...From Atop the Soapbox

Those who stay away from the election think that one vote will do no good.
‘Tis but one step more to think one vote will do no harm.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Hey! You registered voter chicks in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah -- I have a pop quiz for you! (This also goes for any of y’all who live in a state that has a presidential primary coming up in the future...)

What will you be doing on February 5th?

(A) Good grief -- that’s next week! I don’t know what I’m doing in the next couple of hours, much less next week.

(B) The glamourous usual -- carpool, soccer practice, piano lessons, helping with homework, cooking dinner, laundry.

(C) Why do you want to know? What’s so special about February 5th? Is there some sort of fabulous function that day that I don’t know about? Do I need to book a babysitter? Get a new outfit?

(D) I’ll be speaking out and letting people know just what I think and how I feel about important issues and ideas facing our country and our community.

I’ll be voting.

Psst... the go-to answer is (D).


Did you know...
... 22 million women on their own did not vote in the 2000 presidential election. This is the largest group of non-voters in our democratic process. Voting together, women on their own could determine who wins and loses elections.

Women don’t vote...
... because they felt before that they weren’t affected by the election process or its outcomes.

... because none of the candidates on the ballot met their “personal criteria.”

... because they’re “too busy.”

... because they didn’t think their votes would make that big of a difference.

When was the last time you cast your vote in an election? In this year’s primaries? In 2004 for the last Presidential election? In 2000? Can’t remember?

Guess what -- no worries about any of this. The great thing about voting is that as long as you’re a registered voter, there’s always another opportunity around the corner to let your voice be heard. It's kinda like getting a less-than-desirable haircut. Hair (usually) always grows back. Problem solved. Regarding this voting thing though -- the key is not to let the oft-infrequent opportunities constantly pass you by.

Here's what I've learned in my just-over-25 years as a registered voter: Voting is one of those things that may seem like a little gesture when in reality, it’s a big statement.

Vote early and vote often.
~ Al Capone

Granted, casting one’s vote can sometimes feel like an obligation, especially when adding a stop by the polls might mean shifting schedules and rearranging appointments. But -- casting a vote in any election is our right, our privilege and our chance to share OUR opinions in a venue where they will be heard and counted.

Think of it this way -- not voting lets other people make the decisions for you, and, speaking for myself, nothing pisses me off more than having someone speak for me without my consent or without an opportunity to put my two cents in. I can feel my blood pressure rising just imagining this. PS: By not voting, you forfeit the right to complain about whoever’s in office. Those elected officials aren’t really representing you, because you never spoke up and said what you thought should happen in the first place.

Muse upon that for a moment. That scenario more than kinda sucks, doesn't it.

Women, just a few generations before ours, were not able to vote; many had to literally fight to give us the opportunity to let our voices be heard. Our gender won -- and I do mean won -- the right to vote in 1920 with the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. This achievment took nearly 75 years to come to fruition, starting with the first Women’s Rights Convention held in 1848. Petitions, pickets and personal sacrifice -- many suffragettes were arrested, held illegally, and treated badly in prison -- were the hallmarks of the struggle that culminated in a quiet passage of the 19th Amendment on August 26, 1920.

If our fem-ancestors worked that diligently and passionately to secure something that we now consider a basic human right and often take for granted, the least we can do is to honor their dedicated efforts and take the time to share our opinions.

The very least.

The possibilities are endless for what could happen if our gender let its voices be heard. Look at Election Day as an opportunity to invest and educate. Find out what the issues are. Read about the candidates. Watch the debates. Ask questions. Spend time not just on candidate websites, but sites focusing on the objective side of politics. Think about what matters to you. To your family. To your community.

And come Primary Election Day, whether it’s next week, next month or whenever, after you have visited your polling site, put that “I VOTED” sticker firmly on your chest and headed out to tackle the rest of your day -- you can smile proudly with the knowledge that you have made a significant mark on your world.

Democracy... it’s a good thing.

Resolved, That the women of this country ought to be enlightened in regard to the laws under which they -live, that they may no longer publish their degradation, by declaring themselves satisfied with their present position, nor their ignorance, by asserting that they have all the rights they want...

Resolved, therefore, That, being invested by the Creator with the same capabilities, and the same consciousness of responsibility for their exercise, it is demonstrably the right and duty of woman, equally with man, to promote every righteous cause, by every righteous means; and especially in regard to the great subjects of morals and religion, it is self-evidently her right to participate with her brother in teaching them, both in private and in public, by writing and by speaking, by any instrumentalities proper to be used, and in any assemblies proper to be held; and this being a self-evident truth, growing out of the divinely implanted principles of human nature, any custom or authority adverse to it, whether modern or wearing the hoary sanction of antiquity, is to be regarded as self-evident falsehood, and at war with the interests of mankind.

~ Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions
Woman's Rights Convention
Held at Seneca Falls, 19-20 July 1848


one_muse said...

This is brilliant! BRILLIANT! Thank you! I've been yelling at my nieces for the past several elections about this.

Somewhere I read a great bumper sticker: "Don't worry about those pesky civil liberties. If you ignore them, they'll just go away."

Sprezzatura said...

Did you just quote Al Capone AND the Seneca Falls Convention?

Next time you are in DC, the Bombay and tonic is so on me.


laura petrie said...

Make it a Grey Goose and tonic and you've got a deal ;-)

Thanks, y'all for your kind words.

The disappointing primary results here in F.L.A. have fired me up -- while I couldn't work for my candidate (*cough*Obama*cough*), I figure I'd do the next best thing and spout off on this whole voter apathy issue.

Stay tuned -- and chime in. We're in this together.