Delegate’s Diary Notes of an Anti-Nuke Feminist By Ann Marie Cunningham San. Francisco; New York Sunday On the plane with other members of the New York delegation, I wonder whether San Francisco is the right direction for a conscientious activist to be heading. I turn to The Nation for guidance and learn that the American left has “two equally unacceptable alternatives: isolation in purist parties \(activists and intellectuals doomed to life immersion in the belly of the Democratic beast.” Having tried one road, am I about to break down in the other’s potholes? I am going to the Democratic National Convention as a Hart delegate because I believe, as do the pollsters, that he has a better chance of achieving the allimportant goal beating Reagan. But on the plane I see both the strengths and weaknesses of the Hart campaign. The New York Hart delegation is extremely proud of the fact that 95 % of its members are convention first-timers. Most of us are young, energetic, and enthusiastic and we’re largely powerless unknowns. Our machine simply isn’t as big or as well-oiled as Mondale’ s . The New York delegation resolved a month ago to press for a woman vice presidential candidate, so we are doubly buoyed by the fact that we have one and that she’s a favorite daughter. But I have mixed feelings: how will she play in Peoria? Tallahassee? Biloxi? Will she pull women whose finances did not allow them to stay home while their kids grew up? It would be wonderful to see a liberal woman do well for a change seems like only conservatives can make it big but will she only attract people who would have voted for Ann Marie Cunningham, a freelance reporter in New York City, covered the 1972 conventions. She is the author of Future Fire: Weapons for the ApocaMondale anyway? On the airport bus into San Francisco, I get a partial answer from an Indiana delegate, the mayor of Fort Wayne. He reports that in Indiana Ferraro’s nomination has “upped our volunteers’ numbers and morale.” Monday New York Governor Mario Cuomo, who is delivering the convention’s keynote speech, comes to our first state delegation caucus and tells yet another story about his mother. “I’m sorry; I’m tired of them, too,” he says, “but she makes me do it.” He describes explaining his convention chore to her: “Ma, I have to give the keynote, tell the Democrats what they believe in.” “Don’t they know already?” asked Mrs. Cuomo, unimpressed. “Ma, forty-five million people are going to hear this speech.” “Mario! Quarantacinque millione? You better not mess up.” In the end, of course, he doesn’t. The best part of the keynote is hearing a male speaker chant “ERA,” to a hall of delegates, half of whom are female. How far we’ve come! The 1984 platform positions on women’s rights seem impeccable: they support passage of the ERA, comparable worth, federally funded child care; they are against discrimination, pro-choice, against the feminization of poverty, for women in leadership positions. The platform and Ferraro’s nomination are testimony to the women’s movement’s growth in numbers, stature, and lobbying sophistication, rather than to the feminist instincts of the Democratic party. In 1972, it was Republican women, not Democratic, who hammered a child care plank into their party platform, over Nixon’s objectives. And to date, Republican financial support of women candidates has been much more generous. As if to show a change of heart, Monday brings a “Celebration of American Women” at the San Francisco Opera House. Lunch costs $50 to benefit Democratic women candidates. As the opera house’s bro cade curtain rises, we women in the press gallery gasp and feel collective goosebumps: there, from Abzug to Steinem, are all the women’s rights leaders we have covered for the last twenty years. When, however, I’m introduced as a Hart supporter to Betty Friedan, a fellow New York delegate for Mondale, she turns her back on me. Sisterhood still has some miles to go. After Cuomo’s keynote, the convention adjourns. Mother Jones magazine throws a party and gives prizes to progressive local and state officials, including: Texas Agriculture Commissioner \(and chair of the Democratic National Committee’s Agriculture ComYork City Councilwoman, Ruth Messinger, who is opposing the deployment of Cruise missiles in New York harbor; New Mexico Governor Toney Anaya; a Montana state senator who has championed the environment; and a South Dakota tax commissioner who has hauled dallying corporations into court. One Mother Jones award winner, Conminds us that the key to success as a progressive is keeping your eye-on the purpose, not on the goal. The other winners all say, “Thanks for saying thanks it happens so rarely.” Even if you are purposeful rather than goaloriented, apparently the constituents are never grateful. Tuesday Today delegates vote on the minority platform planks. At the freeze caucus on Sunday, representatives of the Mondale, Hart, and Jackson campaigns had presented their cases on these planks. Of particular interest to freeze supporters are two of the Jackson planks and the single Hart plank. One Jackson plank requires a policy of no first use of nuclear weapons, while the platform’s current language endorsed by Mondale and Ferraro, the platform committee chair says a Democratic president would “move toward” such a policy. The second Jackson plank says that “we spend far more than what is required 6 AUGUST 3, 1984
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