This week, the fight between Texan politicians and Texan women over women's rights took a rather absurd turn as the state troopers at the Texas capitol confiscated newly established contraband: tampons and maxi-pads. State officials justified the ban on feminine products in the building as a safety measure to prevent anything from being thrown at the Senators. Understandably, the Senators would prefer not to be hit with tampons or maxi-pads (who would?). But apparently, they are less concerned about being hit with objects that could actually inflict harm, such as bullets, since guns are still permitted in the building. If Texan politicians are so concerned about their physical safety, why is it that the entrance to the gallery is lined with boxes of confiscated tampons instead of confiscated lethal weapons? It's really quite simple: these politicians are less concerned with their physical well being as they are with disenfranchising and dismissing the Texan women. By painting protestors as so crazed, unstable, and violent that they would hurl their necessary feminine goods, these politicians are better able to dismiss these women as members of an "unruly mob" whose voices do not deserve to be heard. The problem is that these women are not a mob of people. They are the people.
Regardless of your position on the strict abortion bill that has sparked such outrage in Texas, these are the indisputable facts: Governor Rick Perry has been pushing forward an extremely harsh abortion bill that would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and force 37 of the 42 abortion clinics in the state to close. Outraged by this attempt to snatch away the rights of women over their own bodies, hundreds of protestors stormed the Senate chamber on June 25 when the bill was sent for a final vote. The noise of these protestors and the 11-hour filibuster of Wendy Davis prevented the state Senate from voting on the bill, and pro-choice Americans across the country mobilized to support the strength and resolve of the women in Texas. The people spoke, and their representatives should have listened. But, instead, these protestors were dismissed as an "unruly mob," and Governor Perry ignored them as he pushed the bill forward to a special Senate session. Now, despite the 2,000 protestors who stormed the Capitol again last night to show their opposition to the bill (after they were robbed of their tampons), the bill has been passed.
Now, since we live in a democracy, this is what should have happened after June 25: the Texan State Senators should have acknowledged that the people of Texas are clearly extremely opposed to this bill and, since they've been elected to represent the people of Texas, should have scratched the bill. Yes, clearly a majority of the Texan state senate is pro-life. But at the end of the day, our representatives' personal views on an issue are irrelevant considering they have elected to represent the people. That is the virtue of a democracy: the people's views are put before those of the individual politicians. But by writing off the people of Texas who oppose the bill as an "unruly mob," and by painting these women as crazed outlaws who would resort to throwing their necessary feminine products at the Senators to make a point, those in charge have cleverly evaded their obligation to listen to these protestors.
So, where do we go from here? On June 26, all advocates for women's rights applauded the women of Texas for their perseverance and protest. But while they should be praised for their efforts, at the end their tactics failed. The bill has been passed. The people of Texas, and of America, have learned the hard way yet again that taking the fight to the streets is ineffective. Instead, it is time to take it to the voting booth. Governor Perry has made it painfully clear that he is pro-life, and his continual re-election indicates that the people of Texas are also pro-life. So, his desire to push through this harsh pro-life bill would seem representative of the wants of the people. But with over 2,000 protestors rushing the Texas capitol in opposition, something doesn't quite add up. Why is such a strict pro-life governor yielding power along with a strict pro-life state Senate over a state that is slowly proving to be pro-choice? Because in the most recent election, only 43.73 percent of registered voters showed up at the voting booth.
If we want to see the change we so strongly desire in government to be a reality, if we want the policies we support to pass and those we oppose to be struck down, then we need to vote for those who will best represent us. In a poll I took of students at Boston University last October before the 2012 election, 22 percent of students polled shared that they would not be voting for one of three reasons: 1) "I don't live in a swing state, so my state will definitely go Red or Blue regardless of my vote" 2) "The corporations back Mitt Romney, so obviously he's going to win regardless of my vote" 3) "Government is too corrupt, I'd rather abstain from taking part in it."
I responded that perhaps if 100 percent of registered voters voted instead of the 58.2 percent of registered voters who did in America in 2012, states would be less predictable and would be more prone to flipping. Obviously the statement about Romney and corporations turned out to be irrelevant given the outcome of the election. And lastly, yes there are more than enough arguments and pieces of evidence that point to our government being corrupt. But, it's the only system we have. And not participating is not going to change it. In fact, not voting just gives more power to the corrupt politicians in charge. If you want change, if you want your voice to be heard, if you don't want your views to be dismissed as mob mentality, then you need to get involved and get to the voting booth.