The Princess and the Poll

According Gallup polling available exclusively to The Daily Beast, Democrats are “losing support among white women” as the upcoming November mid-term elections approach. In her article, Linda Hirshman points out that “it’s the independent women (21 percent!) and the Democratic women (24 percent) who aren’t revved up about the coming midterms.”

Well, color me Christine O’Donnell. Perhaps the reason independent and Democratic women aren’t "revved" up is because they actually have something known as “brains” in between their ears. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist -- or for that matter, a recent college graduate who can’t find a job -- to take a look around and see that while Sarah Palin’s daughter does the cha-cha and enchants the hearts of millions, Sarah Palin’s tea party is busy imprinting the minds of the remainder. And with the most prominent, popular female “leaders” splashed on TV in the neverending news cycle being Palin and O’Donnell, who in their right mind would be revved up by them?

That’s not to say there aren’t smart women left to engage. As a woman who follows progressive politics in a conservative state, I can’t help but feel outnumbered. For each smart, intelligent, politically involved woman I come across on a daily basis -- and there are many -- there are at least two smart, intelligent women who have absolutely no intention of participating in politics, let alone voting. Occasionally I make the mistake of trying to have a conversation with them about why that is. Some choose that path because they're too busy trying to scrape by and don't see how government directly influences their lives. Others see the political process as intimidating and confusing or, worse yet, broken. A recent Women’s Monitor poll done for EMILY’s List, a national group that supports progressive female candidates, found that sixty-nine percent of women voters would be more interested in voting “if they knew their vote would send a message to Washington that it’s time to get things done for everyday people and stop posturing and serving the special interests.”

Whatever their reasoning, it has less to do with disagreeing with an amendment some Congressman stuck in a bill and more to do with the perception that the bill doesn’t matter anyway. Oh, and that American Idol comes on at 7 and they still have to go for jog and pick up sushi to-go. The political apathy that my generation feels -- made worse by “Dear Liza, Dear Liza” refrain of “Then fix it, Obama” -- is easily blamed on the Woodstock-turned-Wall Street generation allowing the system to become corrupt or that it’s easier to tweet about a revolution than it is to lead one. But, really, it’s too late to even point fingers. After all, money never sleeps and now, thanks to our inability to give a shit or wake up before 10 am or make meaningful contributions to something other than bars and IKEA, it picks our elected officials.

I use the term “our” loosely because, obviously, there are all colors and creeds of women out there doing great things and just as many young white men as there are women in my circles who could care less about anything other than Halo and college football. But until the uninvolved “white women” start to feel as passionately about, say, protecting their reproductive rights as the puritans who agree with Christine O’Donnell’s Stepforidan ideals, they’re not going to come out to the polls.

So what will it take?  Well, here’s what keeps me up at night -- maybe it’ll give you nightmares, too: You never really know how much someone's willing to fight for something until it gets taken away from them.  Put that under your pillow and sleep on it.

6 Response to "The Princess and the Poll"

  • Anonymous Says:

    I don't think there is such a person as a woman who cares about halo, college football, and politics... in Texas.

    Otherwise, I've been hanging out in the wrong circles.

  • Felicia Adams Says:

    I have always voted. I have always given to the Dem party even when I was a poor student. I only recently felt national politics affect my personal life directly. This is with Health Care Reform. Because of what our officials did, my family is able to still have health insurance. This fact alone will keep me voting and donating. I think I was just raised that voting was not an option -- it is simply what you DO. You get involved, you protest when things aren't right, you VOTE. I don't know how to move more younger women to vote, but I'd be willing to work on that cause.

  • Mean Rachel Says:

    @Anon: That's probably a bit of a white whale.

    @Felicia: Thanks for the comment AND for all you do. Now if there could just be more of you!!

  • @showlush Says:

    Like Felicia, I was raised to believe voting was not just our privilege but our duty. Since the only way to cast a vote in good conscience is to do so from an informed perspective, I believe that is also our duty. If we can make time for football games, drinks with friends, live music, silly television shows and all manner of other things that make our lives enjoyable on a day-to-day basis, we can certainly make time to educate ourselves on the issues, form an opinion and vote accordingly. It’s really not that complicated; it’s quite simply the right thing to do. I’ve raised my daughter to believe this, too. Despite all that we might disagree on right now, I have no doubt that a mere four years from now she’ll join the ranks of first time voters who become lifelong participants in the democratic process.

    If she doesn’t, I’ll kick her butt.

  • Mean Rachel Says:

    @showlush: You reminded me of a funny story about the first time I went to vote with my mom with whom, ahem, I did not always agree from age 13 to about 21. It was for the 2002 midterms, since I was too young by a few months to vote in 2000. Of course I was there to pull the lever for Tony Sanchez, who my mom told me would lose anyway and apologized that I was voting for the first time for such a sad sack.

    We lived in Rollingwood at the time, the bastion of nouveau riche Republican voters. We went down to the Rollingwood City Hall and stood in line behind five or six portly middle-aged men wearing cowboy boots, slacks and button downs. They turned around and of course started making small talk with me and my mom, at which point she announced it was my first time to vote. They slapped me on the back and said "Ready to vote for our Governor Perry?" and my mom loudly proclaimed that No, I would not be voting for any such Republican! I was part of a long line of yellow dog Democrats! I remember being mortified in front of all those good ol' boys and so infuriated at my mom that I nearly voted Republican just to spite her.


    Thanks for the unexpected trip down memory lane!

  • Anonymous Says: