You Can Put Lipstick in the Oval Office, and It’s Still the Oval Office
Wisconsin and Women have great significance in the race to the white house
Lately, I have politics on the forefront of my mind; you could say I’m obsessed. But I’m not the only one. You can’t help but notice anywhere you look, there it is. As prevalent as the smell of lilacs that permeates from the kindergarten teacher’s desk in early spring, or in some cases it hangs in the air like the stench of the landfill on a sweltering July day. Republican. Democrat. Independent. It can leave your mind feel like a F5 twister is passing through if you try to understand the media storm. All the hypocrisy, the flip flopping, the mudslinging seems like a bad episode of Springer; coming at you live (without disclosures). As a writer, I am naturally curious about the psyche of people that cross my path, and when it comes to politics, I am an inquisition junkie.
I am learning that most people don’t even know the difference that defines, and often divides political parties. Kind of like Iraq and Iran, a shrug of the shoulders and sincere, “is there really much of a difference?” is more common than one might think. I think it may be campaign related sensory overload. And what seems to be an attempt to use “laymen’s terms”, within the comprehension of the general public or politically under informed, seems to be very generalized, only to be discredited by yet another commercial, or speech by a political opponent. Some of the speeches in the last several weeks make me feel like I am at a used car lot that skips the credit check. Obama… who? Hussein is his middle name, seriously. I’d sooner vote for Ross Perrot. However, if someone supports Obama, and has something to substantiate their vote, I absolutely respect that, even though I may disagree wholeheartedly.
Which brings me to the title of this piece. Enter lipstick. I was in complete shock when I learned who Senator McCain chose for a running mate. My jaw dropped. I am a huge fan of the Senator, I always have been. So his ‘maverick’ choice floored me. Who is this woman? Is this risky? Why, why, why? He had to have a reason, was all I kept thinking. As I speak to people, women in particular, as the mystery of the beauty queen’s persona unfolds, I am starting to get the picture.
In McCain’s acceptance speech he said, “I will NOT let you down… I will NOT let YOU down… I-WILL-NOT-LET-YOU-down…” The crowd roared, and I believe that, including in regards to his choice for Vice President. And I think it is remarkable how many women I have talked to that are registering to vote for the very first time. Why? The reason is simple and unanimous- Governor Sarah Palin. Woman of all ages, economic backgrounds, and political parties are inspired by this woman. They can relate. I alone have talked to four women of the baby boomer era, who have never voted, or registered to vote for that matter, and they have become passionate advocates for the mom of five. And they will be at the polls.
When Palin said that lipstick is the difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull, the crowd roared. When Obama replied that even if you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig, the crowd roared. I found it unsettling. He may have been aiming the insult at McCain as he claims, but even so, the comment was not a hit with those I have spoken to recently. The ironic thing is that you may imagine a feminist would be very offended, but I am not referring to women that are ‘libbers’, or implying that I am. On the contrary. But I do have a few things to say about lipstick. And high heels. And women. Thanks to an email from a local woman who is no stranger to government, I can offer a brief synopsis of the road traveled by our female predecessors, and why women should exercise this right.
It was not until 1920 that women were granted the right vote. The women picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the right to vote were jailed. Forty prison guards wielding clubs with their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.' by the end of the night, they were barely alive.
Dora Lewis was hurled into a dark cell; her head smashed against an iron bed and knocked out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.Thus unfolded the’ Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote. For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food, all of it colorless slop, was infested with worms. When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks. Until word was smuggled out to the press.
(Source - http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/suffrage/nwp/prisoners.pdf)
I like diversity, and adversity- it fuels my creativity and inspires me. And although I am steadfast in my moral beliefs, which essentially translates to political party in my opinion, I also recognize that this is what’s right for me- not everyone else. I do not stand on a soap box and preach, or tell someone there is only one way. After all, this is America, the land of the free, with a 1st amendment I respect. I simply find myself saying “why?” more often lately. I understand the term ‘healthy debate’ much better than I did as a student.
I think when the majority hears extreme terms like ‘right wing Republican’; it rains stereotypes that flood out logic… and ones ability to listen. Walls go up to divide and defend. It seems some think difference is a noun that defines as an enemy. It can in this case certainly mean opponent, but enemy? Opponents should be appreciated, they make us bring our best to the table, but an enemy can have an opposite nuclear bomb-like effect. I am the first to admit, the few I am very close to in my personal life, are of conservative foundation as well. I surround myself with a small tight knit circle of Republicans. The funny thing is most of my dear right wing loved ones are innocently oblivious as to their Republicanism, if you will. The only reason I think they may have voted for Bush is because I plead his case to them (with no regrets for the record) But it’s not about politics to me, but rather perspective, or in my opinion patriotism. It’s not about money, but rather morals. You get the picture.
Tony Robbins, one of my favorite motivational speakers said, “People like people like them.” It is so obvious you may have to reread it a few times. It makes sense, that’s why I harbor a few conservatives close, but that by no means implies I dislike those that are not like me. Enter another cliché, and one stereotype I think may have some validity, ‘birds of a feather flock together.’ But it takes both a left wing and a right wing to fly, no matter if your taking a bird, a plane or politics.
We have come a long way. As have other genres, such as ethnic backgrounds, religions, and humans as a whole really. We can vote; each and every American adult. And on November 4th, Senator Obama may be taken back by the power of lipstick at the polls. And I’m not talking about pigs or pitbulls, but rather hockey moms and working women. And whether it is to vote for him or his opponents, I get the feeling it is going to be record setting numbers at the polls. I hope so. Progress has come with great price, no matter if you are in the left wing, the right wing, or smack dab in the middle; show up and do your part. Vote. Don’t let the price that others have paid be in vain. I have been around long enough to know, that what you do in this life matters. And your vote counts. Get up, get involved and Get out there and vote!