The whole campaign season did not just depend upon the presidential race that finally came to an end last night. Yes, the country voted clearly to give Barack Obama another four years in the White House. He received more than 50 percent of the vote and won handily in the electoral college. Yet, it is what happened down the ballot that shows the nation’s move toward progressive values.
It appears that Democrats will pick up a couple seats in the lower chamber but the real change happened on the senatorial level. Voters said no way to Republicans Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock after they attempted to scapegoat women and downplay the trauma of rape and sexual abuse. Furthermore, women won in Massachusetts, North Dakota, Hawaii, and Wisconsin for their first terms. All four of them will be more progressive legislators than their predecessors. In Wisconsin Tammy Baldwin will be the first openly gay Senator. Meanwhile, Arizona will send the first openly bi-sexual person to the House as Kyrsten Simena appears to have won the 9th Congressional seat.
That leads me to four ballot initiatives in which voters said yes to equality in three state and no to discrimination in another. Maine, Maryland, and Washington voted to legalize same-sex marriage. Or better yet – recognize the love and commitment that two people have for each other, regardless of sexual orientation. Minnesota’s ballot question would have amended the state constitution to ban marriage equality. Voters said no to the amendment and state sanctioned discrimination. These four victories are the first for marriage equality at the state level.
California voters had the opportunity to vote on a few ballot initiatives (only in California) with a potential impact on the nation. Voters said yes to raising taxes the richest of California households. They also said no to limiting the political voices of working families in a proposition that would limit union involvement in election… while continuing to allow corporations near unfettered control.
Washington and Colorado did not want to be outdone. Both states voted to legalize small amounts of recreational marijuana for people over the age of 21. These two states now lead the movement to decriminalize a harmless drug that has sadly placed too many people in prison and cost taxpayers far too much money.
We could go further into the details of statewide initiatives but these pretty much show the drift of the country. Mitt Romney stayed competitive because of whites and older voters. President Obama won re-election because he appealed to a more diverse populace. He won with voters under 40 and each minority group. Simply put he won over a majority of Americans.
The results from last night do not guarantee over night success as Color of Change says in the statement:
“Throughout the election, the choice couldn’t have been more clear. President Obama’s commitment to fight for everyday people in his next term stood in stark contrast to the failed economic and social policies of the other party.
“But we’ve still got more work left to do to ensure that our efforts at the polls result in real change for our families. There are far too many folks suffering from the effects of this long-lived downturn economy, and we look forward to working with President Obama and advocates across the nation to push for reforms and policy solutions that will help Americans everywhere achieve the American Dream.”
That much is true. But the country did move to the left last night. I find it hopeful. I am heartened by the results.
Statistically I should feel the opposite. I am a straight, white male and a Christian. Born and raised in rural Illinois. I should be a Republican because of either social issues or fiscal concerns. But I do not identify with the party because of my compassion for others, regardless of who they love, their ability, their ethnicity, faith or gender. I believe in equality and justice for all. It is for those reasons that I find opportunity to further justice and equality after last night.
I welcome the work we have ahead of us because their is grace and love on the left. Walk the progressive walk and experience the grace throughout a diverse and welcoming cause. Feel the love in accepting people for who they are and the compassion to advocate for others.
The country moved to the left. Let us rejoice for today. Let us mobilize for tomorrow.
Photo by HowardLake
During last night’s Indiana Senate debate the Republican candidate, Richard Mourdock, did more than stick his foot in his mouth.
I believe life begins at conception. The only exception I have for to have an abortion is in the case of the life of the mother. I struggled with myself for a long time but I came to realize life is that gift from God, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape. It is something that God intended to happen.
Mourdock joined a club made exclusively of Republicans but a club that seems to be growing as the November election nears. Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh made a reprehensible comment about exceptions for the life of the mother following his debate.
“There is no such exception. With modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance.”
Of course who can forget Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin’s claim that a woman’s body can shut down their reproductive system during a “legitimate rape.” It all comes on the heals of legislation that tried to redefine rape as “forcible rape.” The bill received 216 Republican sponsors and 11 Democrats (including the one who Mourdock is running against).
These statements may seem to come from the fringe of the Republican Party. They may seem to come from people who hold close to a God that turns lemons into lemonade. They even come from ordained pastors and politicians like Mike Huckabee. He too claims that women should not be allowed to have an abortion in cases of rape or incest. He does not even like some types of contraception!
The Republican party is against abortion and the move to demonize it flies in the face of their so-called small government argument. These candidates want to create an aura of false information so it becomes more palatable to ban all abortion. If women cannot get pregnant because of rape or that medicine is so far advance that a pregnancy never jeopardizes a woman’s life… then why do we need the exceptions.
The misinformation will not set in overnight. It is a long game to move the country further and further to the right. Pushing an an anti-choice agenda is not truly about a fetus becoming a child. Nor about contraception intervening on God’s will for you to become pregnant. This is about control. Control over women and their bodies.
The Republican party is filling up with men, hiding behind their faith, that want to dictate women’s health decisions. These politicians threaten the freedom of half of American citizens.
Reflect on these words from Rachel Maddow:
“But think about the big picture here for a second. Between those two guys, between Akin and Ryan. Which one is worse? Saying you want to force a woman who has just conceived against her will to also give birth against her will by order of the government?
Or – telling yourself a fake science fairy tale so you can pretend those women don’t exist, and you would never want the kind of government that would do something so barbaric to a woman for nine months after the barbarism that was done to her in the incident of rape. Which is worse? The person with the fairy tale or the person without one? Because they both want the same policy either way. It’s just that in the newfangled Republican Mike Huckabee way of justifying it, they drop the fake science fairy tale. They don’t bother trying to make it seem less barbaric.”
Women, and the men who believe in equality for women, must give this some serious thought when they go to the polls.
Nothing can be more personal than making a decision on how to handle one’s own body and the privacy of that choice. It just might be the very essence of The Political is Personal mantra I hold so dear. For decades now the right-wing has tried to demonize abortion and women who choose to terminate a pregnancy. Finally someone running for elected office decided to begin the process of combating the shame thrust upon these women.
In her keynote speech on the war on women portion of Netroots Nation, Darcy Burner, asked women who have had an abortion to stand (if they were willing). Burner then asked people willing to stand with these women and say no to the right’s tactics of hate and shame.
The moment comes later in the video but the whole speech about power structures is a vital must for people to know.
Sadly, the right decided to completely take the speech out of context by portraying it as some celebration of abortion. It’s like the believe pro-choice means an advocacy of having all pregnancies terminated. Anti-choice right winger Melissa Clouthier wrote:
It was difficult to estimate the number of women as they were sprinkled through out the audience. They stood alone while Burner admonished the attendees to hold their applause.
Then Burner asked the others seated in the audience to stand and give these women a standing ovation. The audience complied enthusiastically.
I sat during this spectacle.
Burner said,”If you are a woman in this room, and statistically this is true of about 1/3 of the women in this room, if you’re a woman in this room who has had an abortion and is willing to come out about it, please stand up.”
She continued, “Now, if you are willing to stand with every woman who is willing to come out about having had an abortion, please stand up.”
Nearly everyone stood.
Burner said,”This is how we change the stories in people’s past. We need to make it okay for women to come out about the choices they make.”
The left will say that they’re not pro-abortion, they’re pro-choice or they’re pro-women. It was clear, though, that abortion itself was elevated as something good and something to be celebrated.
Only someone with close mind could have sat in the convention hall and interpreted the speech in that manner. I was there and I stood proudly with the women who were not afraid to identify in public that they had an abortion. They should not be afraid to be public about their choice. There is no reason for another person to spew vitriol against woman who has a medical procedure decided between themselves and a doctor.
Real pro-lifers would support women’s reproductive health, provide support for children already born, & say no to hatred. I stand in solidarity with the one in three women who will exercise their right to control their body.
Melissa Harris-Perry waded deep into the politics of African-American’s hair. The segment above does a good job of showing the type of dialogue featured on her show. There’s more to watch from her show but the societal pressure placed on blacks, particularly black women, to have “normal” looking hair. But society has defined normal to be white… which is purely bull shit. Normal hair should be defined what grows naturally and not what a majority of people in power just happen to have! Need some lessons? MHP is on the case!
I’ve written about how hair is political when Willow Smith’s Whip My Hair made it onto the charts.
While the song is just another catchy tune to make the Smith’s more money it also carries with it a strong message of hope to little girls of color around the country. Willow had this to say about her song “Whip My Hair means don’t be afraid to be yourself and don’t let anybody tell you that that’s wrong. Because the best thing is you.” That is a great message for young girls to take home with them.
Not the greatest writing on my part but Willow’s message is still true. We need to create a society in which people do not need to hide what is natural for them. That includes who someone loves, how they practice their faith, and yes something that many might see as simple… one’s own hair.
The National Women’s Law Center put up a great graphic on this very question a couple weeks ago. Take a look to see where you stand. Tell us in the comments.
Originally published on Care2.com’s Causes.
In a bold move, Congresswoman Gwen Moore of Wisconsin introduced the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act by sharing her personal experience as a rape and domestic violence survivor.
Congresswoman Moore begins speaking at the 48 second mark and goes into her own personal history at the 2 minute mark in the video.
The key part here rests on her thoughts pertaining to the male-dominated, Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee voting against a bill that usually has bipartisan support.
I don’t have enough time to share all these experiences with you but I can tell you that when this bill came out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with all the Republican Senators, all of the guys voting no, it brought up some terrible memories for me of having boys sit in a locker room and sort of bet that I, the egghead, couldn’t be ‘had.’ And then the appointed boy, when he saw that I wasn’t going to be so willing, completed a date rape and then took my underwear to display it to the rest of the boys. This is what American women are facing.
Republicans want to make it tougher for law enforcement to protect women from violence. If they felt otherwise, they would support a bill that has helped drop the rate of domestic violence by 50 percent since its inception in 1994.
“Domestic violence is a cancer that pervades our communities and our homes,” said Rep. Moore. “As a survivor of domestic violence I feel it is my personal responsibility to reach back and help those who have been victimized.”
According to the Rape, Abuse, & Incest Nation Network, a person is sexually assaulted every two minutes. More than half are not reported and roughly 97 percent of rapists will never spend a day in jail.
With those stats, how can the Republican Party deny strengthening the ability of law enforcement to do their job?
The total cost of the thirty ads was not revealed but the spokesperson of the organization is supposed to be gathering that data. A Sun-Times reporter asked Rev. Broden about funding neighborhood groups or clinics themselves instead of spending the money on the billboards.
The video can be difficult to hear due to a lot of community opposition of the ads. They remained vocal throughout the press conference as well as the media’s question and answer session. While the organization does not need local neighborhood input prior to placing an advertisement, Washington Park community members felt they should have reached out to local women’s organizations.
When past billboards went up in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and New York the organization, Life Always, faced criticism of racism and sexism by targeting minority neighborhoods and women. Atlanta Journal Constitution columnist Cynthia Tucker wrote, “It’s both sexist and racist to suggest that black women don’t have the intellectual and emotional firepower to make their own decisions.” The New York ad (covered here) brought charges of racial profiling by the anti-choice organization prior to it being pulled.
In a prepared statement Planned Parenthood of Illinois stated:
Planned Parenthood of Illinois provides care to more than 60,000 men, women, and teens each year. More than ninety percent of our services are preventive, and include: lifesaving cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, contraceptive consultations, and GYN exams. In 2010, we provided 34,770 STI tests, 161,678 family planning visits, 15,440 contraception consultations, 19,572 cervical cancer screenings, and 21,393 clinical breast exams. Sixty percent of our patients live at or below the federal poverty level.
We know that African-American women are disproportionately affected by the current health care system which involves multiple barriers to accessing quality, affordable care. This results in higher rates of sexually transmitted infections, unintended pregnancy and abortion.
Life Always is waging much of its campaign against Planned Parenthood by calling it racist under the guise of founder Margaret Sanger’s eugenic beliefs more than 80 years ago (she died in 1966 respected by black civil rights leaders). Planned Parenthood has countlessly denounced her past comments and upholds her as a pioneer in the reproductive rights movement.
Rev. Broden claimed Life Always’ advertising methods were not racist because the speakers were black. If his reasoning was true then Planned Parenthood would not be racist because they have representatives and leaders who are people of color as well. Furthermore, he claimed it was not a race issue while a few seconds later he claimed it was one.
The topic of reproductive choice is always one fraught with emotions. Both sides of the debate argue passionately, as you can tell with the press conference (both sides). Regardless of one’s opinion there is no denying the money spent on those 30 ads would have been better spent on the neighborhoods they reside in.
The anti-choice organization Life Always continued its campaign against Planned Parenthood with another ad. This time the target is the predominately African-American south side of Chicago. A focal point of the ad is the leadership of President Barack Obama, who has resided on the south side for years, by contrasting it with the abortion rates among blacks in Cook County.
All four featured speakers where touted as black leaders, Pastor Stephen Broden, Rev. Derek A. McCoy, Rev. Caesar LeFlore, Rev. Isaac Hayes all spoke using statistics to make their case of the attack on the black community. According to the organization “Every 21 minutes, our next possible leader is aborted” while standing in an empty lot at 58th and State. The irony of the depressed state of the neighborhood may have been lost. Particularly in regards to financially supporting organizations in downtrodden neighborhoods Rev. Broden responded, “of course we don’t fund them, we can’t fund all them.”
When questioned of Life Always’ motivation to target Planned Parenthood, spokesperson Marissa Gabrysch utilized Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger’s eugenic comments from nearly 80 years ago. Whether of not the organization believes Planned Parenthood is carry on the same philosophy “It certainly seems that way,” said Gabrysch. “I certainly couldn’t speak to the motives of any individual certainly people that I don’t know but it does appear that Planned Parenthood does target their facilities in minority neighborhoods and that seems in keeping with the mission of Margaret Sanger.”
I will get more up including video and pictures later today.
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