Sonia Johnson

 Sonia Johnson is an avid feminist writer and scholar and was a huge supporter of the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment). My scrapbook had pamphlets such as this one, and correspondence from Sonia and Jo about Sonia’s presidential campaign in 1984, a landmark year for women in politics. She, like the pamphlet shows she ran on the Citizen Party. The Citizen Party which was formed in the late 1970s as a response to President Carter’s administration was pro-environmental in nature. The party was formed around four essential platforms including economic democracy or the idea that the business of business is to do business, but that the business of government is to regulate business to prevent abuses.

Sonia was the first women to run for president in this short-lived party, it dissolved in 1986, and she came in 5th in the election, receiving 71,947 of 92,641,042 votes or about 0.08%. She was nominated at the party convention and ran alongside Richard Walton of Rhode Island as her vice presidential candidate.

Before running for president, Johnson had started a family with her husband, four children in all, and had taught English in the United States and abroad. Johnson began speaking out in support of the ERA in 1977 and co-founded, with three other women, an organization called Mormons for ERA. She gained national attention in 1978 for her  testimony in front of the United States Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Property Rights. After being ex-communicated from the Mormon Church in 1979, for an assortment of misdeeds, according to the church, her husband divorced her and she continued to promote the ERA.

Based on my project which focuses on the rhetoric used for females in politics, she was promoted like every other candidate, however, she was too radical, even being labeled a “radical feminist” by her own party, to be nominated by a major party. The Citizen’s Party was seen as pretty socialist, which probably helped her cause of getting a nomination. Although the number of votes she received was less than her male counterpart received four years earlier, it’s important to note Sonia Johnson’s contributions to women running for political office, particularly presidential office.

Sunday, October 2, 2016