Your Voice, Your Vote: 5 Election Issues to Think About

As we are now in the home stretch to the 2012 presidential election, I wanted to tell you about a book that is a great resource for those of us looking for some background on more than just how to find the right polling place and something that goes deeper than Schoolhouse Rock!

When I was at the Democratic National Convention, Martha Burk gave me a copy of her wonderful book, Your Voice, Your Vote: The Savvy Woman’s Guide to Power, Politics and the Change We Need.  Burk knows what she’s talking about when it comes to why women should be super-focused on this year’s presidential campaign — she’s a political psychologist and expert on women’s issues, which is no surprise since she is also the former chair of the National Council of Women’s Organizations.

Yes, Martha and I both lean left, but her book is something women (and men) regardless of political party should pick up before November 6.

Both President Obama and Mitt Romney know that women voters are the key to winning the White House, regardless of how we’re characterized. So how to engage women has to be a candidate’s priority. But women voters need to educate themselves not only about the issues, but also about how those we send to Washington get the influence to either pass legislation or throw a monkey wrench in the process to prevent anyone’s agenda from moving forward.

Here are five topics from Martha’s book that have gotten me thinking about more than just the 2012 talking points campaign:

1. Tax changes for women – We’ve heard the candidates speak a lot about taxes, at least in general terms. And I’m guessing that even now, Mitt Romney would like to take back that comment about the “47%” of Americans he believes pay no income taxes. But certain tax issues should be on women’s radar, such as whether there should be an increase in the Child Tax Credit, whether we should eliminate the “marriage penalty” in the tax code, and whether there should be a Social Security tax credit for care-giving.

2. Health care – Did you know that 15 percent of insurance policies provide no benefits for the first trimester of pregnancy? Or that the majority of individual health care policies offer no coverage for maternity benefits, even if you’re willing to pay for them? Also, if you’re a student 26 or under still on your parents’ insurance plan and you get pregnant, you probably won’t have maternity benefits, either. That will change once the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented in 2014 — if it has a chance to be fully implemented. Regardless of your political leanings, these are some major tax issues that will impact families that we’re not hearing a lot about.

3. Afghanistan and Iraq – We’re on our way to having our troops come home from Afghanistan, but there are still approximately 68,000 U.S. soldiers there. And while our troop presence is supposedly over in Iraq, there are still many diplomats and contractors there in harm’s way. Aside from the issue of whether there are important security reasons to have troops there and other places around the world, the amount of money spent on those conflicts is money that could be spent on domestic programs at home. What’s more important to you?

4. Global Women’s IssuesSecretary of State Hillary Clinton has championed increased attention for global issues that impact women and girls, seeking out a role for the United States in helping to create more opportunities that will lead to increased political and economic stability around the world. But Clinton has made it clear that she’s stepping down from that role if President Obama is re-elected. So how would a future Secretary of State in a second Obama administration address these concerns? Or what would it look like with Romney as president?  Sure, his wife Ann likes to shout about “WOMEN!”, but one Romney short list shows no women in the running for the State Department.  That doesn’t mean a male appointee wouldn’t be tuned in to the work that Hillary has done, but for me, it’s an issue to consider.

5. Education – Most of the time, the heated debate we have in this country about education makes my head hurt. Why we should have any conflict about strengthening our public schools, regardless of whether you send your kids to one or not? We all want our children to get a good education, right?  I’m not so sure sometimes. I worry that those who don’t support public school education will be the ones who go after public libraries next. And when I think that’s just the conspiracy theory part of my brain working overtime, a story hits the news like Malala Yousafzi, the Pakistani school girl who was shot at point blank range by the Taliban because she dared to speak out about the lack of girls’ educational opportunities. Americans take education for granted. And my soon-to-be 13-year-old takes her school days and learning for granted.  I’d like to think about a presidential administration that puts education at the top of its “to do” list instead of staying stuck in a mindset where we take it all for granted.

Burk’s book got me thinking about all those issues, and more. It’s a great primer on many other issues that you think know something about, but would like a little more background on without the spin of cable talking heads, like why women voters should care about the mortgage/housing crisis, foreign affairs (the topic of the next and final presidential debate), reproductive health, paid maternity leave, civil rights — you name it, she’ s got it in this valuable book.

I know many of us are feeling a little worn down with all the political coverage, but keep these words from Burk in mind:

“[O]ne woman can change the world — but it’s easier when we combine our power into a force to be reckoned with.”

Once you’ve read Your Voice, Your Vote, you’ll be re-energized and ready for the electoral home stretch.

Read more from me at my place PunditMom and in my Amazon best-selling book, Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America (A great pre-2012 election read!)

Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and read more of  The Spin Cycle:

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