Now, for the first time, we have many talented Democratic women running for President of the United States. Regardless of whether a woman wins or not in 2020, their presence adds a positive dimension to the dialogue. When women lead the way on many issues of obvious interest to women, more men understand and are supportive. More women running at all levels of government also gives a different perspective as we try to address the many challenges we face as a country.
Looking ahead, this country’s best hope is with women winning more and more elections at every level. I say that because women are much more likely to scrap this viciously partisan gamesmanship that exists at almost all levels of elections, and they will work to get positive things done for the good of the people. Congresswoman Sharice Davids in our Kansas 3rd Congressional District is an excellent example. She is very bright, very passionate about changes that need to be made like in health care and not hesitant to work across the aisle to get things done.
I see similar progress in the Kansas Legislature, particularly compared to when I was in office. In recent years, bipartisan groups of women have been key to getting our state back on the road to recovery after the devastating Brownback years, and Governor Laura Kelly will now take the lead in keeping us on the right path. Now, compare that to when I was first elected to the Legislature in 1970. In my first term the Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution was passed and sent to the states for potential ratification. To show you how times have changed, support for the Amendment was strong generally across the board and it was passed overwhelmingly by a male and Republican-dominated legislature. There were only two women in the House and, interestingly enough, both voted against it based primarily on their concern that we would all be using the same bathroom.
Then, following my re-election in 1976 and becoming Speaker for the '77-78 term, I was in the position of appointing all the committee chairs. By then, we had added several women to the Democratic Caucus and it was my pleasure to appoint the first ever women chairs of committees in the Kansas Legislature. They were Ruth Wilkin from Topeka and Ruth Lazzati from Wichita.
For the record, there are very good men in public office as well. It is just that there are too many men who are there to hold the seat, enjoy whatever perks exist, and follow whatever the special interests who got them elected want them to do. Good women are making a real difference at both the state and national level. It just might be realistic now to hope that with this progress continuing, we will soon reach a tipping point and sanity in politics will once again become common at both the national and state levels.