Tuesday, October 23, 2012

You've Come a Long Way, Baby!

"How many homemakers are neglecting their duties as patriotic citizens of our great America? Most of us are so preoccupied with tasks of being good wives and mothers that we have let our duties as citizens slip into obscurity.

Do you, wife and mother, know the difference between 'conservative' and 'liberal'? do you know what the Civil Rights Bill consists of? Do you really understand what 'disarmament' means? You ask, 'who am I to worry about our Foreign Aid Program? I have trouble enough balancing my monthly budget!'

I say all of these things are more vitally important to our domestic roles than most women know. It's time we wake up and realize that we do have just as much say-so in our government and its policies as the men! Our votes count, too!

You say you would like to do your part, but you don't have a college degree with a background in political science. All of this campaigning is a lot of mumbo-jumbo to you?

Well, open your ears and listen. Instead of spending this summer faithfully tuning into your favorite soap operas, make it a point to listen carefully to the news and the many commentators available. Know what's going on -- and where. Who's saying what -- and why.

Most important, though, open your eyes and read! Instead of glancing at the headlines and devouring the society pages,  read -- really read the news, and carefully study the editorials in your newspapers. Let your ladies' magazines and love stories stack up this summer. There will be plenty of time to read them after the elections in November. Instead, take advantage of the libraries and the numerous bookstores in our area to furnish you with your reading material for the next four months.

There are many excellent books on American history and government in case your knowledge is a little rusty. Ask your librarian to recommend some -- or better still, talk to some of our local officials and school authorities and ask their advice as to what to read. Read the literature you receive in the mail from the candidates for public office before you toss them in the trash. Many of them have written books on their own beliefs and opinions. It would be wise to read them as well if at all possible.

While you are being educated in history and government, talk about it. Discuss with your husband, friends, and neighbors what you read. Ask questions, get opinions, and gradually you will begin to form your own opinions.

I am speaking as one of the many housewives who say, 'I am too busy. Politics bore me.' Or even worse, the ones who trust others ('more informed') to make decisions for them at the polls. This is my first year to vote, I am ashamed to say. I have run through all the old and familiar excuses. However, my oldest child is starting to school this year. There is something about entrusting the molding of my child's personality to a handful of strangers that arouses parental suspicion. In my case, I want to know who decides what my child shall learn. 

As I searched for information on the subject, I began to realize that there was more to it than just scrutinizing teachers and school officials at the local level. So much depends upon how much authority the Federal Government has or will have in the future. What type of government we have will determine what my children will learn. Thus, my long trek towards enlightenment and becoming a better citizen as well as a wife and mother.

For the many wives in the same situation as I am, I offer my plan. I am struggling through this plan now. It's not easy, but if you are determined as I am, you will find time in your daily household routine for these methods:
  1. Determine the important issues in this year's election. This is easy enough to do by reading the front page of your newspaper. A few this year are Civil Rights Legislation, Disarmament, and Federal Aid.
  2. Open your ears and listen! (TV and radio news and commentaries.) This won't even interfere with housework, as you can iron, wash dishes, etc. while you learn. Know what's going on and where. Who's saying what - and why.
  3. Read. Books on American History and Government. If in doubt about what to read, don't be embarrassed to ask the librarian for help - or even call the school authorities for their recommendations. Carefully read literature written or sent by mail from the candidates to learn their beliefs and opinions.
  4. Talk, talk, talk! Discuss what you've learned with family, friends, and neighbors. Ask questions, get their opinions, and compare the answers you come up with.
  5. Form your own opinions.
This is my plan. I intend to go to the polls in November knowing who and for what I am voting. Whether you follow it or have your own method of gaining political knowledge, I pray that we can intelligently make the right decisions.

And Lord help us if you forgot to pay your poll tax again this year!"

The year was 1964. My how things have changed since then. There was no cable TV or Internet. Few women were in the workplace. And I was a politically naive young 24-year-old mother of two. I recently ran across this piece I wrote by hand while continuing my efforts to cull out unnecessary "stuff" I've hung onto all these many years. I decided to print it word for word. It will be a good laugh for many... but it might make a few young women of today realize how fortunate they are to have had concerned mothers and grandmothers during those tumultuous times nearly 50 years ago! 

The issues today are every bit as important, if not more so, than those we faced in 1964. It is every bit as important for each of us to get out and vote!

Peace and love,