Today I am very happy to welcome my friend Amanda Pasdon as our guest blogger. Some of you have probably seen the (gigantic) billboards of Amanda around Morgantown (she is running for the West Virginia House of Delegates), but I didn’t ask her to post today because of her political leanings. Instead, I wanted to know why a 29-year-old woman with a great job and handsome husband would thrust herself into the spotlight of politics. Here, Amanda tells us why! — Hollee
With the 2010 mid-term elections just days away, I feel like I’m having a bit of an “out of body experience.” I see and I hear and I feel, but I know I have little control over the outcome. As I float through the final days, I find myself reflecting on my decision to run for office, and I can’t help but wonder about the future.
Amanda and her husband
I appreciate every new friend, am grateful for the overwhelming support, and hope to have proven that one woman (surrounded by a great group of people) can make a difference.
I am passionate about politics and policymaking and how each affects our future. But while contemplating running for the West Virginia House of Delegates, I was wary. I challenged my ideologies. I questioned myself, my beliefs and my foundation simply because I was wary. Could I stand up to the criticism that being a young female candidate brings?
Amanda on the campaign trail…
In searching for the answer, I made a few calls to my closest friends. The questions from these talented, strong women were the same questions I was asking myself: “Are you crazy?” “Do you realize what this will open you up to?” “Why would you want to put yourself through something like that?”
What I found during my soul searching, before solidifying my candidacy, was this: My political ideologies are not defined by a label on my voter registration card. For me, it is not about a political party; it is about my life and my choices. I have longed wished that our political leaders would asses their political ideologies and be true to their beliefs instead of promoting party politics and reinforcing partisan division.
As we have seen from recent events, female political ambitions are especially vulnerable to mockery and criticism. In our current political climate of scandals, heightened partisan discourse, and a struggling economy, politics is certainly a risk for any candidate. While women in political roles are more common today, being a woman with political ambitions and interests is still frowned upon. Sadly, many young women cannot imagine themselves as elected officials.
Too many people still believe a woman belongs in her home, taking care of her family — not out making a career for herself. Just a few weeks ago, I had an older gentleman tell me that he thought Sarah Palin was a horrible person – not because of her politics or beliefs mind you – but because she was not at home taking care of her family where she belonged. He actually said, “Who does she think she is? She needs to be at home, not out politicking. If I was her husband, I would put her in her place.”
My inner self was yelling, “Bite your tongue, Amanda!” And I did until it bled. But I was amazed! Some Americans actually believe that women are not capable of holding government positions or that they shouldn’t have such ambitions. They would rather toss their votes to the male candidates, even if their skill level and experience do not match that of their female opponents.
Like me, many of you were probably born believing that there were no limits to our success, and yet we are surprised when we hit the glass ceilings that our mothers warned us about. Voters and pundits will scrutinize our appearance and bodies, our personal lives, and our emotions to disqualify us.
As women, we continue to doubt our qualifications, but our male equals continue to overestimate their resumes. Young women already struggle to balance career and family. Faced with these barriers to our success as young female candidates, we have reason to be wary of entering a career as risky as politics.
Despite the unique struggles that young women politicians face, the best solution to improving government is not simply changing the party in power, but rather changing the demographics of power by electing more concerned women to political office.
Amanda Pasdon is the Director of Business Development for the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce and a candidate for the West Virginia House of Delegates. A yoga and outdoor enthusiast, she is also a newlywed.