I’ve never been 100% committed to my political party. In fact, I’ve never belonged to one political party for a long time.
When I was younger, and after being raised by a Democrat, I naturally voted for Al Gore over George Bush. While attending ISU, I wrote papers that clearly showed I was a Democrat (getting high grades and handwritten notes from my professors about how much they liked my opinion). As I got older, started raising children, paying taxes and eventually became a business owner, I realized I was more of a Libertarian-leaning Republican.
While co-hosting a local Fox News talk radio show with a Libertarian, I dabbled in Libertarian politics. My co-host and many of the callers were very hardcore in their beliefs. They were so “live and let live” they didn’t believe in speed limits, seat belt laws, banning people from smoking cigarettes at public parks near children despite the proven health risks, or a government organization that shut down a family-owned “business” that was making cheese out of a bathtub and getting people sick. True story. They believed the free market would sort that out.
At one point, I argued with a caller who didn’t believe in putting his young grandchildren in car seats. “If you can’t even protect the most innocent and defenseless in our society, especially your own family, you and I must agree on very little and there is no point in having further conversation,” I told him. As my co-host argued why he stood by the “Don’t Tread On Me” flag (which I agreed I had never been introduced to before that time as I lived most of my early life studying only local politics which certainly didn’t include that), I argued the American flag represented all of those things and more, and needed no replacement. Not that I have anything against the flag or people having one, but they did have an issue with the American flag, the Pledge of Allegiance and what they called “indoctrination of Americanism and American pride.” But the final reason I switched from the Libertarian Party was because of how many didn’t believe in freedom of religion. I couldn’t have a discussion outside of Utah with a Libertarian without being screamed at for being Mormon.
And that brought me to the Republican Party, while still mostly believing in the free market and limited government interference. When I went back to college last year to continue working toward my degree after many years away to raise kids and focus on my career, my papers in my government class had a more conservative feel to them. OK, they were downright conservative. I would get an A on everything BUT those by the same professor and then I would be dropped to a C when asked to write an opinion that clearly showed I was more conservative than progressive.
I own guns. I believe babies have their own DNA. I don’t believe a woman should abort a child just because the baby is in her body. But as a longtime journalist, I have no problem covering all of these issues without interjecting my own thoughts or feelings into it (except when it comes to crime stories about child molesters – may all pedophiles rot in prison for life). But even I can do a non-biased story about the consideration of legislation that requires mandatory sentencing for child molesters. What I can’t do, is sit by any longer feeling like I have the ability to make this country better. And that brought me to the She Should Run Incubator.
She Should Run is a non-partisan organization that advocates for women of all parties to run for office. Women make up more than 50% of our population and are a striking number in our overall workforce and do the majority of raising the future generation, yet hold very few positions in office that make decisions for the people and families (i.e. Congress). While the site and Facebook page have a Democratic feel to them, it also feels like they’re trying very hard to be inclusive. I just think it might be that more Democratic women are now getting involved in politics than women who would lean Republican. I suspect that is out of passion to change things, and anger from the 2016 race. (I would remind Republican women not everything went their way in 2016 and if they want to continue the momentum, now is NOT the time to sit on the sidelines feeling like you’ve won. Those who are upset are more motivated than ever to cause some major upset in 2018.)
Women bring unique things to the table and their voices need to be heard. They have different life experiences and they can bring that to much-needed legislation that will help our country, especially if they band together regardless of political affiliation.
In 2010, after watching too many good print publications go under, I founded and ran an online newspaper. At the same time, I started a weekly meeting for local women entrepreneurs in my community in southern Utah, and another monthly co-ed meeting. The owner of an independent weekly print publication, a male, was outraged I would leave men out of the female-only meeting. In truth, I think this man was offended by anything and everything I did (as evidenced by the emails he sent me), as were other newspaper publishers. I mean, how dare a female start up her own competing newspaper – and without a print edition! If we’re keeping score, go see where St. George News is today. I think I won! But back to the meetings. To me, having this outlet to discuss issues that only women face in the workforce was needed in order to discuss how to overcome and succeed. Even in President Obama’s White House, a Democrat, women weren’t being listened to and didn’t hold top posts. So they worked together to change that. Two weeks ago, I was reading an article by a former White House correspondent who said the Obama Administration had refused to provide an area for nursing moms because “there were no nursing mothers working for the Administration.” Another journalist fought on behalf of all women to make that happen.
In today’s She Should Run email, I was reading about Olympian Jessica Mendoza.
“A lot of the trolling and the anger that comes in response to women working in sports is coming from a place of intimidation. I had Jessica Mendoza on my podcast. She was the first woman to call an MLB playoff game. She was a hall of famer at Stanford, an Olympian; she also was premed. She graduated from Stanford in three years and got her masters in her fourth year, while playing for the softball team and training for the Olympics. But somebody who watches sports on TV has decided for himself that she’s just a pretty face who plays softball and she’s getting more attention than she deserves.” Women in all fields, from sports to politics, face sexism, misogyny, and harassment every day, and it’s unacceptable. Stand up for other women and shine a light on sexism wherever you see it using #NameItChangeIt and #FliptheScript.
And what really caught my attention in the email was this: What became increasingly clear to me is that more and more, especially young women are less likely to identify with traditional party structures. I think there was a trend of women who didn’t feel like they could identify with the messages that were out there or any resources encouraging them to run for office. The reality is that we need women in offices and to be represented at all levels of government. And in order to get there, we really needed to think about the overall messaging and the culture encouraging women to run.
For the last couple of years, the idea of running for office someday has rattled around, becoming stronger as time goes on. I’m not ready and I know it. There is still journalism left inside of me and I can’t keep quiet the voice in my head screaming at me that I need to return to journalism NOW. But I think what would have held me back from running in the future are two things: 1: Can I overcome my own personal story of abuse and pain without letting others use it against me? (How sad is it that survivors of sexual abuse and rape worry about how they’ll be judged by the public for what was done to them and the poor decisions they made afterward because of it rather than focusing on the story of triumph of coming so far despite what happened to them?) and 2: What political part do I truly belong to?
In the last election cycle, I took a very good quiz that in the end showed where I identify with Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians. That was when I realized what I probably already knew: I care more about our country and standing up for children than I do about belonging to a group. I believe in being fiscally responsible and removing government intervention where not needed, I believe in a strong military and I believe in helping the poor and underprivileged without creating dependence. The truth is, I scored most with the Republican Party but had high enough scores with Democrats and Libertarians the journalist in me was proud.
What I would very much like to see, and I would like to be covering as a journalist, is more women running for office regardless of what party they belong to. I’d like to see more legislation that affects families (in a good way) because we’re changing the conversation. I’d like to see lawmakers care as much about societal issues as moms do. And that will only happen when moms decide to get involved. That doesn’t always have to mean running for Congress. Maybe it means a career drafting legislation or like my current job, working for a member of Congress, but I’d really like to see more Congresswomen on Capitol Hill. It could also be getting involved locally.
In October, my third grader was given an assignment my husband and I felt was completely inappropriate for anyone younger than high school age. Despite initially telling the TV station I was the only parent upset about it (see below), my willingness to fight this battle brought other parents forward.
At 5:30:An AACO mom is upset that her 8 y/o son learned a/b the election’s divisive issues with a class survey on his political viewpoints. pic.twitter.com/hMoeh19w6s
— Adam Yosim (@Adam_Yosim) November 4, 2016
Within a week, I met with the principal who agreed the assignment was wholly inappropriate for the age group and the entire assignment was removed from all classes at all grade levels at the school. That would not have happened if I hadn’t been willing to take it as far as I did. But it makes me wonder why the school board and district approved this assignment in the first place and what board positions need to be shaken up a little bit so that our children are put first.
I think we as women and moms have a tendency to focus on what we think we can control and that means the things in our own house. But there are so many things happening outside our home that do come into our home and change our families, and we can change those outside influences by getting involved.
So what do you say? Are you ready to make a difference?