Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Why Voting Matters For Girls’ Empowerment

Women Work, Women VoteWith the political season off to the races, it is time to talk about why voting and politics matter — especially for girls and women.  Voting is a way to share your voice.  It is a way to be heard.  It is a way to shape the policies that affect you — and others around you — on a daily basis.

If you vote, it matters.  If all women and girls were to vote, it would REALLY matter.  The important thing to remember is that the act of voting is — in itself — a way to take serious action.  A cool point is made from a WiseGEEK article below:

“Voting doesn’t mean that your candidate or your position will always win. But failing to vote means that you create greater opportunity for candidates or positions you support to lose, and you create more chance that candidates or ideas you don’t support will win. This is probably the most important part of exercising your right to vote. You opt out of the entire political process when you don’t, and you lose the opportunity of allowing your thoughts and opinions to hold sway.”

In Wisconsin yesterday there was a recall election — the third in the history of the United States.  While you may not think that local or state politics from a different state don’t affect you, they may.  In other words, if you feel powerless because you feel that local, smaller elections don’t have a voice in the larger picture in national politics, think again.

Your vote in local politics DOES matter. 

In NPR’s Seven Ways Wisconsin’s Recall Vote May Matter To You, they highlight a few ways that one local election may now impact a national audience:

  • Walker‘s win highlights the role of Big Money in the politics of our time. The recalls of various state officials in Wisconsin were aided and resisted by big players from outside the state from the beginning. But by the end of the yearlong struggle, the state had become a virtual bystander (and a battlefield) for the clash of titans from someplace else. The saturation TV advertising was toxic, but its exact effect on the eventual outcome is unclear. A day may come when independent voters are turned off by special elections that cost tens of millions of dollars and are financed by outside interests (including labor unions and billionaires who detest labor unions). Do independent voters mind if one candidate spends seven times as much as the other, taking most of his big checks from outside the state? Someday they might, but that time was not this Tuesday. Walker and Bartlett wound up with a vote split almost identical to what they had in the governor’s race in 2010 (when Wisconsin was just Wisconsin).
  • Walker‘s win may change labor politics in your state more generally. Private company unions may also feel greater pressure from statehouses and legislatures around the country. Although Walker worked hard to placate union people in the private sector (and ran nearly even among voters from private union households), there will be those who see his success in restricting collective bargaining in the public sector as a template to roll back collective bargaining across the board.
  • Walker‘s win could affect your state’s budget priorities. Labor policy was not the only cause of the recall vote. His resistance to taxes and preference for austerity in social programs and education were driven home in his first budget, accentuating a divide that already existed in the state. The revenue-versus-cutbacks debate is common across the states. It is also a dominant theme in the political gridlock in Washington. By surviving the recall, Walker has bolstered the morale of pro-austerity conservatives everywhere.

Even if you aren’t following the Walker recall, what is important to see is that the voices of less than 2% of the nation (the number of people living in Wisconsin according to the Census) may have just impacted national policies.

When you go to your local toll booth and vote — it matters.

Suffragist with a sign that says "Mr. President How Long Must Women Wait for Liberty?"The important thing is that you start following the politics that are in your area and that you vote for the people and ideals  you believe in.

The challenge is that politics often seem confusing to navigate.  It is helpful to learn the sources that exist, so you can make informed choices about the kinds of information you read or watch.  For example, there are networks and news sources that are openly “partisan,” meaning that they lean in favor of one party or another.  There are also news sources that are “non-partisan” and they go to great efforts to cover the politics of both parties evenly.

In Don Reisinger’s 2009 article on CNet he points out a few “Liberal” (sometimes identified as Democrats) “Conservative” (sometimes identified as Republicans) and “Non-Partisan” sites that can help get the ball rolling.

I have compiled a list of others — check it out!

WATRD Editor, Robyn Hussa


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