08/31/2012 07:36 pm ET Updated Oct 25, 2012

Women, Choice and Power

Turns out, women are a key voting bloc in the upcoming election. It's up to us to demand credible commitments that address our concerns, as we get each other engaged and voting.

While this election offers women a clear choice, polls show the two parties running neck and neck. Here's the picture heading into the political conventions:

The Republican Party is fueled with unprecedented gushers of corporate cash, and draws political life support from the medieval wing of several fundamentalist religions, whose fantastical beliefs about women's biology are rooted in their ironclad devotion to patriarchy. The Republican platform would make criminals of the 30 percent of American women who've had an abortion (including me, once because of a fetal anomaly diagnosed in my second trimester).

But the Democratic Party is also overly dependent on funding fron the parasitic finance sector. It is reaching back to the Lily Ledbetter Equal Pay Act of 2009 to symbolize its commitment to women's economic empowerment. It depends for political fuel in no small part on the indisputable fact that the Republicans are profoundly scary.

It's not enough to debunk the Republicans' lies, or to point out that they rely on stoking fear and anger. Some recent polls of women who are not politically active show that they do react viscerally to the demeaning insults slung by decision-makers who snatch away their birth control and penalize them for their reproductive decisions. But many are living difficult lives, bounded by pressing financial hardship. One quote: "I'm happy this month that I haven't had to sell plasma to feed my children."

So here are some things to call for in Charlotte:

1. An ironclad commitment to protecting and improving Social Security and Medicare. These two programs form the bedrock of women's financial security as we age. They are under attack explicitly by the Republicans. And too frequently for comfort, some prominent Dems also slide periodically into lip synching lies about the need to reform these "entitlements." In fact, Social Security faces no problems. The Affordable Care Act, which Paul Ryan has voted repeatedly to repeal, extends Medicare's financial health, in contrast to Ryan's proposal to privatize it. Let's hear Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid and future House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirm that the programs are solvent, and that they will not compromise on preserving and improving these programs.

2. It's great that Nancy Keenan of NARAL and Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood will speak. Women's rights to make their own decisions about their reproductive health are fundamental to our economic and personal wellbeing, including access to legal, affordable birth control and abortion. Words of support from the occasionally equivocal Dept. of Health and Human Services and the Surgeon General would be significant.

3. Finally: Lots of women. On the podium, speaking, in charge, active, visible, and vocal. Women of all races, and for that matter, candidates for many races. We know who the top ticket nominees are. Let's give a boost to the EMILY's List all-star roster of pro-choice Democratic women candidates, people like Maggie Hassan for governor of New Hampshire, Congressional candidates like Grace Meng, Christie Vilsack, Val Demings, and Tammy Duckworth, and Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin for Senate, and of course, incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill. Since Canadian-born former governor Jennifer Granholm can't run for president, nominate her now for a Cabinet post, if she wants one, and give her air time.

Women will make the difference in this election. We are going to write checks, emails and op eds, as well as getting out the vote. We have power. Let's recognize and exercise it.