Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thanksgiving week 5: Fresh Beginnings

This morning there is a fresh layer of snow on the ground. We had a slight dusting a few weeks ago, but this is the first real snow of the season.
As is the case with many bush towns, Kotzebue has a lot of STUFF around. People save everything (usually in their yards) because you never know when you might need it, and it's expensive to ship things out, so if it's already here you definitely don't want to throw it away. In addition, many houses are made with plywood, sheet metal and tar paper. I joked to my husband last spring that you know you might be in a bush town if you look at a house and can't tell whether it's occupied or set for demolition... A significant number of houses really do look that way.
In short, this is not a pretty town.
Until it snows.
Snow covers all the ugly things with a gentle blanket of white, and suddenly my neighbor's front yard junk heap is just a white mound... the ugliness is gone. (Well, it's not all gone, but it's going, and a little more snow will finish the job...if the mess is big enough, these things can take time.)

This is 1 of our 4 wood piles. The green shed there is also full (about 2 more piles worth).
As I looked out the window this morning I thought of the election results last night. Months of intensity, anger, and even sheer hatred all led up to one night of high emotions: elation for some, depression or resignation for others...I suspect it's some kind of mix for most. All the ugliness--theoretically--is over now. The results are what they are, and whether we like it or not, the decisions have been made. Now we all have a chance to start over fresh, with a new congress, a newly (re)chosen president, and a variety of new laws chosen by the will of the people. I hope we can move forward gracefully and kindly, in spite of whatever personal feelings might be hiding under the snow.

Today I am grateful
  1. that the election is over. I hope that the hatred and anger will calm now as well.
  2. to have the right to vote. It's only been 90 years that women have had that right in this country.
  3. that all the candidates who made significant rape-accepting comments during this campaign (such as that "some girls rape so easy" or that "if it's a legitimate rape the female body can shut [conception] down" or that "having a baby out of wedlock is similar to rape") were DEFEATED. As Stephen Colbert said, yes, abortion is a complex issue and we don't all agree on it. But I thought we agreed on rape. Yes indeed, the people have spoken. We DO agree on rape.
  4. for New Hamshire making another first: they were first to ratify the constitution (earning their slogan as "the first state"), 4 years ago they were the first state to have a female majority in their state senate, and last night they were the first ever state to elect a completely female federal delegation and governor.
  5. that we have the highest ever percentage of women in congress. 17% was our prior high. As of today, there are 19 women in the senate (with two more races still too close to call). As I explained to a friend, I have never made a political decision based on the candidates sex or race. I have always looked at issues and voting records. I'm not saying that women are superior either. I'm not saying they should run it all... I'm saying they have not been equally represented, and I think it *affects how our legislature functions, so I am happy to see an increasing percentage of women in these roles.
  6. that Elizabeth Warren got into the Senate. She is awesome. She is one of the few people I've ever seen that I think may be able to remain unsullied by politics. She has a beautiful track record of truthfulness and wisdom (she's a big proponent of fiscal responsibility, and warned the last administration of the impending financial crisis before it happened but they ignored her). It's just encouraging to see somebody honest slide in from behind and win a big race.
  7. and in my one partisan statement of the week, I am very very glad that Barack Obama won.
*How does the number of women in congress affect legislative function? In two ways:
Firstly, 51% of the population is female, but less than 20% of congress is, and obviously that's seriously skewed. Now I grant that either sex could represent either sex, but I think there is still something to women being SO underrepresented. It means that women's concerns (such as maternity leave or maternal mortality rates) are essentially ignored by our congress. Because there are not enough people there who care enough to do anything about them. (The USA has a pathetic record on maternity leave compared to all other first world countries, and our maternal mortality rate is next in line with Albania and other eastern European countries...not what it should be for a country with the most money and the best doctors...)
Secondly--I know this is a stereotype but there IS something to it--men tend to want to win, women tend to be willing to compromise for the common good. In other words, a higher percentage of women in congress may help with bipartisanship and help do away with this gridlock...
So that is why I care about there being more women in congress. :)


Michele said...

I love that JFK quote. I wish more in office would listen and act on it!

Joan Ark said...

I love your blog!

A writer's nakama

Baby Making Mama said...

It's been so soooooo long Jenni!! How in the world are you? Glad to see you're still keeping things going over here.

Loved this breakdown of what you're thankful for. Boy were the elections so heated. Facebook was really scaring me with the things I was seeing people post. Was worried some friendships would be lost. But all is over and ok!

Loved all of your points and comments on the women taking office. I'm also very happy about that.

Hope you are managing to stay warm with all that snow! Xoxo.

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