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Political Renewal

by Debbie Walsh

If any institution needs renewal, it’s the American political system. Plagued with mistrust, hostility and gridlock, today’s politics are ill-suited to the urgent responsibility of addressing tough domestic and global problems. New ideas, fresh faces and a renewed commitment to cooperation are essential.

This work won’t be accomplished by the usual suspects, the people who have gotten us to our current impasse. More than ever, we need women like you to step up, bringing your talents and predisposition for collaboration to the halls of government.

Today women hold just under 17% of congressional seats, less than a quarter of state legislative seats and only six governorships in the 50 states. When congressional leaders chose the 12-member “Supercommittee” to address the budget crisis, just one woman was tapped. As the Washington DC saying goes, “If you’re not at the table, you’re probably on the menu.” And at the tables where critical, life-altering decisions are made, women’s voices are too often missing.

Women with private-sector experience can be key players in changing the picture. Whether your expertise is finance, energy, health care, technology, manufacturing or something else entirely, your leadership skills and real-world knowledge would be invaluable as priorities are set and resources are allocated.

You’ve never thought of running for office? You’re not alone. Research shows that women often wait to be asked, imagining themselves unready or inadequate to run and serve.

That’s why The 2012 Project, a campaign of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, invites you to consider running, especially in a critical election year when post-census redistricting creates once-in-a-decade opportunities for newcomers to move in. Working in partnership with organizations across the country and across the political spectrum, we’ll point you toward advice, inspiration and road maps to resources that can equip you to run. Just think – you could simultaneously help to reshape our policymaking and recharge your own career!

Want to know more? Visit the 2012 website at and click “Take Action” — or email [email protected].

Debbie Walsh is the director of the Center for American Women and Politics, Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University. She’ll speak on a panel titled How to Impact Change: Real-World Advice for How You Can Influence and Make a Difference at the 2011 Pennsylvania Conference for Women.