When I have been on face book lately I have noticed an opportunity to add my support for "Emily's List". According to their website their mission is "dedicated to electing Democratic pro-choice women to office". I had the great fortune of attending one of their trainings when I was running for office in 2006, it was invaluable. Although the organization gave me no monetary support, (they do not give money to anyone lower than in state races) I was thoroughly energized and I know it contributed an edge to my win. I was working for Planned Parenthood at the time and it seemed like a natural fit. Now that I have been an elected official for almost four years their mission has me questioning a few things.
Why not support any candidate that is pro-choice, why only Democrats and why only women? I do agree that we need more women in public office, but tying these two things together is a limiting alliance.
Should I choose to run for office again, I would no longer qualify for help from Emily's List, monetarily or otherwise---I haven't lost any of my passion for choice, and last time I checked I was still a female, but I have lost my passion for being partisan. I see this as a perfect example of how the parties hold the issue hostage and box the electorate into corners.
This "false ownership" is one of the very reasons I am working for political reform via changing our current two-party system. To put it simply: Democrats do not own choice, the people do. This important issue as well as many other "wedge" issues belong to the people---whether they are black, white, male, female, Republican, Libertarian or otherwise and the parties manipulate that fact to the hilt--and we allow them to continue to do so.
If we as a people are really serious about the issues and what they mean to us, we should take them back from the parties.
It makes me crazy to think that the major political parties use choice to further their own power and leave the issue to be fought over like some scrap of meat thrown to starving animals who are already in somewhat of a frenzy. It is used to spark many petty partisan spats as well as force many voters to choose one side or another, often at the sacrifice of other important issues--that's a wedge, to oversimplify.
A famous tack of the Democrats is to target pro-choice Republican candidates, not an easy position to take on their part, in light of the stereotypical and conflicted Republican stance on this issue. What happens is that the Democrats turn this issue around and actually sponsor media sent to registered Republicans in an effort to turn them on their own candidate. Yes, that's right the party of "choice" actually uses it against anyone with the courage to cross a line--and join them in support of this important issue, but once they cross that line, it is tantamount to a slap in the face and a swift kick back to the other side, all the while saying "thanks, but no thanks" for being pro-choice.
Its a sad day in our democracy when we allow political parties to operate like this and allow the issues to be pulled back and forth in a tug of war between two sides that will never ultimately win the game. It penalizes candidates that don't fit into the nice "party box" and ironically, this out of the box type-leader is what we need more of.
We must take the issues back, evolve in our candidate selection and the leaders we choose. We need to call-out these shameful acts of perverse power that in the end may serve only to further the position of one party or another and damage the progress we could ultimately make on the issues. Until we do this, we will continue to struggle in the same way, playing the same worn-out games that in the end leave us all on the loosing side of the equation in an ever increasing frustration.
Emily's List has raised over $78,595,737 since 1985 and we have made some amazing strides in the arena of choice, but we are always teetering on the edge according to which party is in power. I just wonder how much further we would have gotten on this issue and many others if we didn't choose to limit the champions by their sex and most importantly their political party?