Sitting in the back of my lecture hall, I am half-listening to my poli-sci 101 class. My professor poses the question: "Rationally, we know that our vote doesn't make a difference, so why do it?"
The kid in front of me, the kind of guy that no one takes seriously and who we all wonder how he got into this university, jumps out of his chair and yells, "You have to buy a ticket to win!"
I have voted in every election since I was 18. Even when I don't know who I am going to vote for I am compelled to go to the voting booth to mark the X (or draw the arrow or whatever it is). I watch, I listen and I participate. Some years, I am more partisan than others, but I have a sense of what is important to me and I know that government is important to me and to my family.
Not all people care about politics. But once you are a parent, doesn't it seem to matter a little bit more? The issues of health care, education, and the economy are important now and will be the basis of the country our kids will grow up in. I consider every election a teachable moment - I am able to show my kids that they can make a difference by voting, but also be talking and thinking and asking questions. I remember hanging off my mom as she went into the voting booth; and my kids will remember that too.
But this year, it feels like people aren't engaged which is strange considering that this was supposed to be the year that social media took the election to the next level. It also felt like bloggers who are moms (yes, mommy bloggers), weren't talking about the election at all.
So, a few of us decided to do something about it. A group of us started Mom the Vote to encourage mothers who have a social media platform to blog, discuss, tweet and engage in this election and try and lead a discussion on an important topic. And they have! The Facebook page has a lively discussion going on it at all times; the Twitter hashtag is moving at the speed of light.
I don't agree with all the posts and tweets and comments, but I read them and I learn new things. I have been blown away with the respect people have given each other and also the vitriol. Politics is not easy to discuss which is maybe why we shy away from it. The personal is political and the political can very, very personal.
Why Mom the Vote? Aren't moms just voters? Yes, we are voters and just because we are moms does not mean we have a different agenda than anyone else. But like it or not, the parties have openly said they are trying to reach the "mom" vote and as a "mommy blogger" I want to send a message that I am listening. I am doing more than listening; I am engaging, I am asking questions and I hope you are too. (One of the best parts is the example that I am setting for my kids who see their parent being part of the political process).
So if you want to know what a diverse, interested, cynical, open, caring, political group of voters moms are, check out the Mom the Vote Facebook page and if you are on Twitter (I am @emmawaverman) the #momthevote hashtag. And if all this social media talk doesn't mean anything to you, read the paper, listen to the radio, and talk to your friends. And then go buy a ticket to win. It's a small amount of power, but it is a start.
CBC's The National did a story on Mom the Vote with an interview with my brilliant pal Karen Green from the Kids Are Alright, and the Globe and Mail also did a story on Mom the Vote and the power of mom bloggers with a tiny quote by me. The Yummy Mummy Club has a Mom the Vote section, which anyone can contribute to.
Are you paying attention to this election? Do you look at election issues differently now that you are a parent?