Saturday, August 25, 2012

Women, Choice and Power

Turns out, women are a key voting bloc in the upcoming election. It's up to us not only to get each other engaged, and voting. but to demand credible commitments that address our concerns.

Here are our choices heading into the political conventions:

A Republican Party fueled with unprecedented gushers of corporate cash that draws political life support from the medieval wing of several fundamentalist religions, whose fantastical beliefs about women's biology are rooted in their ironclad devotion to patriarchy.

A Democratic Party also overly dependent on the parasitic finance sector, that is now reaching back to the Lily Ledbetter Equal Pay Act of 2009 to symbolize its commitment to women's economic empowerment. It depends for political fuel in no small part on the indisputable fact that the Republicans are profoundly scary.

Polls show the 2 running neck in neck.

In fact, this election offers women a clear choice. The Republican platform would make criminals of the 30% of American women who've had an abortion (including me, once because of a fetal anomaly diagnosed in my second trimester). The Affordable Care Act, which Paul Ryan has voted repeatedly to repeal, assures more affordable birth control and extends Medicare's financial health, in contrast to Ryan's proposal to privatize it.

But it's not enough to debunk the opposition's lies, or to point out that they rely on stoking fear and anger. Some recent polls of women who are not politically active show that they do react viscerally to the demeaning insults slung by decision-makers they perceive as "mean, old, white men." But they are living difficult lives, bounded not only by state legislatures that snatch away their birth control and penalize them for their reproductive decisions, but by extensive financial hardship. One quote: "I'm happy this month that I haven't had to sell plasma to feed my children."

So here are some things to call for in Charlotte:

1. An iron clad commitment to preserving and protecting Social Security and Medicare. These two programs form the bedrock of women's financial security as we age. They are under attack explicitly by the Republicans. And too frequently for comfort, our side also periodically lip synchs the lies about the needs to reform these "entitlements." Let's hear Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid and future House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirm that the programs are solvent, and that they will not compromise on preserving and improving these programs.

2. It's great that Nancy Keenan of NARAL and Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood will be speaking. Women's rights to make their own decisions about their reproductive health are fundamental to our economic and personal wellbeing, including access to legal, affordable birth control and abortion. We hope their introductions will include words of support from HHS and the Surgeon General.

3. Finally: Lots of women. On the podium, speaking, in charge, active, visible, and vocal. Women of all races, and for that matter, candidates for races. We know who the top ticket nominees are. Let's give a boost to the EMILY's List all-star roster of pro-choice Democratic women candidates, people like Maggie Hassan for governor of New Hampshire, Congressional candidates like Grace Meng, Christie Vilsack, Val Demings, and Tammy Duckworth, and Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin for Senate, and of course, incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill. Since Canadian-born former governor Jennifer Granholm can't run for president, nominate her now for a Cabinet post, if she wants one, and give her air time.

We're going to write checks, emails and op eds, as well as getting out the vote. We have power. Let's recognize and exercise it.

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