Claudette Konola
VOICE OF A PROGRESSIVE
Grand Junction Free Press Opinion Columnist

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February 24, 2012
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KONOLA: The women are watching

I don't know if there is a suicide hotline for political parties, but there should be. It looks as though one party is intent on committing political suicide.

Everybody hates the gridlock in Washington, where ideology trumps common-sense solutions to problems facing everyday people. But imagine if there was no opposition to the ideas of one party. Do we really want to live in an America where only one voice is heard? That doesn't sound like democracy to me; it sounds like a Third World dictatorship.

The Republican Party has been on a path of political suicide this election season. Their candidates have pushed the party so far to the right that they are about to fall off a cliff. The fastest growing segment of the political demographic is the independent voter. I have a theory to explain the phenomena. Reader, be warned, no scientific research has verified my theory. Nevertheless, I'm going to postulate about the reasons for the growing numbers of voters unwilling to be associated with either of the two major political parties or any of the several minor political parties.

The theory has three main hypotheses: young people don't like labels and generally don't vote, so registering as a member of a political party is a foreign concept. Members of the Tea Party left the Republican Party because it no longer represented their views, which include responsiveness to citizens, instead of fealty to stacks of money placed into the political arena by lobbyists.

At the other end of the political spectrum, liberals who see Democrats in Congress failing to fight for true liberal principles are telling the party to stop taking them for granted. Whether my theory is right is beside the point. Winning elections depends on attracting the votes of independent voters.

Winning elections also depends on attracting both men and women into the voting booth on behalf of the party's candidates. In Mesa County, which enjoys higher than national average turnout in its elections, more women are registered to vote than men. Women also vote more frequently. About 53% of local voters are women, while about 47% are men. As a percentage of registered voters in each demographic who actually vote, the percentage of women voting exceeds the male percentage by about 1.5%. The numbers tell me that you just shouldn't mess with women if you want to win elections.

Election 2012 finds Republicans messing with women in both proposed legislation and candidate's stump speeches. The result is that women are more energized than they have been since the bra-burning days of the 1960s. The women of my mother's era allowed men to tell them what to do, even in the voting booth. The young women today expect to think for themselves and make their own decisions. Women as a whole have been trending toward more independence, and aren't willing to give it up. We've come a long way, baby.

When the foes of abortion revealed that they are also against contraception and amniocentesis, they stepped over the line. When legislators in Virginia worked to make an invasive form of ultrasound mandatory, they stepped over the line. Forcing a woman to have a probe inserted into her vagina, without her consent and without any medical reason, is tantamount to rape. Plenty of women in Virginia don't want legal rape. They have been lining up along the sidewalk leading to Virginia's capital to let state legislators know that they are watching and they vote.

Much of this discussion about women's health has been framed by Republican men as protecting the religious freedom of employers. They even convened an all-male panel to prove that religious men don't want to pay for contraception for their employees. By protecting the religious freedom of male employers, they are trampling all over the religious freedom of female employees. Women have been fighting for the right to have contraception covered in their health insurance for decades. Now that it is required, by law, in Colorado and the U.S., women aren't going to shut up and do the bidding of religious extremists. We won the right to vote and we demand the right to coverage for our health needs.

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Claudette Konola is delighted to see women actively organizing and fighting to keep government small and out of our bedrooms. She blogs at www.konola4colorado.com and can be reached at Konola@Bresnan.net.


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The Post Independent Updated Feb 24, 2012 07:20PM Published Feb 24, 2012 07:19PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.