Women Have It All” (2014)

The Female Political Career” (2015)

May I introduce you to a very switched on and intelligent fraulein, Sahra Wagenknecht. She has been involved in European politics for quite some time. From 2004 until 2009 she was a member of the European Parliament and from 2007 until now, she has held senior positions in “The Left” (Die Linke) political party in Germany. In 2009, she was elected into the German parliament, the Bundestag. In October 2012, she obtained a PhD from the Chemnitz University of Technology with a thesis titled “The Limits of Choice. Saving Decisions and Basic Needs in Developed Countries”. Her specialty is economics. She is currently the senior parliamentary group co-leader of the party in the Bundestag, along with with Dietmar Bartsch.

sahra-w-1Ms Wagenknecht is now very well known in Germany for her outspoken and sometimes very controversial views in a manner that even members of her own party describe as an “occasionally abrasive and uncompromising style”. She is Euro-skeptic, anti-Euro, anti-NATO and is critical of the USA’s actions in world affairs. She has recently ruffled the feathers of some Die Linke party members by making statements more attributable to the right wing AfD party in Germany than the Left. I would say that she is always prepared to say it like she sees it, irrespective of the consequences, whilst maintaining her integrity and moral values. Here is a recent example:

German MP: US is a threat to European peace, not Russia

“The Americans are placing nukes in Germany, supposedly to counter Putin’s aggression in the Baltics. Do the Americans seriously expect us to believe in such stupidity?” asked Ms. Wagenknecht to an applause from other MPs.

“One of the great politicians, Mr George Kennan, described NATO’s perpetual encircling of Russia as a fatal mistake, and he said this in the late 1990’s. NATO has continued to expand since then. Surrounding Russia with NATO troops will not bring peace, rather, just the opposite” says Wagenknecht, adding that Merkel’s support to this policy has been utterly irresponsible.

“NATO’s large members (US, UK, France) love to speak of Article 5, yet they are ignoring Article 1 which very clearly states that NATO is not an offensive alliance and should not engage anyone militarily. It’s quite clear, the US is breaking Article 1 and international law daily with its countless wars of aggression.”

[Speech by MP Sahra Wagenknecht in the German Parliament on 15 July 2016]

As the parliamentary leader of the largest opposition party in the German parliament, Ms Wagenknecht answers the chancellor first in plenary debates. Merkel has often made a show of ignoring her, texting and chatting with her ministers so loudly that the front benchers got a reprimand last October. And I am not surprised by this rude behavior. It is obviously a bit of a payback. I have seen television clips in which were shown Ms Wagenknecht giving some German politicians quite a hard time in the Bundestag.

However, Sahra might not be quite so well known to non-Germans. The first that I heard of her was when she appeared on the Russian television station “Russia Today”, a year or so ago. I have to say that I was immediately very impressed with what she had to say and the passion and commitment to her political cause was striking.

Sahra has a website, but unfortunately it is only in German. After reading many of her articles on Europe and the Euro Crisis, it struck me that she presents a superb point of view from a German perspective, albeit left-wing, on the issues facing us here in Europe. And to dispel all of the xenophobic rhetoric that creeps into so many discussions about Greece and other countries, please remember. These are the words of a very well educated and intelligent person in the German parliament!

On 10 July 2015, Ms Wagenknecht wrote an open letter to Angela Merkel, which was published in BILD newspaper. To illustrate the point I am trying to make, I have reproduced it here. This is not the ramblings of a member of the “European Loony Left”. This is an extremely well articulated appeal for the return of common sense and dignity in Europe!

Madam Chancellor, change your policy. Before it is too late.

Madam Chancellor,

Europe is in a bad condition. All over Europe it is the hard-working people with ordinary wages who pay most taxes while the rich people duck away. Many wage-earners are not able to live off their job income. Also in Germany. After a life of hard work, often enough, a miserable pension looms. The wealth of millionaires, however, has reached new peaks. In all of Europe the states are highly indebted because they have taken over the losses of irresponsible bankers and speculators. Greece´s debt is particularly high. Here, a corrupt political class together with Greek oligarchs and the international banks has shamelessly accumulated wealth for years and years. Since the introduction of the Euro especially, the party was on. Many small and medium-sized enterprises on the other hand were swept from the market by the new currency which was way too hard for Greece.

In the year 2010 Greece was bankrupt. It was clear already then that it would not be able to repay its debt. Yet despite that, Madam Chancellor, in 2010 you set the course for Germany and the other Euro countries to accept the liability for the Greek debt. By so doing you protected banks and hedge funds from losses in the billions. For the European tax payer who was never asked, however, this decision was a fatal error. It was clear from the beginning that a high amount of our money would be lost. Together with other parliamentarians of the Left I pointed this out to you in the Bundestag. You would not listen to it.

In the meantime Germany has more than 60 billion Euros at stake in Greece. Ever more credits were handed out in order to enable Greece to pay old debts – only because you, Madam Chancellor, did not want to acknowledge your mistake. That way the illusion of Greek solvency was upheld. In an enterprise this would be called delaying bankruptcy. The credits were given on conditions that led Greece even deeper into the crisis. The small people suffered, the Greek oligarchs became even richer. Today production in Greece is 25 per cent less as compared to 2010. There are no investments, the young generation has no perspective. Even though the Greek state has cut its expenses by almost a quarter which is more than any other European country has done, the debt has not shrunk. It is higher than it ever was. Still, Madam Chancellor, before the Greek referendum you wanted to spend another 15 billion Euro of European taxpayers´ money to have Athens pay for old debt. By taking on a new debt. The only condition you had was to oblige the Greek government to continue with the policy of the last years. The taxpayers in Germany, too, can be grateful to the Greek people that this proposal was swept from the table by their sovereign “No”.

It is time to come clean with the people. Stop burning more and more taxpayers´ money in order to disguise that a major part of the money we have already spent is gone. One day the truth will come out. The later it is the more expensive it is going to be for all of us.

Greece does not need a new “aid package” only in order to pay off old debt with new debt. Greece needs a haircut. It must be relieved, at least for three to five years, from the pressure to pay interest and repayment which it cannot shoulder by its own means anyway. Greece also does not need more social cuts but investments and a hefty levy on wealth at the expense of its oligarchs. What is necessary is an unbundling of the Greek economy in which today roundabout 800 immensely rich family clans hold solid monopolies and dictate the prices. Those are the reforms that would set the country on track, and not more pension cuts, VAT increase and privatizations.

You ought to remember: also the German reconstruction became possible by means of a generous debt haircut. After the Second World War Germany was granted a reduction of two thirds of its old debt. Only that way the economic miracle could have a full start. At that time we were indebted also to the Greeks, a debt that was never repaid. Madam Chancellor, change your policy. Before it is too late.

Sahra Wagenknecht”

More recently, the political scene in the USA has been in the spotlight for a variety of reasons. I do not believe that I am being harsh when I say that US politicians in general have not shown themselves to be very competent over the past few years. For this and many other reasons, I do not devote much time following events in America. We have enough problems of our own over here in Europe and our fair share of idiots dealing with them, to worry about the USA.

Therefore, it came as a bit of a surprise to discover that not all American politicians are clueless simpletons.

Quite by accident, I came upon a story the other day about a US politician who seems to be very different to the rest. And, you guessed it. She’s a Lady!

Tulsi Gabbard is a member of the Democratic Party and she has been the US Representative for Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District since 2012. She was first elected to the US House of Representatives in November 2012 by an overwhelming 81% vote and she is the first American Samoan, one of the first two female combat veterans and the first Hindu to serve in Congress.

This was the reason she gave for wanting to seeking Public Office:

“Disapproval ratings in Congress have never been higher. People are frustrated with the same-old politics as usual.”

“The problem in Washington is quite simple: too many of our leaders have forgotten why they’re there. They have put their own interests and those of huge corporations and rich special interests before the needs of our working families and regular people like us. They are out of touch with the realities that our families are facing to make ends meet and put food on the table, pay the electricity bill, and make sure our children have what they need.”

“If we want to break through this gridlock and start getting things done for the people of Hawaii, this culture of self-centeredness, greed, and corruption must change.”

“This is why I’m offering to serve you in Congress.”

Previously, Ms Gabbard had served in the Hawaii House of Representatives from 2002 to 2004, becoming the youngest woman in the United States to be elected to a state legislature at the time.

In April 2003, while serving in office, Ms Gabbard enlisted in the Hawaiian Army National Guard. She subsequently served in the US military forces in Iraq in 2006 and again in the Middle East in 2009. She is currently a reserve military police officer with the rank of major.

While working in Washington and during her time in the military forces, she found time to study and eventually in 2009, she graduated from the Hawaii Pacific University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration – International Business.

In the 2014 elections, she kept her seat by obtaining 79% of the vote and again in 2016 she was returned to Congress with an 81% vote.

In the House of Representatives, Ms Gabbard has served on the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees and various other sub committees in connection with Security and Defence matters.

During her entire tenure in Congress, it appears that she has often been at odds with the prevailing official Democratic Party policy on many issues and this is also reflected in her official stated political position on many subjects. So it seems that this is obviously a lady who marches to her own drum.

In the run-up to the recent presidential election, Tulsi Gabbard encountered some difficulties due to the stances that she took. Firstly, she resigned her position as a vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee in February 2016 in order to endorse Senator Bernie Sanders for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination and she was the first female Democratic Party member of Congress to endorse Sanders. At the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Gabbard gave the nominating speech putting his name forward.

tulsi-gabbard Furthermore, in July 2016, Ms Gabbard launched a petition to end the Democratic Party’s process of appointing superdelegates in the nomination process, and ran ads for the petition on Facebook.

The shocker came in October 2016 when Wikileaks released a batch of e-mails from the gmail account of John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential election campaign. One e-mail, which was addressed to Tulsi Gabbard, was forwarded to Podesta by Michael Kives, who was copied in on the original e-mail. The sender of the original e-mail was Darnell Strom and in it he criticized Ms Gabbard for endorsing Bernie Sanders for president:

From: Darnell Strom                                                                   Sent: Monday, February 29, 2016 3:13 PM                                 To: Tulsi Gabbard (<>) Cc: Michael Kives

Subject: Disappointed

Representative Gabbard,

We were very disappointed to hear that you would resign your position with the DNC so you could endorse Bernie Sanders, a man who has never been a Democrat before. When we met over dinner a couple of years ago I was so impressed by your intellect, your passion, and commitment to getting things done on behalf of the American people. For you to endorse a man who has spent almost 40 years in public office with very few accomplishments, doesn’t fall in line with what we previously thought of you. Hillary Clinton will be our party’s nominee and you standing on ceremony to support the sinking Bernie Sanders ship is disrespectful to Hillary Clinton. A woman who has spent the vast majority of her life in public service and working on behalf of women, families, and the underserved.

You have called both myself and Michael Kives before about helping your campaign raise money, we no longer trust your judgement so will not be raising money for your campaign.

Darnell Strom & Michael Kives “

Former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, who also campaigned on behalf of Sanders, later spoke to The New York Times and voiced concerns over the contents of that e-mail, saying:

“Here you have a very good public servant in Hawaii that went with her heart, and what she gets are threats by the moneyed machine.”

Now Tulsi is rocking the boat again. In support of legislation that she is trying to get adopted by Congress, she has accused the US government of routinely violating US law by ‘directly or indirectly supporting allies and partners of groups like al-Qaida and ISIS with money, weapons, intelligence and other support in their fight to overthrow the Syrian government.’

by Kit O’Connell (14 December 2016)

AUSTIN, Texas — Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat from Hawaii, is spearheading a bipartisan effort to force the United States to stop arming extremist groups in Syria.

The bill, known as the Stop Arming Terrorists Act, would make it illegal for U.S. funds to be spent in ways that directly or indirectly support terrorist groups such as al-Qaida and Daesh (an Arabic acronym for the terrorist group commonly known in the West as ISIS or ISIL).

“The bill singles out ISIS, al-Qaeda, and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (the ‘rebranded’ version of al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front) and forbids support to them, their allies,” Jason Ditz reported for on Thursday.

Gabbard is a distinguished veteran of the Hawaii Army National Guard who has served in the Middle East. In the House, she serves on the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees.

Co-sponsors of the bill come from both sides of the aisle and around the country: Reps. Peter Welch, a Democrat from Vermont; Barbara Lee, a Democrat from California; Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican from California; and Thomas Massie, a Republican from Kentucky.

In a speech introducing the bill to the House on Thursday, Gabbard accused the U.S. government of breaking its own laws while seeking regime change in Syria. She explained:

“Under U.S. law, it is illegal for you or me, or any American, to provide any type of assistance to al-Qaida, ISIS or other terrorist groups. If we broke this law we’d be thrown in jail. Yet the U.S. government has been breaking this law for years, directly and indirectly supporting allies and partners of groups like al-Qaida and ISIS with money, weapons, intelligence, and other support in their fight to overthrow the Syrian government.”

Officially, the U.S. government has offered training, intelligence, and assistance to so-called “moderate” rebel groups in Syria, but there’s ample evidence that this material has freely flowed to terrorist groups opposed to the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Several rebel groups scattered or defected after receiving U.S. training, and according to a December 2015 episode of the BBC Radio 4 series “The Report,” American and British military aid to the so-called “moderate” rebels is treated like a “Wal-Mart” for extremists.

WikiLeaks’ archives of U.S. diplomatic cables show that the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Israel have been planning since at least 2006 to provoke strife and civil war in the region as a means to overthrow the Syrian government.

Even the U.S. mainstream media has been forced to acknowledge the growing ties between rebels and extremists. In November, The New York Times reported on the efforts by Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaida’s affiliate in Syria, to rebrand itself as Jabhat al-Sham in order to outwardly distance itself from al-Qaida and attract more U.S. government aid. As a result, as the Wall Street Journal reported in September, other Syrian rebel groups are growing increasingly brazen in their cooperation with al-Qaida.

“This alliance has rendered the phrase ‘moderate rebels’ meaningless,” Gabbard declared in her speech.

“We must stop this madness. We must stop arming terrorists,” she concluded.

Gabbard’s alliance of representatives could receive the support of the incoming administration. Last month, President-elect Donald Trump told the Wall Street Journal that he was likely to abandon U.S. efforts to arm Syrian rebels. “We have no idea who these people are,” he said.

And while U.S. support for rebels and a proposed no-fly zone in Syria have helped to inflame tensions with Russia’s government, Trump’s also shown he intends to normalize relations with Russia.

However, as the president-elect fills his Cabinet with generals and others with ties to the military-industrial complex, it remains to be seen if or how he’ll follow through on this promise to curb U.S. empire-building in the Middle East.”

At present, neither of these ladies are in line for influential political positions, although they are playing significant roles in the politics of their respective countries. However, if the people in power had any sense, they would fast-track them into positions where they could really make a difference. And I am sure some things would definitely improve.

PS – Waiting in the wings:

  • Zoe Gardner (hint – DiEM25)
  • Ada Colau (hint – Barcelona)
  • Frauke Petry (hint – Germany)

About Peter Smith

A "foot-soldier" in the wider Post Capitalism Movement. First task - keep spreading the words of change, hope & inspiration.
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5 Responses to Step aside Gentlemen, Ladies first

  1. Pingback: Tulsi Gabbard: will aloha be enough to influence US politics? | Thoughts on European Politics & Economics

  2. Pingback: A glimmer of light in a sea of darkness | Thoughts on European Politics & Economics

  3. Pim says:

    How about Ulrike Guérot also as a waiting in the wings candidate. Founder and director of the European Democracy Lab. Refreshing the Eurotopian idea,,_A_Eurotopia%3F


    • Peter Smith says:

      Hmm, maybe. She’s a bit too much of an academic (at least at the moment) to make it onto my WitW list. I am only considering active or very near-active ladies in politics.

      But thanks for the intro. I have now read a little of what she supports as “Europe as a Republic”. I will need to delve more deeply into what this proposal really means and how it differs with the DiEM25 proposals. I gather that Guérot supported the more traditional “United States of Europe” concept in the past although from a conservative, right wing political perspective. Since this idea has largely been abandoned and relegated to the history books, she and her colleagues have now re-framed their ideas into the “European Republic” concept. I will be keeping an eye on this development.

      What you failed to mention was that a modified version of the “United States of Europe” idea actually came from Freddie Heineken and he was spot on about the reasons why such an idea would be successful in the long run. The problem would be, of course, is how do you get the people to accept such a proposal? You guys in the Netherlands have a bit of experience with this sort of thing with the Benelux idea, although I know that the structure and reasons for that were very different.


      • Pim says:

        I thought the question was, do we trust female politicians over male politicians?. In general I would say yes. Do I trust academics over politicians?.Again, in general I would say yes.
        There was a broadcast on Dutch TV the other week and what appealed to me was her emphasis on a Europe for people instead of an Europe only for corperations.

        She didn’t strike me as a conservative but as rather to the left in a non assuming way. .A kind of Yanis without Marxism.

        How to achieve that? Well, by probably by creating a pan European party. Freddy Heineken was no left wing radical, but he was right in his analysis that you will never have a democratic Europe if it remains based on nation states.


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