Inspiration is all around us. Act now state by state!

Pumpkin-Senior-Voter

This weekend men and women “Marched to the Polls” to raise awareness for the fast approaching  mid-term elections, November 6.

Even at a local fundraiser for a nonprofit arts association, I was inspired to see a high school senior who integrated a “Vote” message into her dance routine on stage. (See picture above)

In many states it is not too late to register to vote or to request absentee ballots. Check out this terrific article summarizing voting timetables by state.

This is it! Call your friends and family over the next week to encourage them to make sure they have not been purged from the voting rolls, that they are registered, know their polling place, and vote early if possible.

Do you need more inspiration to make change? Check out this brilliant song by Lynzy Lab lifted up by Jimmy Kimmel after it got traction online. Leaders need to recognize the needs and issues of all Americans. Raise your voice on November 6!

Vote.org – register to vote, check your registration
Ballotready.org – check out candidates up and down your ballot

I already protested that guy! Voting can stop the merry-go-round

Until the presidential election in 2016, I was not involved in activism. Even now I would not call myself an activist, because my efforts are inadequate and inconsistent as I try to balance with other life obligations.

But there was a moment in college when I was moved toward activism, if only for a moment…

In the 1980s, back when rape was called “date-rape” in college settings, my privileged university was happy to look the other way. Fraternity houses were given a mere slap on the wrist, a letter of condemnation, when it occurred in their houses. And it was occurring with disturbing frequency.

I participated with fellow students, primarily women, in a series of demonstrations  themed, “Take Back the Night.” These were night vigils during which we walked with candles and signs in support of the young women on campus who were victimized. We were only slightly successful at the time, moderately impacting the administration’s stance.

One experience at a frat party helped me relate. My girlfriend’s guy friend and his pals  invited us to look at a loft they constructed in their rooms. We kindly, and perhaps naively,  followed them through the halls to see the loft. From the doorway I said that it looked cool and one of them suggested I sit down to try the couch underneath. I crossed the room to the loft and as soon as I sat down was surprised to find he had closely followed my footsteps and plopped himself directly beside me while his friend closed the door while ushering my girlfriend farther down the hall. He lunged toward me and draped his arms around me. Luckily I had not been drinking and had swifter reflexes than him, so I was able to slide low to escape his circling embrace and get up and out of the room before he got off the couch. It was ridiculous. I had only just met him 15 minutes earlier.

So of course when I heard the allegations by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford I believed her, understanding how quickly these things can happen. And after watching her credible testimony and Brett Kavanaugh’s incredible tirade, it was clear to me how true her allegations were.

It also occurred to me that I already protested this guy. Kavanaugh was a senior in college while I was a freshman, so we were contemporaries though at different schools. Essentially, he was the partying privileged frat boy I was raising awareness about, pleading to the administration for real consequences for these young men’s actions. (I’m tired and don’t have time to protest things that should have been addressed years ago. Get me off this merry-go-round!)

But it doesn’t matter to Republicans. If it did, they would not have elected Trump, a self-admitted molester of women. Nor, if women and decency mattered to them, would they have shoved through Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing without a full investigation and despite his ludicrous behavior. Abuse against women is a mere side effect of being drunk with power, and they need power to advance their agenda, right? My Republican friends think they are adhering to core values, because they feel the end justifies the means. The problem is that there is no end. There is simply a continuing downward slide of morals and debasing departures from laws and norms that protect us and our democracy.

In my many years of voting, I have voted both Republican and Democratic in general elections depending on the character and service record of the candidates. I eagerly tune into the national conventions of both major parties, hopeful to be inspired and see the best of humanity emerge. On the national stage in recent years Republicans (not just Trump) have continued to disappoint and now seriously alarm me. What they tolerate  in pursuit of power is indeed, dare I say it, deplorable. I hope for party reform out of both parties, but right now mostly I hope we have checks on power.

The days of staying open-minded to both parties are over for the time being. We cannot equivocate and pretend there is parity between the parties. For this election, we need to understand that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. We simply cannot have all three arms of federal government, and 30+ state houses ruled by Republican majority. It is rotting our country’s moral core to be so out of balance. So for this election, voting Democratic is the patriotic thing to do to reset the dial and recover some checks and balances.

If you are Republican, relax, this does not mean that everything will turn Democratic overnight. Of the 14 heavily gerrymandered states, 12 states are gerrymandered in favor of Republicans, while only 2 of them are gerrymandered in favor of Democrats. Despite talk of a blue wave, it will be extremely difficult for Democrats to win in most places despite a hefty voter turnout. Democrats need to hope for a landslide of voter turnout in order to squeak a win.

But you can make a difference in making a small but important shift toward a balance in the force.

Vote. Encourage and empower at least two other people to vote. Do you have a friend who has moved and needs to request an absentee ballot? They need to act now, possibly by today or tomorrow, in order to request an absentee ballot, depending on locality. Call your friends today and remind them to register, request ballots, and vote!!! Also double-check your registration to make sure you have not been purged from the voter rolls.

Go to Vote.org. Also check out BallotReady.org to learn more about all candidates on your local ballots.

My young driver, Supreme Court, and a simple thought about abortion

The Supreme Court’s decisions last month were simply bad: allowing anti-abortion clinics to mislead women, upholding a truly rigged system of gerrymandering, ignoring unconstitutional racist context and motivation of Trump’s travel ban, and twisting the first amendment to harm workers in their ability to organize for collective bargaining. Added to that, we were shocked to learn that Justice Kennedy, a sometime swing voter, is retiring, leaving a vacancy for Trump to fill with a radical conservative.

So many bad decisions in such a short time reminds us of the fragility of our rights. Now more than ever we need to heed the ACLU and “vote like our rights depend in it” because they do! And as we come closer to losing a woman’s right to choose her own health outcomes, it seems like time to talk about it.

Here is a simple thought about abortion. Tell me I’m wrong:

My oldest son recently got his driver’s license! Despite long anticipation of this event (my very first blog considered this moment), he and I were not prepared for the question of whether or not he wanted to be an organ donor. He was hesitant, and who am I to tell him what to do on such a personal question? That is when it struck me…

Our society does not require people to donate parts of their dead body to save a life. It is optional, left to personal preference, religion or belief. Yet many would force a woman to compromise her living body and risk her health and possibly her life for the possibility of giving birth to life. We don’t require each other to donate blood even though that saves lives and has no negative health outcomes for us. We don’t even require people to save someone from dying right in front of us even though we could easily stop it. In Florida two teens were given a pass for filming a drowning man instead of lifting a finger to save him. Yet women endure a multitude of negative health outcomes when bringing a baby to term and giving birth.

While U.S. leadership is doing more to restrict women’s access to abortion, Ireland is in the process of ending its strict abortion ban, despite its Catholic majority. Now our U.S. Supreme Court is on the verge of being packed with staunch conservatives for decades to come. The confirmation of Neil Gorsuch (whose mother was a militant anti-abortionist under the Reagan administration) combined with Justice Kennedy’s impending vacancy while Republicans control the Senate bodes ill for preserving women’s rights.  While some states have laws protecting a woman’s right to choose (like Illinois who recently enacted legislation because of our proactive legislators and our active citizenry), if Roe v. Wade is overturned it will negatively impact women in 17 states.

Let’s be honest, pregnancy is a serious medical condition. Even in the modern world women still lose their lives due to pregnancy. On balance, it is safer for a woman’s life and long-term health to undergo an abortion procedure than to carry a baby to term.  Before you cringe at this statement, consider that our awareness of that is not causing abortion rates to increase, abortion rates are going down in the U.S. Indeed, women who intend to be moms (for the first time or many times over) still carry babies to term, bravely facing the wonderful and awful possibilities that await them.

Why are women held to a higher standard of care toward others than dead people are? Certainly our laws often impose a higher standard on people with a duty of care, like parents of a child. But while women’s organs get shifted and compromised, and some body functions get permanently affected, we don’t require a father to donate spare parts (like a kidney or portion of his lungs, liver, intestines, or pancreas) to save a daughter. We don’t even require police, who are sworn to “protect and defend“, to save anyone in particular unless perhaps when they created the hazardous situation for that person. Heck, we often don’t even discipline officers for injuring or killing people, but we will heckle and deride football players who kneel in support of life.  That’s pretty ironic. In fact, does anyone appreciate the vomit-inducing irony of having a president who has a history of molesting women, including having extramarital unprotected sex with women, and then has the gall to reduce women’s access to reproductive health care including abortions?

If you want to force women by law to bring a fetus to full term, then you must force all people to donate blood, and all parents to donate skin and body parts to their children, and all dead bodies to offer up their organs. While you are at it, you must punish sexually aggressive men (like our president) and give rapists a lifetime sentence (after all, being a mom is a lifetime commitment). You must create, and enforce by law, a culture that fully empowers women in controlling all sexual encounters, without power plays, abuse, and manipulation. If you want the laws of our government to govern so much of our personal lives, for the sake of life, then so be it.

If, instead, you feel that governmental laws should not invade your privacy nor dictate your personal  decisions, then defend a woman’s right to choose. Advocate to support Planned Parenthood.

My son opted out of the donor program at this time. And even though I know this program prevents deaths, collectively across America that could mean the equivalent of 22 jumbo jets crashing every year with no survivors, and even though my best friend died in her twenties while she was in need of an organ transplant, I support his sovereignty over his own body, his personal privacy from governmental inquiry requiring him to defend that intimate decision, and ultimately, I support his right to choose.

Saturday, June 30, Unite to Help Families Unite

MARCH: Please join together with like-minded people on Saturday, June 30, to support the unification of families torn apart at our border by cowardly US policy. Weaklings and bullies hurt vulnerable people, not real threats. Stand up in a show of strength and togetherness for what is right and good. Click here to find a march near you. I will be at a March out of town, but send me pics from your location!

BACKGROUND: Trump falsely blamed others for a crisis he manufactured by deciding to criminally prosecute asylum seekers at the border, which caused the issue with separating children from jailed parents. Public outrage from CEOs and former First Ladies, and people like us, changed his mind. He is now following Obama’s policy to only prosecute the tiny few who are actual criminals or who might harm their own children. But what about reuniting the families already affected? What about what happens when we all turn our backs on this administration for one second, or the administration distracts us with another manufactured crisis? Speak out now and seal the deal.

ADVOCACY: Write to your elected representatives seeking more compassion, and more permanent and humane policies with regard to immigrants, asylum seekers, and families.

 

Robo calls are Real Genius. But let’s vote for real people and a real deal

Biss-Wallace

Quick Reminders:  Vote March 20 in Illinois Primary. Go to the nonpartisan BallotReady.org to learn about candidates up and down the ballot and find your polling place. Write-in candidate Cameron “Cam” Davis for vacancy in the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Cook County who needs 8,075  write-in votes. Highly recommended by knowledge good people, so spread the word! Also, please consider Daniel Biss for Governor; high integrity, real lawmaking experience, clear vision for Illinois turnaround!

….Today, as I made calls to get out the vote for Daniel Biss, I was ready to have a real conversation with folks (and I had some), but mostly they were not answering their phones. People are busy, out and about, on Saturdays.  I left messages, which became fairly routine, and after a while I realized that a robocall would have saved my time. But those calls are expensive and less responsive to questions (though I have received auto-dials in the past that allow you to press 1 to reach a real person and ask questions, which is a nice compromise).

My favorite auto-response was Verizon ring time service which played cool music while I waited for the person to pick up his phone. We could really get this robo world figured out to our advantage. Remember Real Genius where the students audio taped the professor and eventually the professor had an audio tape giving the lecture? Hmmm. But we cannot lose our personal touch either.

I support Daniel Biss because he knows public policy IS personal.  And though I felt akin to the newspaper boys pulling wagons in Mr Smith Goes to Washington, being drowned out by big press beholden to the state’s power-brokers, I hope that the personal touch and tiny exchanges will add up to make a difference. After all, every vote counts, especially yours! Go make your voice heard and maybe somebody will listen to you!

 

Wow! Daniel Biss for Governor!

Daniel Biss just keeps growing, and so does his support base. He has a real chance of winning the Democratic primary and if he does, polls show he will beat Bruce Rauner. See the latest  gubernatorial debate on March 2, 2018.

Tonight Daniel Biss addressed questions from a crowded house full of people asking him about how to solve Illinois’ financial and economic woes, creating efficiencies in government, supporting teacher’s pensions, fixing our judicial system, prison reform, redistricting, and even how he intends to work with legislative heavy weight Mike Madigan. The depth and thoughtfulness of Daniel’s answers were fantastic and forthright.

Daniel is leading us into “what is possible”, not settling for what is business as usual in Illinois politics. The lasting impressions were that he is a leader who knows how government works. He listens and he learns. Not only has he contributed to many advancements already, he also admits to mistakes and grows because of them.

His leading democratic opponent seems to have peaked in support despite spending over $60 million in personal funding and blanketing the airwaves and stuffing mailboxes with ads. Meanwhile Biss keeps attracting more endorsements and followers.

This guy is for real. I saw him speak in a home setting almost a year ago, impressive then, but unstoppable now. He not only articulates a clear vision for solving our problems– by restructuring our tax base, school funding, and fiscal accountability–he also has the gall to suggest that we need to be a part of the solution, and I found myself leaning in!

This is the moment,  in this primary, that we get the candidates we deserve. We can simply elect someone better than Bruce Rauner, a low bar, or we can elect Daniel Biss, a leader who knows how to use the levers of government to restore our competitive edge, our integrity, and our faith in self-government.

Please join me in supporting Daniel Biss. Donate, Volunteer, Vote.