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October 04, 2007

The Parental Goes Political

Sick_teddy_3 Edited to correct an error.  I erroneously referred to Senator Dodd as being unaware of "us" in a meeting with Devra.  Unfortunately, I accidentally linked and mentioned Devra's meeting with Senator Dodd instead of Kim's meeting with Senator Durbin (D-IL).  You know, all those white guys look alike to me.  (Joke, people. Joke.)  As far as I know, Senator Dodd has never indicated that he is unaware of us mom bloggers and has, in my opinion, been a good friend to mothers and families.  My apologies to Senator Dodd.

The women of the Silicon Valley, Chicago, and DC Metro Moms Blogs have been talking about politics a lot lately.  Have you noticed?  In the year preceding an election, it's only natural that that so many well educated and articulate women are talking about the future of our country.  The problem?  We don't seem to be taken seriously.  At least not as seriously as the "men."

A recent column in The Caucus, the political blog of the New York Times asks whether men are more involved than women in blogging about politics.  The consensus seemed to be that, yes, they are, although no one seems to be able to explain it.  I think the answer lies not in brash statistics, but in redefining "involvement."

Women bloggers, at least the bloggers I know, don't tend to blog exclusively about politics.  We write about the environment, education, health care, our families, our jobs, our lives and politics.  However, we aren't always looking for the next sound bite from a politician or dissecting the latest poll figures.  We write about what concerns us in a way that concerns us, and resonates with our readers.

Earlier this week, Kim wrote about an encounter she had with Senator Durbin where he revealed that he had never heard of "mommy bloggers."  He had no. idea. we. exist.  Our writers have issued invitations to the candidates and their spouses, but most have been ignored or declined.  Frankly, we were beginning to think no one was listening to us.

Then, the Silicon Valley Moms had the opportunity to meet with Elizabeth Edwards and some of the Chicago and DC Metro Moms participated by phone.  We were heartened to realize that some people are listening to us; some people are taking us seriously; some people understand that women bloggers will be a decisive force in the next presidential election.

To continue that trend, we're trying something a little different here and on each of our sister sites.  Today, we're all going to have an organized discussion about a pivotal political issue in the next election: health care.  If we can get a dialogue going, we'd like to do this on a regular basis and tackle many issues that are important to mothers.  Those issues also happen to be political.  For us, the parental is political and we'd like to make the mainstream media and our politicians understand that.

We planned this several weeks ago, shortly after Hillary Rodham Clinton announced her health care reform plan and while the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) legislation was pending in Congress.  Our organized topical blogging event turned out to be quite timely. In fact, due to the President's veto of the SCHIP legislation, Moms Rising is organizing rallies across the nation to put pressure on Congress to override the veto.

This Summer at the BlogHer 2007 conference in Chicago, BlogHer also announced that the new BlogHers Act initiative will focus on global health.  The ladies of BlogHer have agreed to join us in discussing health care today, so be sure to check out Cooper and Emily's blog as well. 

Regardless of where you are seated on the political aisle, health care is important.  A serious illness, even if you have insurance, can financially cripple a family.  Even a family that considers itself somewhat stable financially could easily be bankrupt by pregnancy and childbirth without insurance.  For example, in my first pregnancy, which I assumed would be routine, my son and I racked up more than $100,000 in health care costs.  How does the average American family handle something so catastrophic without insurance?

There are other issues of concern as well.  How can our country afford universal health care without overburdening tax payers? Access to specialists and even family physicians can be quite limited in rural areas of the U.S. How do we ensure that all Americans have the access they need?  What about long term and elder care?  If we do adopt some form of universal health care, will care be rationed to ensure that there is some limited access for all?

I can't pretend to have all of the answers or even know all of the issues.  But I sure as hell want the presidential candidates to address my questions.  I want to know that they are seriously considering how to deal with the health care crisis in this country.  Clearly, my fellow Mom bloggers have concerns of their own.

Earlier this week, one of our D.C. Metro Mom bloggers, Joanne, wrote a call to action.  She asked for women bloggers to take their rightful place in political discourse and make some real change.  I think she has the right idea.  We need to make some noise to get our voices out there, but I know we can do it with your help. As I said in a post last month, we aren't going to be ignored.

If the posts we've gathered for you today are any indication, we moms have a hell of a lot to say about politics.  Will you listen?

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