Another year is winding down and in 2012 we successfully staved off the reactionary right wing’s war on women and common sense. Women re-elected President Obama in staggering numbers and instead of playing defense, it’s time to move the ball down the court. Here, in no particular order, are 13 policy priorities I’d like to see addressed in 2013.
- Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. This would be a fantastic accomplishment for Congress to end the year on. The fact that VAWA is now seen as partisan issue truly shows that the Republicans are a fringe regional party.
- Effective gun control legislation: I’m happy to see the President’s task force, but am a wee bit skeptical. Concrete regulations and policy recommendations need to be drafted, stat, before our collective attention gets taken over by the next fire that needs putting out.
- Over-the-counter birth control: Hey, France allows 15-18 year old girls to buy birth control over-the-counter without parental notification. It’s almost like France recognizes that girls are individuals who don’t always have adults in their lives that are working for her best interests. Even GOP Governor Bobby Jindal made a case for this. Looks like this issue may be low-hanging fruit.
- Repeal the Hyde Amendment: A draconian amendment made by an obtuse man decades ago that keeps getting renewed by other obtuse and out-of-touch individuals. The ladies won the election for Obama and the Senate Democrats. Time to push forward and end this bit of stupidity.
- Subsidized child care: The cognitive dissonance of the forced pregnancy crowd never ceases to amaze me. Got to have those kids but who takes care of them and pays the exorbitant costs while mom works a not- so -spectacularly paying job?
- Entitlements for stay- at -home moms: Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Every quarter a woman takes off to raise her kids is one where she is not paying into Social Security. Time to put our money where our mouth is. If being a mom is the most important job in the world we need to our society to officially recognize that and give SAHM’s a basic safety net when their time in need inevitably comes.
- Equal pay: I’m very happy that the Lilly Ledbetter Act is law, but it isn’t enough. Let’s get serious about this issue which negatively affects the bottom line of almost every household in the country.
- Push again for a public option in health care: The Affordable Care Act state exchanges are going live soon. Awesome. It’s working pretty well in Massachusetts. But there are still gaps. A public option and actual universal, government run health care is the answer. It’s less expensive and less cumbersome for American consumers/citizens.
- Make anti-stalking laws stronger: This is an issue where state legislatures can really make tangible, meaningful change quickly.
- Rewrite rape laws: Because if we don’t, the Paul Ryan’s of the world will continue to try. And why be on defense when we can get out in front? Again, there’s a lot we can do on the state level to make some positive change.
- Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) moratoriums: This is quite possibly the biggest energy, public health, and economic issue that faces our country and unless one of the big energy companies has set up shop in your town most people are blissfully unaware of the natural gas industry’s impact. Big congratulations to New York State activists for advocating and getting a moratorium on drilling against an industry that is hell-bent on continuing to operate in secrecy and without normal federal oversight. Again, this issue is being decided at the municipal and state level. The chemicals that are being pumped into our soil, water, and air affect our health and well-being. This is a public health and environmental crisis in the making that can no longer be ignored.
- More federal funding for alternative energy sources development: Oh hey, did you know that for a decade, federal money—our tax dollars—were given for research and development for fracking? Yeah, let’s keep doing R&D but for photovoltaics and wind turbines and all that. Wouldn’t it be nice to actually be energy independent and not rely on fossil fuels?
- Foreign policy focused on women’s security worldwide. Put the book “Sex and World Peace” on your reading list. It is chalk full of empirical evidence that shows micro-level gender violence and macro-level state peacefulness are connected. Or more plainly stated, the personal is the political. P.S. I’m going to miss Hillary as Secretary of State and I might just send a copy of the book to John Kerry’s office.
There it is. I’m sure I’ve missed many more important issues that need to be worked on in 2013 and please leave them in the comments. And one more thing for you to think about and act on in 2013, a New Year’s resolution, perhaps? Start working on running for office. It’s easier than you think. School boards, township commissions, city councils, and your state legislatures need you. These policy initiatives are bread and butter issues that get minimized or ignored because they are seen as “women’s issues.” Electing forward-thinking feminist women to all levels of government helps make sure that common sense legislation sees the light of day and is enacted.