I confess I’d never heard of Olympia Snowe until she resigned, and know nothing of her track record, her platform or her life. However, I can completely understand her desire to take the opportunity to throw in the towel – or at least to lay it down – in politics. It is her feeling of exasperation and exhaustion that, to me, is a key reason why reasonable, intelligent people end up staying out of politics in the first place – the frustration and futility of partisan politics.
Most political arenas today seem best suited to the shrill and single-minded – party-liners with little to add to the discourse beyond heckling and the drone-like repetition of their side’s position or punchline, which almost always consists of the automatic gainsaying of the opposition’s position. Reasonableness be damned – whatever it is the other side is proposing is morally reprehensible, a threat to national unity, completely disrespectful of working people/families/seniors/pets/environment/whatever the target audience is, and a clear demonstration of their allegiance to big business/oil companies/unions/special interests/whatever it is that my party is against today.
So if Olympia Snowe is choosing to step out of the ring because she’s frustrated by the useless fighting, that is her choice. I think it is brave of her to say that – rather than the “I want to spend more time with my family” shtick that usually accompanies a departure like this (followed by media speculation that she’s a) dying or b) dodging some scandal).
I also don’t see the tragedy for women in this. It is not a requirement for someone to be a woman to represent the needs of women. The requirement for any democratically elected representative is to represent the needs and interests of the constituents – regardless of sex, religion, age, sexual orientation, race, whatever. To say that only a woman can represent the needs of women is sexism run amok.