The 2016 presidential election is one great big mess. Americans have the choice to vote for one of the two least popular candidates in modern history. Not good.
I have spoken with many women how have said that they just aren’t going to vote. I always respond “But you have to!”
According to exit polls, 53 percent of people who voted in the 2012 election were women. In most states there are more women than men registered to vote and there is a much higher turnout rate for women at the polls.
These numbers mean power. And it’s time for women to wield that power.
#1 – To honor the women who came before.
The battle for a woman’s right to vote started in the early 1800s with Susan B. Anthony and Lucretia Mott, among others, working hard to establish women’s equality with men.
For almost 100 years women fought for that equality, part of which was the right to vote. They were humiliated and discriminated against, the subject of derision and sometimes violence for their efforts. They didn’t give up. Even when they were imprisoned and forced to hunger strike these women fought on.
It wasn’t until 1920 that the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote, was passed by the US government. Even so, many states didn’t ratify the amendment for years. Mississippi didn’t do so until 1984, 60 years later and only 32 years ago.
32 years ago women in Mississippi could not vote.
Don’t take the right to vote for granted. It was hard fought for and we women need to exercise our right proudly.
#2 – To honor the women we are now.
There is much being said these days about the persistent lack of equality for women in the world. Women make less money on the dollar than men in the workplace. Women who are ambitious are labeled “bitches.” Women are discriminated against for getting pregnant or for having to take care of children. Women are subjected to emotional and physical abuse at the hands of bosses and husbands.
It is time for this to end. And it will only end if we women take a stand.
In her book, Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg talks about how women are held back but also how we hold ourselves back. She makes the argument that women need to advocate more for themselves, to believe themselves equal to men, to not allow discrimination to hold them back from anything
She says that it is up to us to change our stars. No one else will do it for us.
Voting is one way for us to do this, to “Lean In.” We have the right to vote. We have the right to have a say in the politics of our nation. We have the right to use our voices, the voices we often only whisper with, to bring about real change.
#3 – Because every vote counts.
I know it doesn’t seem that way. Presidents have been elected in spite of the fact that they didn’t win the popular vote. But your vote matters, particularly in your home state.
Each state has a different number of electoral votes and that number is based on the total of all of it’s representatives in Congress, both in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. A candidate needs 270 of those electoral votes to win the presidency.
In most states for a candidate to win that state, and it’s corresponding electoral votes, he or she must receive the majority of it’s popular vote. This is where your vote counts. Your vote will contribute towards a candidate winning, or losing, a state which will in turn determine the outcome of the presidential campaign.
If you don’t cast your vote your candidate could lose your state and, maybe, ultimately, the presidency.
#4 – Because important women’s issues are now at stake.
Right now, more than ever, there are important women’s issues at stake and the next president could have a huge hand in which direction those women’s issues go.
At issue right now is:
*A woman’s right to access Planned Parenthood
*Paid family leave
*Minimum wage increases
*Debt free education
The outcome of all of these issues will have a huge impact on our lives and the lives of our daughters and granddaughters. We can’t just sit back and think that “everyone else” will take care of this. We need to exercise our right to make a real difference. By voting.
#5 – To set a good example for our children.
I remember in 1976 my mother taking me with her to vote. It was the year that Jimmy Carter was running against Gerald Ford. This was not a campaign that had electrified the nation.
I remember driving to the voting booth and my mother telling me about my great-grandmother (and namesake) who fought for the right to vote and how her lawyer husband fought alongside her (and got her out of jail when she was imprisoned). She impressed upon me the importance of voting out of respect for our grandmothers and those who fought alongside them.
I went into the voting booth with her and watched her cast her vote. And we got “I VOTED” stickers afterwards, which was huge.
Our children increasingly take the right to vote for granted and they are increasingly disillusioned by modern politics. It is important for us to teach them, to demonstrate for them, how important this fundamental American right is.
And how by doing so they can make a real difference in the world.
Every American has the right to vote and that right shouldn’t be ignored or dismissed or taken for granted. Without it our country would be a different place.
And we women, we have the power to change things. In so many ways. Voting is one of them. So get out and vote this year.
Let’s change the world!
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I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.