By Mia Garza McCord, President. Oct. 11, 2019
In celebration of International Day of the Girl, here is TCCRI President Mia McCord's most recent article as it appeared in her hometown newspaper, The Enterprise, on Wednesday, October 9, 2019.
“I am going to my board meeting now,” loudly proclaims my three-year-old daughter as she carries her Minnie Mouse purse and a stack of Minnie Mouse playing cards to the guest bedroom. I remember playing dress up or house or Barbies at her age, but never did I pretend to run a board meeting. I will readily admit a sense of pride when I hear my daughter conducting a board meeting with her stuffed animals. She is grandiose, incredibly verbose, and more confident than I have ever been. She can accomplish anything she sets her mind to.
My daughter is the product of generations of progress. She will grow up in a world where women are running fortune 500 companies, serving as elected officials, and opening successful businesses. We now live in a world where having a successful career is not sacrificed in order to be a wife and a mom.
With that in mind, I pose the following question: if women today are accomplishing more than ever before-- running households and board meetings all while serving on their children’s school PTA, maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regime, and volunteering in the community-- why are our political parties still talking to women through the narrow lens of “women’s issues”? While healthcare is a topic of interest, it is not what is driving this woman to the polls or to the Capitol to testify. As a suburban Hispanic woman in a two-income household (a demographic both parties are focusing outreach efforts on), here are a few of the issues that will drive me to the polls this November.
Education—more importantly, my children’s education. Both my husband and I are products of Texas’ public education system. We both excelled and are successful adults in part because of our childhood education. In Texas, children are filtered through zip codes to a corresponding school. What if that school doesn’t work for your child? What if your child has special needs that cannot be met by that school? As a mom, that due to a variety of reasons, has made the choice to pay for private school, you better believe I care about education and my choices when it comes to my children’s education. But I also want to know that Texas school children are the priority when our schools are budgeting and allocating resources whether my children are part of the public education system or not. Why? Because, I still pay taxes.
Taxes—As a mom, I make daily decisions regarding our family’s money. We have to budget. Sure, I would love new shoes every month, a weekly mani/pedi, and an endless restaurant budget so mommy doesn’t have to cook every night, but the reality is, these items are not part of our family’s needs. They are extras after we prioritize school tuition, school lunches, groceries, gasoline, house payment, car payments, insurance costs, and state and federal taxes owed. If I have to budget to make ends meet, our government should have to budget rather than looking to the taxpayer as a bottomless pocket of cash. Before you come to us, the taxpayer, and ask for more money, women want to hear about how our elected officials are spending current budgets and justify why we should give them more of our hard-earned money.
Healthcare—yes, women care about healthcare and about the affordability of insurance. We want to know that we have access to a doctor or hospital when our family is hurt or sick. We want to know that if we get cancer, there are world class treatments being developed here in the United States that can save our lives. Women my age are worried about what needs to be done in order to care for our parents as they age. What will our healthcare system look like in 15 or 20 years? How should we prepare? Will I be able to continue to make healthcare decisions for my family or will our government be part of that decision?
Women make up 58.4 percent of the total U.S. labor force.[I] In 2017, 41 percent of mothers were either the sole breadwinners or primary breadwinners for their households. 63.7 percent of married mothers are part of the workforce, while 73.2 percent of single mothers are employed.[ii] As of 2018, 54.3 percent of students enrolled in an undergraduate program in Texas were women, and another 56.7 percent of students enrolled in graduate or professional degrees were women.[iii] This statistic correlates closely with the national averages of women enrolled in higher education. Finally, 68.5 percent of women in the United States are registered to vote with 55 percent showing up to the polls during the 2018 mid-term elections.[iv]
It is time for politicians and political parties to speak to women about all the issues and not make assumptions about our political leanings. It is said that “little girls with dreams become women with vision.” For my daughter, her current board room may be whimsy, but one day, it will be real, as will her voice at the ballot box.
Mia Garza McCord is the President of the Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute, a non-partisan public policy organization based in Austin, Texas. She has spent almost fifteen years working in Texas politics and policy