Heather L. Barmore
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Heather Barmore
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    Change In Action at Babble Voices

    Wednesday
    Nov102010

    The Days After

    "Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right."  ~H.L. Mencken

    In 2004 I was the executive assistant to one of the Deputy Campaign Managers of Kerry/Edwards. You remember Kerry/Edwards don’t you? Vaguely? Kerry was the guy who went water skiing in Nantucket which is the best way to shore up Democratic base votes. Edwards was the guy who...well...at the time he was charming and attractive and The Next Big Thing in politics. Now he’s divorced with a three year old. Regardless, in 2004 they lost. It felt like a swift punch to the gut that night. There was the inevitable anger after spending months of my life invested in this campaign only to see it end thanks to the mercurial nature of the American electorate. The day after, I walked around Farragut North and went grocery shopping for the first time in months. I remember looking at people as they perused the aisles of Trader Joe’s and shushed babies; everything was so normal. Alarmingly so. Did these people not realize what had occurred the evening before? There was exasperation in the voice in my head because why didn’t they look concerned that our only saving grace from the Bush administration had lost? They were just going on about their business as if nothing had happened and everything inside of me demanded answers as to how they could just go along without analyzing every single fuck up of the previous year.

    I’m shaking my head while writing this because at 21 naivete was my strong suit. Adorable little Heather full of hope and joy and demanding to know why people do the things they do and why they don’t spend hours camped out in front of CNN playing Monday morning quarterback with every election. Probably because people have lives. Crazy, right?

    There was no Monday morning QBing going on last Wednesday. Did I feel let down and devastated on Tuesday night? Yes. I felt like the wind had been sucked out of my sails. But on Wednesday I didn’t contemplate where something went wrong. In fact, Wednesday morning I slept until 10:30 and then went about my day. But how exactly does one who is so deeply ensconced in the political process go from being outraged by an election one year to being all “Yeah, that sucked. Ah well” six years later? Easily. Age helps. As does the realization that elections in a democracy are by definition the opportunity for citizens to express their displeasure in the direction of the country. If people are not happy then it is their right to voice their concern with the leadership. Period.

    Could things have gone better? God, yes. But I have been looking at it this way: We live in the land of convenience and fickle behavior. We also live in a place with generous return policies. We’re people who return a shirt because it doesn’t make our boobs look great or return the Ahi Tuna entree because it isn’t as rare as we would like for it to be. If we are unhappy then we have more than ample opportunity to get our money back or complain and like that, we are satisfied. Members of the 111th congress had the opportunities to fix things and they didn’t fix things fast enough for some people’s liking. (Well that on top of having an administration who didn’t adequately express what they had accomplished. But I digress). So they were returned to their hometowns to make room for a Republican congress who would get shit done and do so better and faster. That’s as simply as I can state what happened on November 2nd without over-analyzing each and every decision. People were unhappy so they took it upon themselves to change things.

    We are particular people. We like things how we like them and as quickly as possible. We are impatient. We tap our feet while in line and we are the first to express our displeasure in most every situation. The Democrats didn’t deliver in a timely fashion. So the response was “Fine. We’ll find someone who will.” Do I personally find that to be the most rational way to approach running a country? No. Do I think that come January 30th everything will be all better with puppies and roses? Hell no. So I’ll just sit back and let them try.
    Tuesday
    Nov022010

    Why we don't vote*

    *this post was meant to be elsewhere but now it's not. It's a long-ish rambling post about why women don't vote. Tomorrow I'll be telling you why I do and always will vote. Happy Election Day.

    “People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people.  Of course, that is not true.  Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing.” - Walter H. Judd

    There is something to be said for writing a piece on the apathy of young women voters mere hours after a rally for a congressional candidate (featuring Mr. William Jefferson Clinton) where I whooped and hollered and cared just like all of the men folk did. Crazy, right? But it is what the pundits are saying these days; young women are not interested in this election. Better yet, young people as a whole, are disinterested as are minorities which makes me a political anomaly. An anomaly who plans to be up at 6 AM, when the polls open on Election Day, so that I can get in some canvassing later in the morning.

    CNN recently asked “What is pushing women away from voting?” My response (to my laptop screen) was, “Do you want like, a list? And how much time do you have?” Because in the time it took me to get to the bottom of the page I could think of at least five reasons:

    1) Politicians aren’t engaging women voters.
    2) Women don’t feel that candidates are speaking to their issues.
    3) The fighting. Oh my God, the fighting. See also; unnecessary violence.
    4) Women don’t feel connected to the candidates. Even the female ones.
    5) Too much information being thrown out there; it’s hard to sift through and find out the truth and what is really going on.

    I hate to say but I think that the pundits are correct. We ARE apathetic. We are apathetic because we don’t feel connect. I’m guessing here but as a (young, black) woman, I can definitely see why my peers feel that what will happen on Election Day will affect them. With a 24/7 news cycle you would think that the stakes of this election would be more apparent but you would be wrong. Instead of informing viewers on what is at stake not just for young women but for the entire country, we are bombarded with the incident du jour. Instead of factual pieces we get the analysis of YouTube videos showing the extreme cases of what this election has wrought on this country and it isn’t pretty. On the evening news bad behavior and scandal is given precedence over the work that women candidates are doing not just for themselves but for all of us. Krystal Ball is giving a face to the adversities that young women face when running for congress and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is giving a face to how we can be wives and mothers and elected officials.

    For the candidates: We young women are pretty savvy. I cannot believe I have to remind people of this but it’s true. We like to talk with you, not be talked at. When given the facts instead of facade we’re pretty good at forming our own opinions. No, we aren’t a monolith and shouldn’t be treated as such but when it comes down to it, being a woman unites us more than it tears us apart. We are inquisitive and like to be informed voters but so many of us feel uninformed and disengaged. It seems as if our opinions and needs are only required towards the end of this monumental election. Only in recent weeks have candidates come out to do events focused on women as if they’ve suddenly noticed that we are a large part of the electorate. We are not a ‘Hail Mary’ pass but we are people that would like to be engaged 12 months of the year. That, THAT, is why we are unenthusiastic. Speak to us. You’ll be amazed at how much you might learn.

    And for the women: Not voting isn’t the answer. Not voting just says that you don’t care about our futures and where we are headed as a country. It’s not about who you vote for or the R or D next to their name. It’s about putting your proverbial hat in the ring and making your voice - our voices - heard. So my request of you is fairly simple: Vote. It’s easy. You might get a sticker. One of my favorite quotes reads, “People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people.  Of course, that is not true.  Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing.” Your mission is to prove the pundits wrong and make yourself heard.
    Sunday
    Oct312010

    2 Days

    "There are too many people, and too few human beings."  ~Robert Zend

    I have hit my saturation point. Then again, I think it’s safe to assume that the next time that a canvasser knocks on your door during dinner requesting that you vote for Candidate X, you might skip on the politeness and head straight towards flipping the bird. We’re all pretty much done.

    My realization of just how annoyed I really am with EVERYONE and EVERYTHING was a few weeks ago when  a Tea Partier made a comment on Twitter and my first reaction is to flinch and go on the offensive. For how dare someone make claims against all Progressives as if Progressives should be treated as a cohort. As if we’re not individuals with our own thoughts on the (tragic) state of the country but of course not to a Tea Partier because all of us with a voter registration card with a D on it are exactly the same. Exclamation point!!11!

    Now imagine that last sentence being said in one breath with a dash of hysteria for good measure.

    We all get a little bit crazy at times. Especially when after six months of non-stop, in yo’ face campaigning. Campaigning complete with the occasional death threat among accusations of fascism with a little bigotry on the side. The First Amendment has never proved so necessary as it has during this election.

    I work in politics and it has something that I have always been passionate about. I always have to encourage friends of mine to vote and pay attention because this shit is important but they’re so disinterested because God forbid there is a difference of opinion, as your brains might be all over the sidewalk courtesy of an overzealous volunteer. Clearly these are the extreme cases but it’s the extreme cases that get the most attention hence the apathy. Its really difficult to get involved when someone is threatening to kill your children if you vote for Sharon Angle.

    So yeah. Tuesday is almost here. I’m not looking forward to the outcome but I am looking forward to a little breather from the bullshit. And if that doesn’t happen there’s always Canada. Or maybe Guam. Am I right or am I right?