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If They Only Listened to Us: What Women Voters Want Politicians to Hear Hardcover – May 1, 2007

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (May 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743278968
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743278966
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,406,481 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Puzzled by why traditionally Democrat women switched camps and voted for George Bush in the 2004 election, Henneberger, a contributing editor at Newsweek, set out to identify divisive issues among women. Traveling around the country, she talked with a random sample of 234 ordinary women in 20 states—both blue and red. The result is a compelling and surprising look at what most sways women's votes. In 2006, 51% of voters were female; yet, with the exception of professionals trying to juggle motherhood and careers, average women are not asked their opinions on what they consider to be pivotal issues—abortion, religion and gay marriage, among others. While many profess to be Democrats at heart, numerous women switched sides during the presidential election because of just a single issue, even when they agreed with the Democrats on everything else. Even extremely anti-Bush Katrina victims say they won't hold Bush's ineffectiveness against his party, and they will vote for the candidate who supports their belief on the most critical matters. With political campaigning beginning earlier than ever and elections won by the narrowest of margins, politicians on both sides would do well to heed Henneberger's message that for the average woman, all issues are not created equal; candidates would do well to listen to the voices she recounts. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Journalist Henneberger traveled the nation to ask women what mattered to them and examined those heartfelt concerns against the political issues more often trotted out by candidates. What she found was that women's opinions did not match the neatly labeled conventional wisdoms of the gender gap or soccer moms. Henneberger visited childhood girlfriends, with her twin daughters in tow, in her hometown of Mount Carmel, Illinois; she talked to women who had survived Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans; black women in Milwaukee; Catholic women in Denver. She heard a broad range of opinions from a cross section of American women, but what she mostly heard was how glad these women were to have someone listen to them talk about the important concerns of the day, including the war, economics, sex, and religion. Putting journalism aside, Henneberger offers a close-up look at the opinions of 234 women in 12 states, keeping the statistics and political analysis for the footnotes. An absorbing collection. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

If "they" only listened to us, it would be great.
Not willing to dismiss this book because of a lack of depth, I turned to the final chapter for a clear, concise summary of Henneberger's findings.
It should be required reading for anyone running for political office.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ace VINE VOICE on June 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is not something you can breeze through. It is an absorbing (albeit, in a few places, due to sentence structure, a perplexing) "read".

I applaud Ms. Henneberger for her relentless pursuit of answers from one end of the nation to the other.

The feminists back in the early 1900's tried to convince others that giving women the vote would make this world a kinder, gentler place. Maybe it has. But judging from what I read in this book, some of the answers these 21st Century women gave to Ms Henneberger gave me the impression of a jigsaw puzzle with pieces that DID NOT fit. It appeared to me that those who professed themselves to be Democrats and Republicans were fragmented, and in some cases, vaccillating from one cause to another. Did I see much compassion or a genuine desire to help others reach out to others or help unify without disrespecting others' opinions? I don't think so.

Will any solidarity ever come from these opinions? Will anything ever get accomplished with these seemingly fragmented attitudes? I think one sentence (p 205) sums up much of what is expressed throughout this book - "...most of us know just about exactly as much as we want to know, and then act accordingly."

The impression I got was that many of the more affluent women were more interested in material things - money, jobs, status -- than in genuinely caring for what happens to others less fortunate, or to the environment. The woman who said (paraphrased in my words) that if the environment was supposed to suffer, maybe that was the way it had to be ..... was NOT someone I'd ever want to see running for ANY office - had she ever gone camping and had her way totally blocked by thousands of shards of glass from broken bottles next to her favorite mountain stream??
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By PunditMom on November 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Melinda Henneberger, a contributing writer at The Huffington Post, traveled around the country interviewing a variety of women to get their input on what's important to them politically.

For political junkie like me, it's a great and inspiring read. I often get frustrated, wondering where all the women voters are and why so many of us stay home at election time. Do we care what's going on in the political world? Or are we simply frustrated that the system just doesn't work for us?

The question I'd really like to have answered on this topic is, "Why?"

If "they" only listened to us, it would be great. But isn't the bigger question, "Why don't they listen to us?"

Those volunteers slaving to make things better in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Women activists who have turned away from their political parties because they feel that no one is listening. Wives and mothers who are tuned into politics, but are increasingly put off by the failure of the system to benefit those who need it the most.

I think the answer is simple -- we're not the ones opening our wallets to the candidates.

If abortion rights or providing relief for those hit by natural disasters were high on the priority list for Halliburton or the big pharmaceutical companies, you can bet there would be a lot more action on Capitol Hill than there is now on those issues.

So, should we open up our wallets for candidates or issues we believe in, regardless of whether we live in a red state or a blue state? Chip in a few dollars for those who share our vision, regardless of what party we're registered with?

I made a small donation to a Senate candidate this week who isn't even from my state because he shares a world view that makes my political heart skip a beat. It certainly wasn't enough to cause a blip on the fundraising radar, but I figure it's a start.
add to sk*rt
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By C. Rudder on July 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In endorsing John Kerry over George W. Bush for President in 2004, The Economist slyly suggested the choice was between the incoherent and the incompetent. Elections in general tend to be a matter of "choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable," John Kenneth Galbraith wrote President Kennedy in 1962.

To judge from Melinda Henneberger's book, If They Only Listened to Us: What Women Voters Want Politicians to Hear, this lesson is lost on many Americans who feel that their meager electoral fare is served up by unheeding politicians. Women, in particular, think their preferences are ignored by Democrats in particular, says Henneberger, a columnist for the Catholic opinion journal Commonweal and a regular contributor to the online magazine Slate. It is arresting to hear that politicians in the U.S. pay too little attention to public opinion, not to mention that the Democrats' problem is that the party does not attract enough women.

Based on the amount of space she gives to abortion politics, Henneberger especially wants the Democratic Party to be more responsive to women who oppose abortion. Twice she quotes interviewee Kelly Dore saying, "I'm with the Democrats on ninety percent of the issues. But if you're pro-life, they don't even want you." (pp. 10 and 137)

Moderate your position on abortion and maybe gay rights, Henneberger implies, and you Democrats will have regained a reliable majority of the American voting public. She ignores that such a policy shift might seem calamitous to many other women, not to mention men, who currently vote for Democrats. Henneberger cites the success of Pennsylvania's Senator Bob Casey, Jr., an anti-abortion Democrat as proof that Casey's position on abortion points the way to dominance over the Republicans.
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