Thinking About Not Voting?June 12, 2008
In the wake of Hillary Clinton suspending her presidential campaign on Saturday, everyone has been talking about where her supporters will go now. The Sunday morning newspapers, airwaves, and blogs were full of speculation from the “experts” and the perspectives of those who voted for her. Some said they would continue to support the Democratic Party and vote for Barack Obama. Others, many of whom cite Obama’s relative lack of experience, said they would cross party lines and vote for John McCain, even though Clinton and Obama have much more similar voting records and stances on issues. Koryne Horbal, the founder of the DFL Feminist Caucus in Minnesota, is causing quite a controversy by trying to create a write-in campaign for Clinton, even while acknowledging that it could cost the Democrats the White House in November. A blogger on Uncensored Feminista called this “irresponsible feminism.”
Most disheartening to me, however, are the Clinton supporters who say they’ll just stay home if she isn’t selected as the vice presidential candidate. It’s disturbing enough that our country has such a low percentage of citizens who exercise their right (and responsibility) to vote, but it’s even worse when women, whose foremothers fought so hard for the right to vote, don’t exercise that right. Over the last several elections, women have been seen as a powerful voting bloc, and politicians have taken note. Speeches tailored to soccer moms and security moms, Clinton’s infamous 3 a.m. phone call ads, and candidates seeking the endorsement of women’s groups are a few examples. Yet women lose this power when we don’t invoke it. June 4 was the 89th anniversary of the date Congress approved the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and sent it to the states for ratification. What would those who fought so hard to guarantee women’s suffrage think of those who refuse to vote this year? What do you think?
Critical issues — educational equity, retirement security, a fair and balanced judiciary, civil rights, workplace fairness, reproductive rights, healthcare reform, and equal pay — are at stake each time Americans go to the ballot box. To me, these issues are too important to even think about staying home on Election Day.
There are several things you can do to ensure that women’s voices and issues are heard on Election Day, Nov. 4, 2008. Encourage other women to vote by sending them AAUW’s voter e-card; if they are not registered to vote, encourage them to register. Read AAUW’s Woman-to-Woman Voter Turnout: A Manual for Community-Based Campaigns to Mobilize Women to Vote for tips on how you can help get more women to the polls. Finally, get informed by reading more about AAUW’s Voter Education Campaign.