Here’s What I Choose This Election

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This election, I choose

I have been particularly quiet on social media this election season. Maybe you’ve noticed – my dad did and he asked me about it a few weeks ago.

And yes, I have been quiet. This election season has been hard for me. I’ve felt like everyone is just shouting at each other and nobody is sitting down and really listening to each other. I can’t make that better by also shouting at my 600+ Facebook friends. During this election season, I have had lots of meaningful one on one or small group conversations with my friends and for those I am grateful. I am grateful for friends who feel the same way as I do, who have been a safe space for me to talk about my anxieties about the election. I am grateful for friends who feel differently than I do, who have challenged me and caused me to think because I absolutely think that we need people of all walks of life in our lives.

But overall, I think this quote from The Art of Simple summarizes my feelings well. (By the way, you should totally click on that link because it is A Nonpartisan Guide to Surviving November 2016 and it’s full of amazing suggestions.)

I have to confess that I was truly shocked by how much anxiety this election caused me. I’ve never put any political bumper stickers on my car, but I’ve always cared deeply about being informed about what’s happening in the world.

As many of you know, I studied political science in college. So for me to feel so much anxiety about this election feels, in and of itself, unnerving. I love to vote and this year, I’m just dreading it. It feels like a chore, instead of an awesome privilege that lots of people around the world aren’t given. But what this election has taught me, more than anything, is the same thing that I guess life has been trying to teach me forever. Other people are out of my control. I can no more control them and what they do or say, then they can control me.

So while I won’t tell you who I am voting for this election season, here is what I can tell you that I choose.

I am choosing to love my friends and family, no matter who they vote for.

I am choosing to be kind to those who think differently than me.

I am choosing to remember that this election is just one part of life and even though it feels all consuming and everywhere, there are so many good and beautiful things still in the world.

I am choosing to look for the beautiful things.

I am choosing, in the wise words of Mr. Rogers, to look for the helpers.

I am choosing not to let the outcome of the election define me or my future.

I am choosing to show my kids that voting is important.

I am choosing to show my kids that we can love all people.

I am choosing to love myself and not let anyone make me think less of myself.

I am choosing to remember that God is in control.

I am choosing to remember that nothing can separate me from the amazing love of God.

I am choosing to have conversations with people and to try and really listen to them.

I am choosing to remember that we all have to still learn and live and work together after November 8th.

I am choosing to remember that things can change, even when change seems impossible.

I am choosing hope.

I am choosing not to let this election cycle change my hope.

This is what I choose this election cycle, no matter who wins.

Will you join me in choosing these things? 

Vote!

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This is my get out the vote spiel for you all. Basically it is really important to me that everyone votes because it is one of the best ways to have your say in the government. I believe strongly in voting. People worked really hard for me to have this right – I’m not just going to throw it away.

I know especially in Wisconsin, that people are getting a little tired of politics. I get it. I’ve voted more this year than I probably will in any other year of my life. But it doesn’t make voting any less important.

People give lots of reasons why they don’t vote and to be honest most of them are lame. I actually am going to put this video by Hank Green here because I think he does a really good job refuting the reasons that people say they’re not voting.

To me, voting is what separates America from being a place where we have no say and no voice and everything like that. How many votes do you get in a dictatorship? Zero. It’s a very important part of the democratic process and I believe that America should be a democracy and I want to be part of making that democracy better, so that’s why I vote. I do think, like Hank mentions, that voting is a responsibility. In some countries, voting is mandatory. I kind of think it should be like that here because if you don’t vote, you are throwing so much away. You may not have money to help make your community a better place, but you can vote for politicians who can secure funding to make your community a better place. And yes, I know, perhaps you don’t think the candidates are that great. To be honest, I don’t think they are either. Given my choice, I would not have America be a two party system, I would have us have many parties so that we have more choices. And yes, I know we can have third parties now, but in effect if you know what it takes to get a third party candidate on the ballot in all 50 states, you would realize that we are an effective two party state. I don’t love all of the candidates opinions on everything, but I’ve decided what the important issues are and I’m going to go with the candidate that agrees with me most on them.

So anyways, if you need to register to vote, I’m going to insert a little widget below that will help you get registered to vote. I just did it since I need to update my voter registration since moving. It was really easy, it automatically filled in the form for me, I printed it off and I will be mailing it when I finish this post (and when I find a stamp because I’m not sure where I put them).

 

An Announcement, An Apology, and Why We Should Talk About Politics

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I have to apologize because I have been bad at blogging recently. I know my goal is to keep up with it, but to tell you the truth, I’m pregnant. I mean, I would assume that if you know me in real life, you already know, but I’ve been a little mum about it thus far outside of my Facebook page, which is not visible to the public. So for those of you who don’t already know, I am pregnant and that’s why I’ve been a little lax with the blogging. It’s been hard for me to keep up with my schoolwork, work at my two jobs, and then come home and still have energy to blog. But I’m graduating soon and I’m still going to try to keep up with the blog – it may just look at little different than before. For one thing, I probably won’t blog as often until I’m done with the school year. For the second thing, I’m sure being pregnant and becoming a mom has the possibility of changing how I view pregnancy and view motherhood – I won’t be talking about it now like some distant thing in the future for me. It’s happening to me now and it’s a part of my new reality. But enough about that. Let’s get on to the thing that’s been itching inside me for a while. I know it’s not directly related to women in politics, but I think it’s something that needs to be said because I talk about politics so much, why I think it’s important to have discussions about politics.

I’ve seen this my whole life but it seems to be popping up a lot more recently. People or websites not wanting to talk about politics, afraid that someone will be offended or someone will insult someone else and the conversation will be wholly unproductive and mean-spirited. But I think it’s important to talk about it and here are my three reasons why.

1. Politics effect our everyday life. 

There are a lot of people who think that politics don’t effect their lives, but this is a myth. Even a law that you think doesn’t effect you can have a lot of effect on your lives. Think about it. How much of your day is influenced by the government? Think about it – the food you eat has been approved by the FDA, the cars you drive in have to meet safety standards set by the governments, the rules of the road are set by the government, etc, etc, etc. Any law in front of the Congress has the possibility of passing and effecting your life. That’s the way the government works and if you ignore it or pretend it doesn’t exist, sooner or later, it will effect you in a way that you don’t like. But if you are talking about it and having a conversation about it, maybe you will find out about something sooner or be able to work together to stop a law you don’t like.

2. If you don’t learn how to talk about it in a civilized way, then of course, these discussions will end badly.

How do you learn how to do something or get better at it? You practice. If people are always so afraid to talk about politics, then whenever it does happen to come up, you won’t know how to handle it. The more you work on talking about something where you may have a strong opinion on it, the more you will learn how to handle your opinion and talk to other people that you disagree with about it. But if you spend your whole life avoiding it, then when you do find yourself in these situations (because I think it’s inevitable), you won’t know how to handle yourself. The only way you can learn to ride a bike is by trying – the only way you can learn to have civilized discussions about politics is by trying to have them. Otherwise, without ever practicing, you will have a harder time having civilized discussions about it.

3. You can learn something. 

Chances are, most people won’t seek out information that’s opposite their viewpoint. Even on your own side, chances are you won’t know everything about it. I’m not saying you have to change your mind or your viewpoint or anything like that – not at all, because you’re entitled to your opinion. But you might learn something new that you might not have learned without have discussions with other people, because you can’t read everything out there or know everything out there. This learning something you didn’t know before is one of the most valuable parts of discussions.

So there are my reasons – do you have any thoughts about it or any other reasons you think I’m missing?

Melissa

Off the Sidelines: My Take

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Up until this article, I had never even heard of Kristen Gillibrand. This may have to do with the fact that she is a senator from New York. But when I heard about her campaign (Off the Sidelines) to get more women involved in politics, it really piqued my interest.

Because I agree – there should be more women in politics. While researching this I learned that the number of women in Congress dropped (ever so slightly) in 2010. And there are less women in state governments than there were 10 years ago. And Ms. Gillibrand does make a good point – there are laws being made about women by a Congress that is largely male.

But I have a problem with Gillibrand’s campaign. Why? Because it seems like she only wants to get women involved in Democratic politics – not Republican or any independent politics. And I would be fine with that. If she wants to support Democratic women in politics, that’s her prerogative. What bothers me is that she’s not presenting this like it’s for Democrat women, but for all women. I’ll take the about page for example. (They’ve since rewritten the about page (as of 7/4/14) and redesigned the website – you can find the new one here but this text below is from the old one).

Kirsten knows that women who make an impact on our country all start by simply believing they can.

Getting off the sidelines is a state of mind. More women need to embrace the fact that their voice matters and that they can make a difference, with their vote, with their advocacy, with their candidacy.

More women must get off the sidelines and make a difference in their community. Whether it’s in the classroom, the boardroom, Congress or at home, it’s crucial that more women adopt this philosophy to affect change in ways both big and small. Because if they don’t, decisions will be made without them that they won’t like the outcome of.

Women have the power to shape the future, it’s just a matter of getting off the sidelines and getting involved.

That’s why Kirsten has launched OffTheSidelines, to make more women aware of the need to be involved in the decisions that affect their lives every day. Kirsten wants to let women know that their voice matters, to give them the resources to start to get more involved and tell the inspiring stories of women who already are.

That doesn’t sound partisan right? There’s not one mention of Democrats in that statement. In fact, it’s a lot of ideals I agree with. But when you look around at her website, to me, it becomes pretty clear that this is for Democrat women. On the website under get involved, it lists several things. If you click on the link “How You Can Get Off the Sidelines” it has several more links and suggestions. Some are innocent enough and not attached to anything (vote for example) but under categories such as Volunteer for a Campaign it only lists Emily’s List (a group for electing pro-choice Democrats who are women). Under Run for Office and Win! it has three non-partisan resource and then two that are strictly Democratic: The Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy (whose mission is to train pro-choice Democratic women) and Emerge America (for Democratic women). You could say to me, but Melissa, she has the non-partisan resources, to which I would say, she also listed to very partisan resources from one side without listing ANY from the other. Under Give or Raise money it has one link, to “Find candidates that share your value on ActBlue.” Upon going to ActBlue, you see their tagline says, “Want Blue states?” The majority of the resources she provides for women to get off the sidelines are aimed towards partisan, Democratic links. The women that I have found her getting behind in this Off the Sidelines effort are Kathy Hochul (D), Sarah Anker (D), and Terri Sewell (D). This campaign is largely supported by Democrats like Debbie Wasserman. She’s promoted her campaign on Emily’s List and they’ve said about her “And she shares the mission of Emily’s List — getting more Democratic women into office.” She’s been promoted (and guest posted for) blogs like Momocrats (“Raising the Next Generation of Blue).

Do you want further proof that her “Off the Sidelines” campaign is meant to encourage more Democratic women in politics than overall women in politics? She’s gotten involved in my home state of Wisconsin and is supporting five Democratic women who are running against the incumbents in the recall election. On the surface, this might look like she is just supporting women candidates. Except when you look at the fact that two of the Republican candidates who are already in office are women. The call she puts out clearly states that she wants only these women to be elected, regardless of the fact that two of the positions are already filled by women (News article is now missing as of 7/4/2014).

Sandy Pasch, a member of the Wisconsin state Assembly since 2008, is running against Alberta Darling in WI-SD-08.

Shelly Moore, a former high school teacher who was elected to the National Education Association (NEA) Board of Directors in 2005, is running against Sheila Harsdorf in WI-SD-10.

If it was really about getting all women involved in politics, wouldn’t these Republican women (Alberta Darling and Shelia Harsdorf) be good enough? But yet she is throwing her support (and invoking the name of Off the Sidelines) in with the Democratic candidates, further cementing for me the fact that this is about Democratic women being more involved and not all women being more involved.

And that’s not the only issue with it. If you go to her website, you will see a button on your homepage asking you to contribute to her re-election campaign. There is another link to contribute to her re-election campaign under the Get Involved Page. When you click on the contribute button, you’re brought to another page where it says your donations will go to her re-election campaign. Not a single link dedicated to giving money  to get more women in office, but three links to keeping one woman in office. She’s even on record saying, “This is very much part of my election campaign.” And I’m not the only one who has noticed this. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has written about it.

And this is not good for getting women involved in politics as a whole. If we really want women involved in politics, it needs to come from all parties.Because women are 50 percent of the population and if we want true representation of women in government, it will come from them being in both parties – not just in one party. If we only promote to women that they can belong to and be a part of this one party is that really empowering women? I don’t think it is. If we really want more women involved in government, we need to encourage them across the board, not just in one party or in one area of government.

So in light of this, I am going to make a pledge – for women who want to get involved in politics and for men who want to support women involved in politics. If you comment on the pledges, I will add your name to the list of people who have publicly said they support more women in government – in all the parties.

To see and sign the pledge for women, click here.

To see and sign the pledge for men, click here.

Sources Not Already Linked To:

P.S. I just hit 1,000 views on my blog and I am so, so appreciative. Thank you to everyone who reads.
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