Last weekend was…rough. The loss of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is especially brutal for American women, not only because of her legacy as a women’s rights champion, but also because that same legacy is now at stake as Republicans look to break their own precedent that no Justices should be appointed during an election year to ensure an anti-choice pundit takes the seat before the close of 2020. The weight of the country was on Justice Ginsburg’s shoulders until her very final days, in which she declared “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new President is installed.” She probably realized that whoever replaced her would not only tip the scales for equality in this country, but also potentially be deciding this upcoming election as Trump challenges every mail-in-vote against him.
Justice Ginsburg was rightfully a women’s icon: because of her, I can sign a mortgage without a man, have a bank account without a male co-signer, and have a credit card in my own name. I admired her so much I literally named my dog after her (Ruth Barker Ginsburg). But Justice Ginsburg should never have had to hold an entire nation’s hope against a crumbling democracy on her shoulders alone. A man who didn’t even win the popular vote is now able to run America like it’s an NBC reality show, and not even the mightiest Supreme Court Justice could keep that at bay with a Senate majority of sycophants backing his every move.
Americans should not have to fear that our representatives will work to dismantle the very (basic) rights that generations have fought and died for. However, here we are: the very same Senators who blocked the appointment of Merrick Garland (that’s how we ended up with an accused rapist on our Supreme Court) are now rushing through an appointment against their very own “rules.” In 2016 Lindsey Graham said, “If there is a Republican President in 2016, and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said, ‘Let’s let the next President, whoever it might be, make that nomination.’ And you can use my words against me, and you’d be absolutely right.” Yet now he is pushing through his ~third~ supreme court nominee in the exact situation he promised a new Justice would not be appointed in.
So who does Trump want the Republican held Senate to replace RBG with? One potential nominee is Amy Coney Barrett who said that a legal career is “but a means to an end … and that end is building the Kingdom of God.” The purpose of the judiciary is actually to promote justice and provide an impartial forum for the resolution of legal disputes, but, I digress! If you are wondering what is at stake in this election, the answer is everything. Reproductive rights are at stake. Our children’s futures are at stake. Our right to healthcare is at stake. LGBTQ protections are at stake. It is clearer than ever that to maintain a just justice system, we have to flip the Senate and elect lawmakers who relate to being anything other than an employed college-educated white man in America. This includes working moms, the backbone of our economy.
By age 44, 86% of American women are mothers. Yet only 5% of our congressional representatives are mothers of children 18 and under. Why? Mothers face extraordinary structural and cultural barriers to working in general (side-eyeing our major pay gap and lack of promotions given to mothers compared to fathers) – but especially running for office. That’s where Vote Mama comes in. Vote Mama is working to remove the barriers mothers face when running for office up and down the ballot and across the country, because when mamas have a seat at the table, conversations and priorities shift. Moms are more likely to introduce legislation that prioritizes the needs of American families, like universal childcare and paid family leave. To be clear, these aren’t just “women’s issues”, they’re economic issues (let us remember that RBG’s major anti-gender-discrimination case was to allow a man to be a caretaker). America loses $57 billion a year in earnings and revenue because of lack of affordable childcare – a deficit felt by mothers and fathers alike. Moms are also effective AF- Mamas with kids 18 years old and younger introduce five more pieces of legislation than other representatives do during their tenure. This legislation includes family friendly policies like paid family leave, affordable childcare and housing, funding for education, and healthcare. The best way to change the decisions of lawmakers is to change who the lawmakers are.
A lot of people are asking “What do we do? Where do we start?” There’s no one correct answer (I contained my rage by printing and annotating transcripts of Lindsey Graham’s now infamous “you can say Lindsey Graham said..” speech and mailing a copy to every single one of his offices) but there are some basic things you can do to help defend our democracy.
Here’s your to do list:
What To Do With Your Rage While You’re Mourning RBG
1. COMPLETE YOUR CENSUS at my2020census.gov. The Census gives you and your community money and power. You don’t count if you don’t get counted!
2. FIND OUT WHO REPRESENTS YOU Did you know that in some parts of the country, school board members choose the textbooks your kids learn from? Did you know that you *don’t* have to have a child attending a school in the district to be a school board member? Make sure you know who represents you at ALL levels of government and what they stand for at https://www.commoncause.org/find-your-representative.
3. CHECK YOUR VOTER REGISTRATION STATUS at Vote.org. My hometown had a literal TIE in the 2012 general election, so I don’t want to hear any “but my vote doesn’t count” nonsense.
4. MAKE A PLAN TO VOTE! Your vote is more important than ever, so make sure you have a plan to vote! Don’t want to vote in person because of COVID-19? Visit vote.org to request an absentee ballot ASAP.
5. DONATE These are some rough economic times we’re in, I know, but if you’re able, here are some organizations and candidates that would benefit the most from your donation:
6. VOLUNTEER FOR A CAMPAIGN COVID has completely changed the name of the game in campaigning, and candidates have had to shift their entire operations online. The good news is, your help goes a long way! Every single candidate and every single level of office in every single part of this country benefits from phone banking! Don’t know where to start? Volunteer to phonebank for one of Vote Mama’s 47 endorsed badass mamas who are going to change the world!
7. CALL YOUR SENATORS and tell them to vote NO on filling the Supreme Court vacancy before the next presidential term. Find your Senator’s contact information here.
8. ADVOCATE FOR CAMPAIGN FUNDS FOR CHILD CARE We must break down the barriers keeping women from running for office. One significant barrier? Childcare. Vote Mama is fighting to pass campaign funds for childcare in all 50 states — by 2023. Check if your state allows campaign funds for child care and if not, contact me so Vote Mama Foundation can partner with you in this fight.
9. JOIN THE VOTE MAMA LEADERSHIP COUNCIL Be part of the team helping to elect mamas up and down the ballot and across the country! Start by joining Vote Mama and Elizabeth Warren for an event on October 19th. How? Shoot me an email and I’ll get you set up.
10. WEAR YOUR MASK (over your nose!!) because it’s the nice thing to do.
Sarah Hague is Vote Mama’s Political Director. Sarah is a political social worker dedicated to getting womxn elected at every level of government in every part of the country. She is a painter, yoga lover, and dog mom to Ruth Barker Ginsburg. She believes that Black lives matter.