After Kavanaugh, Women’s Groups Focus on Midterms

Advocates for sexual assault survivors and women’s rights have been energized by the fight against Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Now that the fight is over they are focusing their energy on the November midterm elections.

“Mobilized against Kavanaugh, women’s groups turn energy toward to midterms”

Survivor groups have received much national attention over recent weeks by protesting Kavanaugh’s nomination in Washington, D.C., and around the nation.

They have started an online movement but also have personally confronted senators which resulted in mass arrests at the U.S. Capitol Building.

Even though the Senate has officially confirmed Kavanaugh, the women’s groups hope they now will be able to harness their energy and use it to create real political power. They hope their increased influence will allow them to elect congressional candidates who support their cause. After that, the next step is for them to lobby for  legislation in Congress.

“There’s no question that the energy from this moment will relate to the energy that we will all see in November,” said Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center.

Graves said the objectives of the movement were more than just electing Democrats to office.

“Anyone who covers for abuse, anyone who is not interested in changing the institutions that cover for abuse, will find themselves vulnerable,” she said.

After Dr. Christine Ford went public with her allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a high school party in 1982, large numbers of sexual assault survivors immediately mobilized to oppose his nomination to the high court. Kavanaugh of course completely denied all allegations from Ford as well as from two other women.

On Thursday, over 300 protesters were arrested for marching and protesting at the Hart Senate Office Building. Many of the individuals arrested wore shirts that read “I am a survivor” and “believe women.”

Progressive and women’s rights groups involved include CPD, Women’s March, the National Women’s Law Center, anti-sexism group Ultraviolet and the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA). They all were involved in mobilizing their supporters to oppose Kavanaugh.

The leaders of the groups said they are part of a powerful national movement and are looking beyond the confirmation fight.

“I think all roads lead to November,” Women’s March co-chair Tamika Mallory said on Thursday. “‘November is coming’ has been one of our campaign slogans since we’ve been engaged in the ‘Cancel Kavanaugh’ campaign.”

Many of the groups are supporting the initiative to register voters, called the Women’s March Power To The Polls. Women’s March co-chairs Mallory and Linda Sarsour said that the Kavanaugh fight greatly helped their efforts to register voters.

“People are fired up,” Sarsour said. “That’s gonna be a problem. This could be another opportunity for us to fuel our effort.”

Sarsour also made clear their belief that the Kavanaugh confirmation fight helped their efforts greatly. She said “the Kavanaugh battle created an opportunity for us to leverage women to be even more involved and participate at a deeper level in this activism work.”

The NDWA represents domestic workers, most of whom are women of color, and is focused on improving workplace conditions and preventing sexual harassment.

Marzena Zukowska, NDWA’s communications director, told The Hill that they are very focused on registering voters ahead of the midterms.

She said her group has targeted a few races, including Democrat Stacey Abrams’s campaign for governor against GOP opponent Brian Kemp in Georgia. Abrams would be the nation’s first black female governor. 

After the election, Zukowska said her group will lobby lawmakers to pass legislation at the federal, state and local level that respects the rights”of domestic workers. Many such workers have been and continue to be personally affected by sexual violence. Historically they have not had a voice and have not had any political power.

Zukowska said the group will throw its weight behind legislation such as the EMPOWER Act, a bipartisan House bill that would target sexual harassment in the workplace.

Sarsour said her group now has a huge digital infrastructure that it will use to get hundreds of thousands of women to support Democrats in dozens of U.S. House of Representatives races. They believe this will help Democrats win control of the House in November.

Planned Parenthood Action Fund has also started running digital ads in key races that they hope to swing to the Democrats’ column.

Clearly energized women are now playing a very important role in this year’s midterm elections. Since Donald Trump’s 2016 victory his statements about women have fueled the Resistance and the #MeToo movement.

Thanks to Trump, a record number of women are running for Congress this year, most of them Democrats. And thanks to the misogynist in the White House this may be a Blue Wave election year. If it is, it will be because of one group of voters: energized women.