You Asked Why I Vote? by Rachelle “Rocky” Richard*

All MEN are created equal. I never quite felt that that noun was inclusive. If it were, I would no longer have to fight, in the year 2004, to have birth control pills covered by health insurance plans while Viagra is a given, and its advertisements for free samples too prevalent.

So, am I cynical? Yes! Am I disappointed with politicians on both sides of the aisle who stand up for choice and then turn around and support anti-choice candidates? YES!

But, too many Americans, regardless of class, race, ethnicity, gender and age have forgotten that a powerful struggle took place in this country granting so many of us the right to vote, and far too many take this precious right for granted. Voting is a means of term limits. Voting can be a vehicle for change.

So . . . why do I vote?

I vote to honor my grandparents who fled Europe and came to America so that their future children would be born free from persecution. I vote for my relatives and the people who were robbed of their future.

I vote for my foremothers, the suffragettes, who had the audacity to fight a male regime in order to secure “for us” the right to vote.

I vote to prevent the appointment of court justices who believe that women are inferior, subservient, second class citizens, at best, whose views are reminiscent of another male Texan whose vile remark, “if you’re gonna be raped, just lay back and enjoy it” jokes about the most violent attack against a woman.

I vote for the person who I believe will best represent me and my interests, not necessarily the person who I think will win an election. I vote because I cannot sit idly by while my country is destroyed by the radical right.

I vote for rape victims who were violated again in the courtroom prior to the rape shield laws. I vote for the countless women who died from back alley abortions because they had no choice. I vote for the young woman who has no one to turn to when she finds herself pregnant. I vote for women and children who are victims of domestic violence. I vote for all women who have been silenced.

I vote because it is a right and a privilege of my citizenship. I vote because I want a better future. I vote because I am patriotic. I vote because I want to see democracy reign, not a dictatorship.

I vote because how free one is should not be based on the size of one’s pocketbook.

I vote because George W. Bush uses the terms liberty, freedom of choice and freedom from oppression for the Iraqis, but at every turn he attempts to prohibit such freedom for women in his own country! Remember, if a woman cannot control her reproductive system, she is not free to control her destiny. I vote because I am terrified that should I decide to have a child, that s/he will never have the freedoms that I have enjoyed.

I vote because I believe in the First Amendment. I vote because I have a voice and I am not afraid to use it. I vote for those who stand up for women’s rights and reproductive freedom to ensure liberty and justice for all of us. I vote because I am proud to be an American, even in these trying and frightening times.

I vote to commemorate 2,976 innocent people who went to work one sunny September 11th and never came home . . .

I vote, because in the end . . . there is simply no other choice.

*reprinted from ProChoice Voting Guide, November 2004

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