It only seems appropriate on International Women’s Day to look into the problem of women voting in the United States. Fifty-three percent of the electorate in the 2012 presidential election were women1, showing that women are flexing their ability to vote more than ever.
However, a 2012 poll indicates that only forty-four percent of women had faith in the democratic process in the United States, compared to fifty-two percent of men (both numbers are relatively low, comparable with South Korea, Spain, and Germany—Scandinavian countries, of all “legitimate democracies”, tend to have the highest faith among voters)2 This notable seven percent difference indicates a problem that is significantly worse among women, with regards to their faith in government (the problem of roughly half of US voters not having faith in their government can be its own blog topic. Or book. Or multi-volume tome).
The Center for American Progress noted that women and men both voted in terms of the economy, but women placed more emphasis on a government that “cared”–seemingly a Democratic trend. However, the gender gap in satisfaction with the government remained, despite four years under Obama.
I’m venturing into pure speculation at this point, but perhaps women will never be truly satisifed with the government, if they continue to put an emphasis on the government being “helpful” and “caring” (if they cared about how many drone strikes were happening, they would be significantly happier with Obama in the White House, compared to Bush).The federal government is actually relatively constant between administration to administration—no matter who is in power, the EPA will still be there, albeit downsized or enlarged depending on the policy choices of the president. Medicare will still be there, subject somewhat to the whims of the president and Congress.
That being said, the federal government will remain constant in its inefficiency—a woman, being more concerned with a “helpful government”, will be more acutely aware of how the government is currently not helpful due to bureaucratic nightmares. The Pentagon spends one hundred million dollars a year to identify sixty people (in 2013) of the unidentified war dead.3 Additionally, policymakers are not exactly showing how understanding they can be. They frequently speak out about how they detest abortion and want to eliminate all federal funding for abortion. Politicians also call out people on welfare as “lazy” and suggest taking away federal aid, a problem that would affect women more because as a society, women are still faced with the pressure of raising and providing for a family. This dialogues occur regardless of who is in power, on both sides of the aisle (undoubtedly, one side favors this discussion more, but there will always be people on both sides of the aisle who will be at least condescending)
Women, being more concerned about a caring government, see the overwhelming bureaucracy, and how the federal government refuses to budge, even in the face of real suffering. They also see representatives who are far removed from their concerns—indeed, are actively campaigning against women’s needs. Their votes, in some ways, might just feel wasted on a government that trudges on, irrespective of women voters’ wishes.