Why A Vote For Clinton Isn’t Necessarily A Vote For Feminism

girl-voting-i-votedIn this 2016 Presidential Primary Season, there are obviously a ton of jokes going around – Kanye for President, Deez Nuts for President, Donald Trump for President (awk when not everyone thinks this is a joke)… And all of these jokes do a pretty good job of making me laugh.

You know what joke doesn’t make me laugh? The joke of women’s issues being taken seriously. Honestly, I’m sick of the fact that the most we talk about women’s rights – you know, the rights of approximately 50 percent of the voter population – is when a male candidate makes some unfortunate and probably offensive gaffe. We should be better than that, America. We should be discussing more than Donald Trump making insensitive period remarks and bringing to the forefront some of the more prominent women’s issues.

And one of the biggest issues I can think of right now is the fact that someone thinks they can tell you that you don’t support women’s rights if you don’t want to vote for Hillary Clinton or Carly Fiorina. Let me repeat that:

A vote for Hillary Clinton or Carly Fiorina isn’t necessarily a vote for feminism (but it could be).

One of the coolest parts of America’s democracy is that we as voters are empowered to pick whoever we want. There are no tests, no requirements, no bare minimum knowledge about the issues that you need to demonstrate – you simply need to be eighteen and you can sign up. Which is why I’m thinking it’s so f*cked up that people are saying that feminists vote for women, and everyone else votes for the other guys.

Because seriously guys, how anti-feminist is it to say you’re going to vote for someone simply because of their gender? How is that different from saying, “oh hey, yeah, I don’t want a woman in office so even though I’m totes team Carly Fiorina, I’m throwing my ballot to Ben Carson because he’s a dude.” I think the problem with that statement (or it’s inverse) is that it neglects to acknowledge that feminism is essentially gender equality. Saying you’re going to vote for one person just because of their gender (or race, or religion) is the minority really isn’t promoting equality.

I totally get it. A lot of women like Clinton and Fiorina because they want to see someone who has similar struggles and similar needs as them in the White House. Those ladies are getting a huge female vote because women want to see female representation in the presidency. But isn’t our end goal to live in a world where the gender of a candidate doesn’t even cross our minds? Don’t we want gender to be a total non-issue?

You know what? I’m a woman, I want equality, and I’m not going to vote for either of those women (or maybe I am. It’s not really anybody’s business who anyone else is voting for).  Being a woman and being empowered means taking the initiative to educate yourself on the issues, developing a standpoint, and choosing the candidate whose plan matches yours the most.

Don’t get me wrong. I really, really respect these women, and I understand the great step forward they’re making for womankind by putting themselves out there and running to be the first female to lead in the Oval Office. But I also respect the women all over the nation who don’t plan on voting for them. I respect their intelligence, I respect their instincts, and most importantly, I respect their autonomy as women to check of whichever box on a ballot they damn well please.

Featured image via flickr

In a World Where Journalists Aren’t Safe: Reflections on the WDBJ Shooting

Despite everything,I still believe people

“What does democracy mean to you?”

I was 17, a senior in high school, when a civics teacher asked me that. After a semester of Democracy and Media Literacy with her, I’d realize that the answer to that question is pretty much absolutely everything.

I’m not one of those super rebellious liberals who “isn’t sure they believe in democracy.” I don’t know man. That just seems a little drastic for me. Sure, I lean super far left and I’m not afraid to admit it (who is these days?), but I think saying that I don’t believe in democracy anymore might be a little bit of a copout. Do I think democracy means something different in our 21st century world than it did in our fore fathers’ 18th century world? Well, yes. Do I think the way we’re adapting it to modernity isn’t quite what our Athenian friends were thinking of when they invented the whole concept? Probably not. But I still believe in it. I still think it’s worth working for. I still think that democracy is the best thing for freedom, and I think a well-informed electorate is the best thing for democracy. I believe in democracy, and I believe in the news.

I consume the news like an addict looking for her next fix. I refresh my Twitter newsfeed with a twitching finger. I worship at the altar of Cronkite and Murrow in the church of CNN. I sit, I read, I think, I discuss, I think harder, and I vote. And I can honestly tell you that no other practice makes me feel more American, more democratic, than that.

Which is why Wednesday, when I learned of the massacre of Alison Parker and Adam Ward, my stomach lurched in pain. This has brought to the forefront talks of gun control policy and mental healthcare reform, and I’m so glad we’re having those necessary discussions. But the pain I felt was a far more visceral one—this felt like an attack on journalism, an affront on the news.

I think a lot of people are (sadly) conditioned to the dangers that lay ahead for journalists internationally; in the past year ISIS has been responsible for the beheadings of over 60 journalists. And America only really reports on the Western journalists. But the other day… I don’t know. This wasn’t supposed to happen in our country. Journalists are supposed to be safe here. I don’t know if, as an American, as a person who loves democracy, I feel safe in a place where journalists aren’t safe. Isn’t journalism, the news, the very thing which is supposed to feed our democracy? Yesterday I was deeply saddened.

But something that I think makes journalists, and writers in general, special is that we pick up all of these demons, cover these exceptionally upsetting stories and discuss these deeply disturbing problems, but we wake up the next day all the more filled with hope.

On Wednesday, I posted a graphic with the quote “despite everything, I believe people are really good at heart.” And I do. I do believe Miss Frank’s words, because if she can believe them, who can’t? But yesterday they were harder to type out. I’m glad I did, though, if only to remind myself for later. If only to try and keep this thing we have going in America moving forward.

Why I Think Politicians Need to be More Like Doctors

I have probably the most badass job out there—yup, you guessed it, I’m a healthcare reporter. All sarcasm aside, sometimes I do find some pretty interesting stuff amongst all of the Medicare/Medicaid jargon I sift through on a daily basis. It’s on those days that I feel most lucky to still be able to find myself moved by even the most mundane of facts. I had one of those days a few weeks ago.

Before I dive in, for the sake of this article, let’s all just take our opinions of Obamacare and put them in the corner for like, five minutes. I am not a doctor, nor a financial expert, nor a politician. If I knew the answer to all of the healthcare problems in this country, I, not Donald Trump, would be running for president. I don’t pretend to have the next answer in universal (or privately paid) healthcare, but my love for democracy isn’t pretend either, and I think it’s important we don’t shy away from the tougher questions as voters.

According to a recent poll conducted by the American Association for Physician Leadership, 55 percent of the physicians are starting to get on board with the Affordable Care Act – or, as we politically robust Millennials so fondly know it, Obamacare – because they can see “more good in it than bad.” The physician support for Obamacare is growing and growing because doctors think that it offers great opportunities for patients who otherwise wouldn’t have health insurance.

I found that statistic so staggering not because it’s an overwhelming number (because let’s be honest, it’s not), but because of the rationale behind the respondents’ answers. A group of people who really didn’t think this bill was going to work, and who really kind of didn’t want it to, are starting to warm up to it because they see that it’s doing some good for their patients, and I think that’s really beautiful.

What I don’t think is really beautiful is the fact that even if 100 percent of surveyed doctors thought that Obamacare was the best thing in modern medicine, a lot of politicians would still try to kill the law, all because it doesn’t align with their political ideologies. And what’s pretty messed up is that this doesn’t start and end with healthcare—politics is so ridiculously partisan in all areas and it kind of makes me sick.

A liberal presidential candidate believes in affirmative action not because she believes it a great equalizer in higher education, but because they are a liberal and that’s what liberals do. A conservative candidate opposes gay marriage not because she genuinely believes in a constitutional right to freedom of religion, but because conservatives simply oppose it. Politicians vote along party lines not because they want to see their constituents win, but because they want to see their political enemies lose. Pretty soon the whole country’s going to lose because nobody can get a damn thing done.

I think politicians need to be a little bit more like doctors. Doctors have their beliefs and can be set in their ways, but when it comes down to the well-being of the patient, most of the time they completely pull through. I know there are politicians out there like that (at least that’s what Leslie Knope taught me), but for the most part, I’m looking at a Washington tangled in party lines and partisan politics.

But what we all bring to the table, doctors and politicians alike, is hope. I sure know I have hope. Hope that we’ll sort out Obamacare. Hope that we won’t defund Planned Parenthood. Hope that we’ll figure out how to stop shooting each other, how to accept each other, how to live and let live. I have hope that some day doctors can be doctors and politicians can be politicians and nobody will need to act like the other. I have hope that someday politicians will care so much more about the people, their people and their voters, than their party.