Wednesday, April 05, 2006

19 Million Young Women Can't ALL Be Wrong, Can They?

I'm taking a Political Science class this semester. I thought it was going to be boring, complicated and generally frustrating. I am pleased to announce that while it is a bit complicated, it is also really interesting and empowering. Knowing how government works makes you more likely to take part in the process. As long as government is just this big machine operating somewhere out there in the ether there is not much motivation to get involved with it. Yep, knowledge really is power.

I admit that when I was younger, I didn't give a damn about the whole thing. As far as I was concerned, government was run by a bunch of old, rich, white guys who weren't connected to my problems and would not have given a damn anyway. I figured, since I do not own a large oil company or run a bank, I didn't have much power. Maybe that's still true. However, I know that I feel less like a victim when I get out and vote, or write a letter to my senators or sign a petition. Hey, I may not be able to hire a bunch of lobbyists, but I can at least get my voice out there in the world. And I'm finding out that there are a lot of people that share my views on say, abortion rights, environmental issues and education. Hmmmmm.....when lots of people get together they can often overpower the big oil company or snotty bank in making policies for the nation. Damn, this is actually pretty cool.

I just read in a new book entitled "The F-Word, Feminism in Jeopardy - Women, Politics and the Future" that about 19 million young women between the ages of 18 to 25 DID NOT vote in the last election! Holy crap, ladies! WTF?

The weird thing is, these young women are not ignorant. They are generally educated (or in college) and are active in their communities. They volunteer at the old folks home, they work with kids or at the local animal shelter. So, what gives? Apparently they feel left out of the political process. They feel like their vote doesn't really matter and that they are not represented. They also say that they don't relate to either political party and they do not want to be labeled. They don't want to be boxed in.

Ok, I get that, I really do. I even feel the same way myself often. Let's face it, Pres. Bush and most of congress is not exactly concerned with the things that make my blood boil. But, they would be if more of us told them to be. This is a democracy, but it's only a democracy of the people who get involved. There is a vicious cycle created by cynicism in our country. People who feel powerless and left out of the process don't vote, if they don't vote then government doesn't know that they are concerned. Why should a congressperson cater to the needs of people that don't vote? Since their needs are not being addressed, these people feel more powerless and cynical and continue not to vote. And on and on it goes.

I would just like to remind all you ladies that have not been to the polls lately that it was not so long ago that you were not allowed to vote. Our great-grandmothers fought tooth and nail to get us this right. They were the ones who got us useful things like Planned Parenthood (back in the 1890s!) and subsidized childcare. How would you feel if that basic right was denied to you simply because you have a uterus? If nothing else we owe it to the ladies who came before us to get our butts down to the polling location and check a box. Imagine what 19 million young female voters could have done to the last presidential election. Imagine what would happen if 19 million young women voted in the congressional mid-term election this fall.

Yeah, it's not a perfect system. It's got a lot of problems and politicians are pretty scummy sometimes (ok, often). But it's the only system we have and if you want to see it change you gotta tell them you want change.

If you aren't registered to vote and you wanna be, than go check out this link. It gives you the registration form and lots of useful info.

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