At Elliott Lectures White House veteran discusses women's role in midterm elections

By Hunter Moss on 10/8/2010

   
   

 

The 2010 elections are bringing a resurgence of women in roles of political prominence, White House veteran and policy expert Elaine Kamarck told a group of students, faculty and community leaders on campus Thursday, Oct. 7.
 
Kamarck spoke at Lipscomb University’s Pizza and Politics series, presented for the first time by the Don R. Elliott Distinguished Presidential Lecture, on Thursday, Oct. 7.
 
Kamarck participated in a Q & A session with long-time friend Linda Peek Schacht, also a former White House staffer and Lipscomb associate professor in communication and political science, at a luncheon discussing the “Year of the Woman: Election 2010.” On Thursday evening, Kamarck gave a public lecture on “Election 2010: It’s the Economy, Stupid – Again.” 
 
The Elliott Lecture is an endowed series made possible by The Elliott Foundation in memory of educator and fundraising consultant Don R. Elliott. The lecture is designed to expose the Lipscomb community and the public to influential thought leaders on contemporary issues with emphasis on economics or politics.
 
Kamarck (middle) discusses the midterm elections with professors MarcSchwerdt (right) and Linda Schacht (left).
Kamarck (left) with Schacht (right)
Kamarck (left) with Provost
Craig Bledsoe (right)
In the 1980s, Kamarck was one of the founders of the New Democrat movement that helped elect Bill Clinton president. She served in the White House from 1993 to 1997, where she created and managed the Clinton administration's National Performance Review, also known as "reinventing government."
 
During the luncheon, Kamarck noted the overall presence of women in the political spectrum. Former vice presidential candidate and Alaska governor Sarah Palin is producing “clones” and creating a unique political playground, she said. Most importantly, women are using explicit style appeals in government, a complete turnaround from several decades ago, she noted.
 
“There’s a strong need for women in the political pipeline. Change needs to happen for any progress. Believe it or not, politics is not compatible with raising families and cooking dinner. Traditionally, high-ranking female government officials tend to be childless,” says Kamarck. “The women of tomorrow must find compatibility between politics and motherhood.”
 
Kamarck expects the current female landscape in Washington, D.C., to change. As evidence, she referenced a Washington Post article stating that women with six-figure incomes have increased 14% in two years. She expects these women, who generally have graduate degree educations, to have a stronger tendency to fight for government programs.
 
The need for an aggressive female voice in government persists; the challenge is in persuading them to get involved, Kamarck said.
 
At the Pizza & Politics public lecture, Kamarck discussed the political ramifications of the economic crisis and Pres. Barack Obama’s response to it: “President Obama’s job approval in October 2010 will have a significant bearing on this year’s midterm elections,” she said.
 
Kamarck is the author of “Primary Politics: How Presidential Candidates Have Shaped the Modern Nominating System” and “The End of Government as We Know It: Policy Implementation in the 21st Century.”

At the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University she has served as director of the Visions of Governance for the 21st Century program and as faculty adviser to the Innovations in American Government Awards program. In 2000, she took a leave of absence to work as senior policy adviser to the Gore campaign.
 
Currently he serves as a lecturer in public policy who conducts research on 21st century government, the role of the Internet in political campaigns, homeland defense, intelligence reorganization, and governmental reform and innovation.