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Michealene Cristini Risley Headshot

Why I'm Running for President of the United States!

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Last week, Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson. A regular guest on Fox News, pointed out that the "greatest mistake America made was allowing women to vote." At this rate, I won't be surprised to see a national dialogue on revoking women 's driver's licenses sometime soon. The idea will be introduced by a male, Republican leader; and yes, I use the word "leader" loosely.

As outrageous as the Reverend's comments may seem to ordinary people, they are right in line with the regressive stance on women's rights that became so popular in 2012. In today's political climate, Mad Men looks like a positively progressive TV show. In fact, today's political climate reminds me of another media fantasy; Walt Disney's Mulan. After being injured while saving the entire army, Mulan's gender is revealed. The discovery that Mulan is a woman is enough for her to be killed for high treason. "She's a woman," says the Chinese's Emperors Council Chefu. That scene in Mulan continues to play out over again across America, and the world. Many of our leaders continue to marginalize women on the floor of the Senate, in the halls of Congress and through media outlets across the country.

Internationally, women have a long history of subjugation. America was always supposed to be the beacon for women's freedom. What has happened to our country? Lately, Whenever we think the "extremist" stance toward us has reached it's lowest point, we are proved wrong. How far will women's rights need to fall before someone takes notice? Who is that someone? It is all of us. We all are that someone. You and I. And this, my friends, is the reason that I, just another someone, am running to be the President of the United States. Yes, I, Michealene Cristini Risley am running for president in 2012.

We all need to repair the most pressing problems in our country. We need to discuss plausible and practical ways of tackling issues like immigration, prison reform, the role of the media and regulations on corporations. We need to enforce consequences and accept the responsibility for our own mess. Our apathy led us here. We need to show our children that we care enough about them to fix this. We need to believe that as individuals working together, we can fix this. Because we can.

Do we even realize we're asleep? And for how long have we been under? America has become the proverbial Rip Van Winkle, asleep for many years while the world passes us by. And while we were dozing, those in power have been busy solidifying their positions. The plan is almost complete. The drug companies overmedicate us, the media conglomerates fool us, and corporate lobbyists manipulate whatever is left. Meanwhile, multinational companies hide their profits overseas, avoiding taxation and responsibility whenever possible. The middle class has been gutted while Congress behaves like kings, impervious to the destruction they have caused.

We all know that our system has been corrupt for some time, but our government took a particularly malevolent turn when the Supreme Court ruled on Citizens United, indignantly crushing any remaining tenants of democracy. This should have been the wake up call for all the Americans who have been complacently sleeping.

The attacks on women's rights this year were the second wake up call -- The snooze alarm in case you missed the first wake-up. Gender discussions have become increasingly one-sided, with jokes about women not holding the "aspirin between their legs" or being advised to remember why you married your husband as he is beating the daylights out of you. I am afraid for our country. I am afraid for my family and I am afraid for myself. If men and women don't rise up, and vote, we soon may fail to recognize the America we once knew and loved. Our country is at risk. Women are being marginalized around the world, including the United States, and no one seems to be screaming in the streets. Not even the men who love us.

I am one of you. I am an American. I am a wife, mother and a woman. I have worked for the last 15 years to raise awareness about the violence against women and children plaguing our great country. It is has been a rough climb; like any hard working American's journey.

When I talk about rape and abuse, I can clear a cocktail party in four minutes. When I have met with state and national leaders to address these critical issues, they have found ways to excuse themselves from working on these uncomfortable topics because it could risk their re-election chances.

For many years I have been a voice for the silent victims, those too broken or afraid to speak for themselves. Once again, I find myself speaking for the broken, begging for all of us to revolt. Election fraud, Citizens United, bribery, and corporate corruption have been gutting our country. It is time to rise up against these infected institutions! We cannot continue to stand idle while human rights are stripped from women.

Ultimately, however, it was my children who influenced me to make the giant leap. Like most parents, my husband and I would not hesitate to give our lives for our children. We are no different than many other parents; except that as an activist I cannot sit still. I completely refuse to have my kids' future curtailed by our generation's failures.

A few weeks ago, I listened to Reverend Matt at St. Marks in Palo Alto, California. He read from an article on Jeremy Lin. It was a terrific story, explaining how Jeremy Lin's life had captured our hearts and imaginations. "What makes Lin so great, is his refusal to be defined by what everyone else thinks he can or cannot do." If we all thought that way, we could take our country back before the 2012 elections. When Reverend Matt finished the sermon, he said, "Do not just sit on the bench."

We fight for a noble cause; to live in the modern world without being subjected to the laws of the dark ages. We fight for our rights; as a nation, as a people, and as women. I for one am tired of old white men who think they can dispense my rights. Father Matt was right. None of us can afford to sit on the bench.

Special thanks to Kunwar Singh, Policy Advisor at Michealene2012.

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