How To Get Our Voices Heard by Kate Palisay


This post originally appeared on Passerbuys in  November 2016 and is republished here, one year after the 2016 Presidential Election.

When I cast my vote on Election Day, I had every confidence in the world that by the end of the night, the United States would have elected its first female president. I knew that Americans would reject prejudice, hate, and abuse. I knew that they would choose to be led not by a lying narcissist, but by an intelligent, diplomatic, and wildly experienced woman who could be trusted to carry our country into the future. And they did.

Hillary Clinton will win the popular vote. She will win it by a substantially wider margin than Al Gore did in 2000, when his legitimate victory too was erased by the Electoral College. She will also win it by a margin greater than those of former Presidents John F. Kennedy in 1960 and Richard Nixon in 1968. Her current lead of 1 million votes is expected to increase dramatically, possibly doubling, in the coming days and weeks.

American voters chose Hillary. When Electors meet to choose our country’s next president, they will not choose the will of American voters.

The realities of this election have left so many of us feeling unempowered, deeply sad, and unsure about how to move forward. To members of marginalized communities, the outcome of this election has implicated that the majority of our country stands not with them, but decidedly against them and their rights.

In recent days, I have grieved for what this outcome may mean for me, for my friends and loved ones, and for my country. I have asked myself what I can do to protect the rights of those whose livelihoods are now under attack. One of the greatest threats posed to those of us in marginalized groups is the threat of being silenced. Now more than ever our voices must be loud and they must be heard. We must reject complacency and embrace action.

One of the most powerful channels we can use to get our voices heard is through writing letters to our government representatives and telling them what we, their voting constituents, want them to do. But writing letters (especially effective ones) can be time-consuming and challenging, ultimately discouraging many people from making the effort. But what if the process could be simplified and user-friendly?

This is where I come in. I want to give everyone the opportunity to get their voices heard by their elected officials, demanding the changes, policies, and protections that matter most by making pre-written letters on important bills and issues accessible to anyone who would like to send one. To kick things off, I’m starting this project with a challenge to the Electoral College.

You may already be one of the millions of people that have signed the change.org petition asking the Electoral College to cast their votes for Hillary Clinton when they convene next month. In all likelihood, change will not come as quickly as we hope. Much more needs to be done to weaken the power of the Electoral College and that fight is perhaps best fought on the state, not the federal, level.

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is an agreement by states to pledge their Electors to the winner of the national popular vote, rather than to the winner of the popular vote within their own state. While ten states and the District of Columbia have already signed this legislation into law, the Compact does not actually go into effect until enough states have signed on to guarantee a total of 270 Electoral Votes (the number needed to secure the presidency) to be pledged.

If you’re interested in finding out how your state representatives are working toward introducing NPVIC legislation, you can start by checking out this guide with information about the Compact, which states have passed it or have active bills on it, and who your representatives are and how to contact them.

Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to fill out this template and send your letter!

I hope that many more Letters to the Legislator will follow soon, on any and all issues which demand that our voices be heard. As women, we make up more than half of the U.S. population. So ladies, let’s make some noise.

Candidate Trump on Abortion: An Analysis by Kate Palisay

Originally shared to Facebook in July 2016, I broke down the fallacies behind then-candidate Donald Trump's approach in answering questions about abortion during his Town Hall meeting with MSNBC's Chris Matthews in March 2016.

While Donald Trump has since changed his rhetoric and said that he does not believe that women should be punished for abortion, but rather, doctors performing abortions should face legal/criminal consequences, this video does far more than expose Mr. Trump's harmful policies toward women. It shows that the Republican presidential candidate does not believe in, or perhaps even understand, the critical separation of Church and State in the United States of America. Rather than answering policy questions posed during a Town Hall by MSNBC journalist Chris Matthews, Trump turns the questions on the event's moderator, bullying him into disclosing his own stance on abortion and accusing him of betraying the moral teachings of the Catholic Church, which officially forbids abortion. This tactic of deflection has long been Trump's signature interview style, yet it fails to meet the needs of voters in attendance at this Town Hall; voters who, come November, will be choosing a candidate on a ballot that does not include Mr. Matthews.

Trump seems to believe that Matthews, as a practicing Catholic, must subscribe to the same pro-life policies adopted by his own campaign, policies that aim to make abortions illegal and punishable by law over 40 years after SCOTUS ruled on Roe v. Wade. He badgers the journalist, demanding to know how Matthews can reconcile his politics with his religion. The fact that that it is HE who is running for the highest executive office in the United States, a position wielding incredible power and influence on American government, policy, and law, and NOT Matthews, seems entirely lost on Trump. As a private citizen (employed as an anchor by a cable news network), Matthews enjoys a certain level of freedom to his opinions that public servants do not; his political opinions do not directly impact the public through government policy.

Yet Matthews exercises much greater responsibility over his opinions than does Trump, who very well could find himself in the position to exert the greatest level of political influence on our government as President of the United States come January. What Matthews understands that Trump does not, is that one can be devout while still supporting laws that protect the health, safety, and well-being of women and children. Your own personal moral opposition to abortion does NOT give you the right to police women's bodies, denying them access to safe healthcare and services. You are free to choose the outcome of your own unplanned pregnancy. You are also free to encourage adoption and offer financial support to your daughter, sister, cousin, aunt, and friend when she becomes pregnant at the wrong time. Moreover, you may use your freedom to campaign passionately for better sex education and greater access to family planning resources. But you cannot use the law of the United States to punish all women according to your own belief system. You are not free to limit others' freedom.