Women To The Rescue

In the period between the 2016 election and the 2018 midterms, Harvard political scientist Theda Skocpol published a fascinating study. (A quick and dirty google search failed to find the link–if someone has it, please provide it in the comments.) She and a graduate student studied resistance groups that had emerged outside dependably blue cities and coastal areas, and found that they defied the common clichés. Most were based in suburbs or smaller cities, they weren’t particularly leftist, and most were run by middle-aged and older women who hadn’t been politically active before Trump’s victory jolted them out of complacency.

They were predominantly middle-class women’s networks, although with some men in them, and Skocpol predicted that, if the Democrats took the House in 2018, they would be a major reason.

I thought of that research when I received a lengthy email from a reader of this blog, telling me about just such a group here in red Indiana. She said that her particular story had started “on that awful day in November of 2016, when we all woke up in a fetal position…” She had quit her job of 17 years, and devoted herself full-time to bringing women in her local community in northwest Indiana together. Their initial efforts met with frustration.

In 2018, some ran for office, many ran for Precinct Committee Chair.  We all ran for State Convention Delegate.  We had a grand day out, demanding the Dem party establish a Women’s Caucus with voting rights on the SCC.  We navigated the convoluted system with no help from the party, and got a resolution passed and included in the platform package approved by the entire delegation.  Our posse was walking on air for a few weeks when we were informed by the State Chair that there would be no Women’s Caucus.  The Chair took a lesson from legislative committee chairs who listen to compelling testimony on popular bills, then decide not to take a vote.

The rebuff led to the establishment of a state-wide organization: 25 Women for 2020. The invitation to participate begins as follows, and explains the purpose of the new organization:

 You are cordially invited to participate in 25 Women for 2020, an Indiana-wide network of Democratic women candidates running for the Indiana House and Senate.

An Historic Opportunity

2018 was a landmark year. 45 Democratic women ran for the Indiana state legislature. Only 18 won their seats, but the other 27 gained invaluable experience and name recognition, positioning them for success in 2020.

The electoral prospects of this cohort of candidates will help and be helped by a spirited and consequential Presidential election. The Democratic candidate will need the mobilization of voters in every corner of Indiana; and women Democratic candidates will be well-served by the political optimism and enthusiasm which only a Presidential race can bring.

Participation in the 25 Women for 2020 Network will bring you the support of other women who are facing many of the same challenges as you. Each will bring their experience, knowledge, understanding, and support to make ALL members of the Network much stronger. The Network staff, Board of Directors, and Advisory Board Members will bring their experience and expertise to further support the strength of the Network and each candidate’s campaigns.

The network promises to provide “open, supportive and effective peer support” to those candidates. They have a website, and a presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Politically-active Hoosiers can appreciate the multiple barriers these Democratic women face in a gerrymandered, rurally-dominated state. But even the candidates who do not prevail will motivate turnout among Democratic voters in 2020, and test the limits of Trumpification in the state.

Women’s groups like this one were key to Democratic victories in 2018, and they will be critically important in 2020. They deserve all the support we can give them.


  1. Shelia; I copied and pasted the info below from a web site, Pacific Standard, an article “How Middle-Aged Women May Save American Democracy” by Tom Jacobs, July 16, 2018. I need to return to the item for what may be the study you are seeking.

    “Most people point to the fierce and principled advocacy of student survivors. But Theda Skocpol, a longtime professor of government and sociology at Harvard University, argues that’s only part of the story.

    “I think part of the reason were these networked women’s groups everywhere,” she said in a recent interview. “They provided a little more oomph behind what the younger people wanted to do. I know of a bunch of conservative places where the existing Resistance networks provided support for a group of high-schoolers who wanted to do something.”

    Democrats are despondent at the moment, reeling from the realization they are powerless to prevent the very conservative Brett Kavanagh to the Supreme Court. But Skocopol, who has been studying the American political scene for 40 years, sees a silver lining for the left.

    She argues liberals are beginning to see that their preferred method of political success—controlling the presidency and the courts—is no longer effective. It’s time, she says, to get back to old-fashioned political organizing—which is precisely what the grassroots groups she studies are doing.

    Skocpol described her findings, and what the Democrats need to do in the short run to regain momentum, in a telephone interview late last week.”

  2. Sorry; I couldn’t find reference to a published study by Ms. Skocpol, the above comments are from the lengthy telephone interview with Mr. Jacobs which contains the references to “Women To The Rescue” issues you are seeking.

  3. Women forming the backbone of a socially active group. Sounds a great deal like the church I attend.

  4. “For example, voting researchers, we’ve connected them with the League of Women Voters, and some of our members have gone and spoken at their conventions, and handed out our two-pagers that summarize in everyday language, without dumbing down, the results of sophisticated research projects. And we now have, I think it’s now 30-some chapters growing all over the country, and deliberately outside just the liberal areas: a powerful chapter in Oklahoma; one in Georgia; one in Utah, a really vibrant one in Utah; and with a little bit of help they can weave ties to even Republican legislators in many places, and they have done so.”


  5. I followed their Facebook page and noticed that the women in office and who ran for office in my district were already following the page.

    One female Democrat, who ran for a congressional seat against Greg Pence, had plenty of support, but the congressional district is gerrymandered beyond belief. He didn’t even show up to debates and won the seat easily.

    Before the Trumpification of Indiana, the Hoosier state was Kochified — it still is today even though Charles Koch has said he’s not backing Trump at the federal level. He can say whatever he likes, but he’s still getting everything he wants from Trump/Pence and Hoosier lawmakers.

    Running for a political office requires much of your time and energy…being screwed over by a gerrymandered district is NOT representative of a democratic republic. It’s how despots rule over the land, and in the case of 23-24 states in our union, those despots all originate from the Grand Ole Party.

    Watching Holcomb continuously fumble the marijuana football is hilarious. Since the Marion County prosecutor has set a limit on marijuana possession charges, a new bill was introduced to allow the Attorney General to come into any county and prosecute crimes.


    The states around us take two steps forward while Indiana takes one step backward.

  6. Friends and family in Indiana keep telling me that the Democratic Party operation in their state is terrible. I keep telling them that it is ripe for a take-over. Find a skillful orator to lead and wrest the party away from the hacks who have run it into the ground for the last thirty years. Maybe these women will do it for you.

  7. Yes, it is the women who preserve the hearth, and in today’s case, our governments are the hearth. In William Brinkley’s stirring doomsday thriller, “The Last Ship”, the women crew members and officers are responsible for saving the ship and the surviving humans after nuclear holocaust. How fitting.

    The Democratic women who won elections in 2018 have scared the living daylights out of the Republican white male establishment AND the Trump-Ite fringes. When those “guys” start using their right-wing, drooling media to attack “The Squad” on an almost daily basis, one knows they’re doing something right.

    I expect to see many MORE women running for offices across the country at all levels of government. Happily, most of them will be Democrats. So, whoever is the Democratic nominee, their coattails had better be long enough to sweep these women into office so they can clean up the messes left by Republicans who are testosterone-poisoned.

    Now, if we can just keep Tom Perez from screwing up THIS election, we real American patriots might find ourselves on the road to regaining our national vigor and our international credibility.

  8. I’ve found these – Curriculum Vitae:
    Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology
    Harvard University
    2) PROTECTING SOLDIERS AND MOTHERS: The Political Origins of Social Policy in the U.S.
    4) A CONVERSATION WITH THEDA SKOCPOL, see Bringing The State Back In And Protecting Soldiers And Mothers

  9. Here is what I find interesting from Shelia above:

    “In 2018, some ran for office, many ran for Precinct Committee Chair. We all ran for State Convention Delegate. We had a grand day out, demanding the Dem party establish a Women’s Caucus with voting rights on the SCC. We navigated the convoluted system with no help from the party, and got a resolution passed and included in the platform package approved by the entire delegation. Our posse was walking on air for a few weeks when we were informed by the State Chair that there would be no Women’s Caucus. The Chair took a lesson from legislative committee chairs who listen to compelling testimony on popular bills, then decide not to take a vote.”

    This sounds typical of the Democratic Party. It reminds me of a book I read a few years ago:
    Don’t Make No Waves…Don’t Back No Losers An Insiders’ Analysis of the Daley Machine
    by Milton L. Rakove, published in 1976.

    Rakove, outlines how the Daley machine would stifle reforms from the Left or Progressive Wing of the Party. Rakove was very astute, he noticed in 1976 the rise of what we would call today the Tea Party in the GOP.

    The Corporate Democrats today are fighting hard to prevent Medicare 4 All. The DNC is still corrupted by the Super Delegates system. The DCCC is attempting to hammer down any challenges to DINO’s by the Left.

    From an article:
    Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has exasperated her fellow House Democrats by announcing that she will not pay dues to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which works to elect Democrats to the House.

    Ocasio-Cortez said her gripe with the party’s official House campaign organization relates to the DCCC’s practice of not supporting newer progressive candidates in order to insulate incumbent Democrats.

    “One, I don’t agree with the policy around blacklisting groups that help progressive candidates,” she said. “I think we need to evolve as a party and make room for that.”

    “I want to help frontline members by putting that money straight into their pocket,” Ocasio-Cortez explained.

    The progressive 30-year-old has made good on that promise, pulling in more than $300,000 last year for candidates of her choosing, including $18,000 for Marie Newman, who seeks to oust longtime Illinois congressman Dan Lipinski, a rare pro-life Democrat.

  10. I’ve always preferred having a female superior. Intellectually, always, or almost always, my equal or above. Physically, not so much. Then again, that’s why my female superiors had me, take care of some of the rough stuff. And I was glad to do it because it was like a breath of fresh air. And never once was I challenged to an organ measuring contest, LOL, (it’s a guy thing).

    My wife has always been more compassionate than myself, and, she’s always been my better half in that regard. There are times when she points out my misdeeds, and although irritating, is usually right on the money. I prefer to circle in the shadows unless there is something that requires my particular skill sets, whatever they may be. Education wise, she surpassed me many years ago, and I supported her every step of the way. She puts a much better face on our relationship than I would, so I have no problem with being deferential.

    If it wasn’t for tender compassion and mercy, even at risking her own life, Pharaoh’s daughter would NOT have pulled Moses basket out of the reeds in the Nile. By disregarding pharaohs commands, she set in motion, a chain of events that would change history, that is if you believe in Old Testament writings. More than likely, a man would’ve put the baby to the sword!

    Smooth and easy, not many knee-jerk reactions, tenacity, intellect, compassion, empathy, respect, nurturing, and out of necessity, Authoritative! So, yeah, it’s time for women to run the show, from experience, men can learn a lot if they just put away their tape measures and swallow some pride!

    And one last thing, it is utterly sinful for women to have to take a backseat to men in earning potential, Politics, religion, and stature, “The Good OL’ boy” network needs to be crushed, “earning inequality” Or, Unequal in general, shouldn’t even be a thing, it’s time for men to step up and support equality across the board! This would be a much better country for it.

  11. Years ago….the comedienne, Totie Fields said, “…….turn back your watches 30 years….we’re arriving in Indianapolis ! …..” I’ve always liked that one….being from Speedway , IN . I left Indiana permanently in or around ’62….and have no good memories from Indiana. I enjoy reading Sheila’s blog….she has to be a really good writer and person. I also enjoy the inputs to her blog from her very articulate contributors. I agree females must take a greater role in our failing politics….they’re certain to be better at it. “A happy retired social security peasant living in the Oregon forests….”

  12. I am one of the 25 Women For 2020. I ran against a 30 year incumbent in IN#58 in 2018.
    While I did not win, my campaign received more Democrat votes in Johnson County in 25 years. And we are running again. Because my biggest job, is to leave this world better, brighter, and more safe than it was. We are fierce, determined, smart, women and will not be deterred.

  13. All right Cindy!

    Too bad, we have to be tethered to a two-party system, or a party system at all. I would imagine, you would get even more votes if you didn’t have a gigantic D next to your name. Those letters R or D seem to trigger an extreme amount of ignorance on one side or the other. Without the mindnumbing amount of propaganda and the endless supply of lobbyists, folks could focus on their own self interests , and those their fellow men and women, instead of rabidly voting against them.

    Will there ever be an awakening? Well, there hasn’t been one throughout human history to speak of, everything has been such a slow slog, and I passionately don’t believe it is supposed to be that way. So maybe, women can make a change where men are unwilling to. Change is fearful, at least to some, or, maybe most people! If, folks could just relax and picture how they would like their lives, and the lives of future generations to be, some would be in the trashcan, but most would be PARADISAIC, and who wouldn’t want that? Not a hard thing to get behind!

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