Last week’s Democratic Convention was an amazing experience. The people and energy in Charlotte were wonderful. Aside from the strange police-state security and some offensive protestors, my main impression after spending a week in community with a diverse group of Democrats was, “This is a country that I would like to live in.” Bringing together tens of thousands of people from around the country created a flash-mob instant community that made downtown Charlotte feel like a major metropolis. I wanted to share one action shot from the convention….here I am with my friend Elizabeth Cunningham getting settled in before the Emily’s List Town Hall meeting.
I have a few quick thoughts about the election, which ends in only 55 days! I say ENDS in 55 days instead of “takes place on November 6th” because early voting starts as soon as two weeks from tomorrow in the tossup state of Iowa.
• This is going to be a close election! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. President Obama’s supporters need to work even harder than they worked in 2008 to win him a second term.
• Women’s votes have never been more crucial. There is a huge gender gap and women favor President Obama. Every single vote is important. Even if everyone you know is voting one way–whether that means the same as you or different from you!–please get out and cast your ballot. In 2008 President Obama won the state of North Carolina by 14,000 votes, which my friend Diane Robertson calculated to represent 5 votes per precinct. We want a big enough margin of victory to make sure that we don’t get entangled in “hanging chads” and other ridiculous shenanigans that we saw in 2000, which ultimately gave Florida and the election to George W. Bush.
• Voter turnout is even more essential in light of unpatriotic voter suppression efforts going on in many states. The website www.GottaVote.org (created by the Obama campaign) can help people make sure they are registered and know how to vote.
Think about the people in your life who might face barriers to voting because they are first-time voters (college students for example), don’t have a government-issued photo ID which is newly required in some states, don’t have a car, or have moved recently. Can you help them make a plan to exercise their citizen’s right to vote? At the Democratic convention, I especially admired the speech given by Congressman John Lewis, civil rights pioneer, who made a powerful historic link to past civil right struggles and the current election. People struggled, suffered and died so that minorities and women have the right to vote. We can honor them best by exercising those rights.
• Vote early if you possibly can. I like the feeling of voting on Election Day, but I learned in 2008 that voting early is one of the best things you can do for your candidate. When you vote early, your vote is “in the bank” for your candidate. You know you’ve gotten it done–there’s no chance that a flat tire, sick child, or bad weather could derail your plans on Election Day. By voting early, you make the line just a little bit shorter on Election Day for someone else who is working on a tight schedule. You don’t want people to see a long line and leave in frustration. By voting early, you still have time to address and correct any issues that arise. And, when you vote early, you’ll cut down on all the phone calls you’d otherwise get to ask you to vote–that spares you extra phone calls and also saves money and time for organizations you support to reach out to help other voters.
I care so much about my state, and this is really a new thing for me, to absolutely love my state and never want to move. I moved a lot growing up, usually living in one place no more than four our five years. I attended five different schools by the time I was in 8th grade.
But now in North Carolina, we have put down strong and deep roots, both on a personal level, raising our daughter here for 12 years, and on a professional level. We’ve made a huge family investment by building the Manifold Recording studio in Pittsboro. It is a dream come true project for us, one that required five years of time and treasure to build. Now Michael and I are like Ray and Annie Kinsella in Field of Dreams, living out the “if you build it, they will come” aspect of the project. It is going very well. This is our home and we never want to leave.
BUT. But at the same time, our state is under fire from many directions. So in May and June I found myself investing a lot of time in statewide causes, particluarly the effort to stop fracking from being legalized in North Carolina. You can read my previous informational posts on fracking:
What you need to know about Fracking in 400 words or less
This spring, I started a Facebook page, Don’t Frack North Carolina — Citizens Say No to Fracking in NC, which really took off in May and June. The page has grown into a community of more than 4100 people who “like” it, and that adds up to a viral outreach of more than 1 million “friends of friends.” We sent many letters and made calls to the Governor and legislators to try to stop the pro-fracking bill. We had a brief victory when Governor Bev Perdue vetoed the bill. I am truly, truly grateful to the Governor for taking this courageous stand. But then the worst possible outcome came when the legislature voted to overturn the veto and it was overturned by ONE vote. As if that’s not bad enough, some Democrats voted to over-ride the veto, and two in particular stand out. Representative Becky Carney of Mecklenburg accidentally voted YES instead of NO and the Republicans would not let her correct the mistake. And Representative. Susi Hamilton of New Hanover county voted to overturn the veto under pressure that reportedly involved cutting a deal to get $60 million in film tax breaks for Wilmington. Now I love the film industry in North Carolina–but it should have nothing to do with whether fracking is allowed! Democrats were furious after seeing Hamilton give a fellow legislator a “high-five” after the film tax breaks passed. She really sold out the environment in the whole state in a case of brazen political dealing. I hope she realizes that her district is directly down stream from the frack target zone. Environmental problems from fracking will flow right into the Cape Fear River in HER back yard. Hamilton was supposed to be an environmentalist. The League of Conservation Voters had just given her a “rising star” award in June, which they swiftly revoked after Hamilton’s vote in favor of opening our state to fracking.
To say I feel demoralized right now is an understatement. I am very discouraged, but not giving up. My natural optimism has taken a blow. I no longer feel that things will naturally get better, that worst case scenarios will inevitably be avoided, that our leaders will be wise and ultimately do the right thing. I am probably more realistic–this will be a hard fight and a long road to travel. I miss my can-do, “Mojo Mom” optimism as applied to protecting my home state. It fueled me. But now I am faced with a grittier, flintier reality. The Democrats are in deep trouble. The Republicans are on an ALEC-fueled tear. I am in the process of trying to figure out how I can make the biggest contribution I can with my time, talents and energy. I will be working hard to re-elect President Obama and devoting serious time to several of my statewide causes.
At the same time, it’s time to get back to my own work. I have good things developing over at www.DoingRightByOurKids.com that I will be sharing here. As I told my co-creator Irene van der Zande last time we talked, politics is very frustrating because you can work hard and lose, or see progress go backward. When you teach people about protecting child safety, giving them a solid framework, excellent information, and tools for respectful relationship building, you are making progress that will move forward to create better communities. So that is the kind of work I need to be doing in balance with my political activities. Onward…..
[correction, July 10: an earlier version of this post mixed up the words "overturned" and "sustained" in regards to Governor Perdue's veto. This updated version correctly states that Democrats Becky Carney and Susi Hamilton voted to over-ride the Governor's veto.]
This week on The Mojo Mom Podcast I get to talk with PunditMom herself, Joanne Bamberger. Joanne raises a political voice for mothers through several platforms across the blogosphere, on outlets including her own PunditMom blog, with her Mothers of Intention feature, MOMocrats, blog talk radio, and BlogHer. Joanne was also selected to be a member of the inaugural class of the Progressive Women’s Voices program offered by the Women’s Media Center.
And, I am very proud that Joanne has joined my latest project, as one of our team of Courageous Parents, Confident Kids anthology contributors.
So I hope you’ll listen in to this week’s Mojo Mom Podcast, which is part book discussion; and then gets into our personal opinions and a bit of group therapy for (currently) discouraged Democrats trying to get our mojo back.
Listen to the podcast now:
Amy Tiemann continues her series of interviews with “Courageous Parents, Confident Kids” anthology contributors, this week by talking politics with Joanne Bamberger, creator of PunditMom blog.
In Joanne’s book chapter, she talks about what it means for parents to connect with their political voices, and proclaim their opinions, often using blogs as an outlet. Here Joanne and Amy get right into it, sharing their own opinions about their frustrations with the Democratic Party, politics, and the seeming inability to get anything done, even when one party has the Presidency and majorities in the House and Senate.
Hear what’s on Amy and Joanne’s minds, and then feel free post a comment here to let us know what is on yours!