The time to vote is finally here.
I have to admit, although I am nervous to see the outcome of an election so closely tied, I am also breathing a sigh of relief. If I had to listen to campaign news for much longer, I probably would have burst into tears like four-year-old Abigael Evans. The little girl, who has achieved instant YouTube fame with over 11 million hits in less than a week, said it best – we are all “just tired of Bronco Bama and Mitt Womney.”
At least Abigael received an apology from NPR for their over-coverage of the campaign – I feel that many media sources owe an apology to Americans for their intense focus on campaign blunders rather than important issues at hand. Do I have to remind you how much time was spent discussing:
1. The impending doom of Big Bird
2. The “Declaration of Interdependence”
3. “Binders full of women”
4. Obama’s lack of energy at the first debate
And that’s just to name a few. Meanwhile, women’s issues were largely ignored or laughed at – I honestly think the word “woman” was said more in the week following the binders comment than at any other time in the campaign. Now election day is finally here and I am feeling disillusioned with the whole process. I’m sure a lot of you are too.
I hope that this feeling is not going to keep any of us out of the polls today. We have two choices, and though we may find issue with both of them, we have to play the hand we have been dealt. What I really hope is that four years from now, our candidate options look a lot different. I want to see more women, in the Republican, Democrat, and Independent parties. There are so many misconceptions about women in politics, and it’s going to take many women to change that.
It’s certainly not easy to be a woman in politics. Remember the media coverage on Sarah Palin? Whether you love or hate her, you have to admit that when she ran for vice-president four years ago, a lot more than her political views came into question. She was scrutinized for her motherhood, looks, femininity, sexual orientation – issues that rarely come up when a male is running for office. And what about Michigan representative Lisa Brown? She tried to stand up for women’s rights and was quickly silenced. What’s a girl to do?
The answer is keep fighting for our place, whether or not winning is an option. I just learned yesterday about Victoria Claflin Woodhull, the first woman to ever run for president in 1872 – yes, that’s 48 years before the 19th amendment to the Constitution was ratified and women had the right to vote!
I don’t think Woodhull went into that election expecting to win, or even come close. She was nominated by the newly formed “Equal Rights Party,” who nominated Frederick Douglas as her running mate. Douglas never accepted the nomination, feeling it would be a dangerous political move, and maybe he was right. Woodhull was arrested several days before the election on an “obscenity” charge for publishing an article revealing scandalous details of a prominent minister’s affair, who she felt held double standards when it came to men and women’s sexuality. Needless to say, she lost the campaign.
You don’t have to be running for office like Victoria to make a difference in the political sphere. I know where my talents are best utilized, and that’s behind my computer screen talking to you guys. Others of us are protestors, organizers, or lawyers, but all of us are working toward a common goal. The most important (and the easiest) action women can take over the next four years is to keep talking and consciousness-raising. Don’t get comfortable in oppression; don’t get used to your voice not being heard.
Today, let’s get out there and vote. Four years from now, let’s make sure we’re voting for someone even better.