Mr. Romney, how about 'Binders full of Americans?' - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Mr. Romney, how about ‘Binders full of Americans?’

Since I don’t watch political debates, what I get out of them is the verbal flotsam and jetsam that make the next day news.

My new favorite phrase, courtesy of Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, is “binders full of women.”

The phrase blew up social media when he said it when questioned about his position on pay equity—you know the same money for the same work, regardless of gender.  Facebook now has a half dozen variants on the theme: “Binders full of Women”  “Binders full of Women –lots of ‘em,” “Women in Binders” and even a “Women in Binders for Obama.”

The binders in question were the work of a group of Massachusetts professional women, MassGap, who put together the list in 2002, not at Romney’s request as implied, but because they wanted to get more women in the governor’s cabinet regardless of who won the election.

Binders? Are you serious?

We’ve been coasting as a nation.  And when you coast, forward momentum is lost.This election isn’t just about finding qualified women to fill responsible positions.  There’s no shortage of those if we have politicians committed to utilizing the full strength of America’s citizenry.  Certainly, the election is  about pay equity, equal opportunity, education, health care, a women’s right to determine what goes on with her own body,  but, most importantly, it’s about how we– all of us– build a future for a country that  has stumbled into this brave new global world with little preparation.  That means educating our people, all of them– men, women, minorities, new immigrants, etc.—for that challenge. You only have to look at our public schools, our roads, bridges, the electrical grid, our infrastructure to realize that the country has been neglected… and the neglect didn’t start yesterday, four years ago, or even with the turn of the millennium.

It took a “Sputnik” moment in the 1950s to kick start the nation into realizing that it wasn’t competitive with the Soviet Union in the sciences.  The launch of the Soviet satellite “Sputnik” in 1957 brought this reality home.  Lyndon Johnson, then Senate Majority Leader, created such a controversy over the USSR’s launch that it led to the creation of National Aeronautics and Space Administration.  We were in a space race with the Soviets—a race that led to amazing accomplishments of the next ten years, including the first human landings on the Moon.  Suddenly the nation got serious and got busy.   Congress passed the National Defense Education Act which got more students enrolled in college and promoted science and mathematics careers. There were national advertisements about the benefits of becoming an engineer, learning a foreign language or becoming an expert in international relations.   The country was on fire.  The energy not only provided the nation with defense personal but also hundreds of thousands engineers, mathematicians and scientists— that eventually made U.S. technology the envy of the world.

We’re at a similar point today, in competition not just with one nation, but many.  We can’t have single categories of binders: women, Latinos, African Americans, men, people who are disabled, Asian-Americans, etc.  We can’t afford categories.

We need binders full of Americans.

(Please take our presidential poll on the right side of the homepage.  You might be surprised who is winning.)

 


About the author

Karen DeWitt

Karen DeWitt has a long distinguished career as a journalist, covering politics, but also has worked on political campaigns. She compares the later to the labor of a Hebrew working for the Pharaoh. She's covered the White House and the national politics for The New York Times; foreign affairs and the White House for USA TODAY before joining that newspaper’s management as an assistant managing editor. She switched to television as a senior producer for ABC’s Nightline, where she wrote and produced the award-winning, Found Voices about the digitization of 1930s and 1940s interviews with former slaves. She returned to newspapers, as Washington editor for the Examiner newspaper and eventually left to help on local political campaigns. She has several blogs, but contributes mostly to a food blog called “I don’t speak cuisine” at peacecorpsworldwide.org and theroot.com. Contact the author.
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