Politics today makes me feel much like the people on the wing of the aircraft that crashed in the Hudson River last week. Teetering. Tottering. Right wing. Left wing. Trying to find a balance and a quick rescue by a political philosophy with which I can identify.
I consider myself a progressive woman. I work on behalf of families and children, personally and professionally. It wasn't long ago that I ran for political office in West Virginia and lost by 11 votes, and I lost all interest in running again.
However, during the campaign, I received a letter that stumped me. It was from a group called E.M.I.L.Y.'s List. I wondered who E.M.I.L.Y. was, and I was surprised to discover that E.M.I.L.Y. was not a "who," but an acronym for "Early Money Is Like Yeast." It helps the dough rise, or make your campaign stronger.
E.M.I.L.Y.'s List is a political action committee started by Ellen Malcolm in 1984. According to its Web site, E.M.I.L.Y.'s mission is "dedicated to building a progressive America by electing pro-choice Democratic women to office."
In short, the letter had offered campaign financial support, "dough," in exchange for promoting abortion rights.
I decided, "No trade." This past Sunday, I was awakened out of a drowsy stupor by a CNN broadcast, which featured portions of E.M.I.L.Y.'s 2009 inaugural luncheon.
The luncheon boasted a bevy of confident, articulate women, many of whom are President-elect Barack Obama's choices for plum political appointments. The more I listened, the more I became aware that E.M.I.L.Y. had grown from not only a pro-choice organization, but also to an elephant (pardon the pun) of global proportions.
E.M.I.L.Y. was now a comprehensive women's rights organization purporting to represent women like me. But it doesn't.
How did equal pay for equal jobs get slipped into E.M.I.L.Y.'s agenda? Of course I believe in equal pay for a woman doing the same job as a man, but it's the slick and savvy work of Malcolm and others like her who pushed the envelope.
So how did E.M.I.L.Y. become one of America's prestigious, political powerhouses talking for women like me?
Apparently, in June 2002, then Michigan Attorney General Jennifer Granholm delivered a speech at an E.M.I.L.Y. majority conference. According to emilyslist.org, this is what Granholm said.
Granholm said, "E.M.I.L.Y. is every woman who has ever sat at a business meeting while someone else took credit for her good work. E.M.I.L.Y. is every young professional who's been told to wait her turn and every seasoned one who's been told she still has to pay her dues.
"E.M.I.L.Y. is every working mom who's managed to balance a checkbook, who's managed a clean house, a corporate budget and a 12-year-old's basketball tournament in one day.
"E.M.I.L.Y. is every stay-at-home mom who has ever been asked, 'No, I mean, what do you do? What do you really do?'
"She is every woman who's ever had to defend her right to be pro-choice. She's every woman who's ever had to explain her choice not to have a child.
"She's every woman who has ever demanded a raise because she's been doing the same work as the man in the next cubicle for the same number of years, and she's still not getting the same pay.
"She's every woman who has ever wondered why the company won't cover her contraceptives, but will cover that same guy's Viagra.
"E.M.I.L.Y. is every working mom who has ever fought for quality day care or family leave time. She is every woman who has given up a single day of vacation to care for a sick child or a sick parent.
"E.M.I.L.Y. is every girl in every classroom whose hand was still in the air after the boys got their questions answered. She's every athlete who's ever been told, 'She throws like a girl.' She's every candidate who's ever been asked how she can run for office and have a family at the same time.
"She is every African American woman who has had to work three times as hard to be considered as good as her white male colleague. She is every Jewish woman who has ever been called a princess. She is every Hispanic woman who has been asked how long her family has been in this country.
"She is every woman who has been called too soft or too strong or too aggressive or too nice or too ambitious to get the job done. She is every woman who has ever been measured against a glossy picture in a magazine.
"E.M.I.L.Y. is the seamstress who has sewn the graduation gowns for years but has never worn one. E.M.I.L.Y. is every woman who helped set up this room today and who will clean up after we leave and that same woman who only wants her daughters to dream big dreams, because E.M.I.L.Y. knows that young girls cannot be what they cannot see. She is you. She may be your next governor she may be your next vice-president ... she may be your next president.
"And E.M.I.L.Y. doesn't get mad - she gets elected!"
This is what I have to say to E.M.I.L.Y.'s List, Malcolm and Granholm: You are not me. You have spun E.M.I.L.Y. into an organization using women's issues as a bait and switch tactic. How can candidates not respond to you? E.M.I.L.Y. represents an attitude of political correctness, a philosophical view and a social umbrella for women, rather than a science of common sense and diverse viewpoints.
Life begins at conception. American women need to know how this organization has advanced, and I would encourage you to watch the Power to Change luncheon on www.emilyslist.org.
To paraphrase several of Father John Bateman's comments during this past Sunday's sermon, when do we call a person a person? When they have arms and legs? Some persons have no arms and legs, but they're still people. When they have consciousness? Some persons are not conscious, but they're still people. When they can survive on their own? Some people can't survive on their own, but they're still persons.
E.M.I.L.Y. has managed to exclude Americans like me under the guise of inclusion and women's sufferage. E.M.I.L.Y. has managed to exclude pro-choice viewpoints of Judeo-Christians and Democratic politicians under the guise of progressive politics.
American Democrats like me simply aren't in the "progressive group." You, E.M.I.L.Y., have managed to set yourself above the law of God and set yourself apart from millions of Americans who attend churches, which sanctify life. Members of E.M.I.L.Y. are able to speak because their mothers gave them that gift of life.
As President-elect Barack Obama is sworn in today, I pray for his courage, his tremendous ability to attend to the tiniest details, to respond appropriately; at the least, let's pray he maintains current laws protecting the unborn. Please let your elected leaders know that E.M.I.L.Y.'s pro-abortion views do not represent all progressive American women.
Linda Kay Goodwin, RN, BSN, MBA, is a nationally award-winning columnist and recipient of the American Academy of Nursing Media Award for Excellence in the presentation of Health Care Information to the Public.