As November 6 draws near, we’ve heard plenty about the “pink wave” that’s coming our way. But these midterms are poised to be historic not just in terms of the record number of women candidates running for office, but also because of the huge swaths of women who’ll *hopefully* be heading to the polls to cast their votes for representatives they believe in.
The majority of these women, simply because the majority of women in America are now unmarried, are single. Fifty-eight million strong, they make up 26 percent of the voting-age population, so there’s little argument that their votes can make a decisive impact. And despite the stereotype that they are storming the polls based only on “women’s issues,” this election shows, more than ever before, that neither single women nor women overall are a monolith. There are a wide range of reasons why they choose to vote.
Protecting LGBTQ+ Rights
Profession: Retail professional
Location: San Francisco
Political affiliation: Democrat
“I’m part of the [LGBTQ] community; I identify as bisexual. Right after I publicly came out, the Pulse shooting [happened], so for me, that was a big wake-up call in terms of how the rest of the country treated the [LGBTQ community]. They were a lot more extreme than I thought. I knew [LGBTQ rights] were a fight, but [Pulse] reminded me how much of a fight there is to be had. Our current administration has a very narrow and dangerous view when it comes to LGBTQ rights, so right now we’re in danger of going backward instead of continuing to move forward.
For me, caring about the LGBTQ community is a human rights issue, and I think other people don’t see if that way. When the Supreme Court ruled that [same-sex] couples could get married, everyone was like, ‘You guys are good, right? Your problems are solved.’ But there’s so much nuance and so many smaller issues that are not solved by being able to get married. And that was never the be-all, end-all. There’s deeper work that’s more pressing. And with the new New York Times article that came out about transgender people [being erased by the Trump administration], this is something that’s clearly going to be impacted by who wins the midterms.”
“We have to talk about reproductive justice around in this country and how it’ll disproportionately affect women of color and other women who are already on the margins. That why we need to vote.”
Fighting For Reproductive Justice
Profession: Political organizer
Location: Washington, D.C.
Political affiliation: Liberal
“I think reproductive rights are a basic autonomy issue; I want to make decisions about my body that are best for my body, and I want other people to be able to do the same. Right now, reproductive justice is talked about in very black and white terms; for example, you [aren’t supposed to be] be Catholic and pro-choice or Republican and pro-choice. I think those sort of binaries are very counterproductive, especially in today’s political sphere.
As a white woman with financial means, I’ll always have access to reproductive healthcare — abortion in particular, if that was ever something I needed — but [we have to talk about] reproductive justice around in this country and how it’ll disproportionately affect women of color and other women who are already on the margins. That why we need to vote. Voting for people who think of women as autonomous beings is very important to me.
Yes, every member of the House and many members of the Senate are up for re-election, but really look at the down-ballot races for state seats and governor. Those are the people that actually have the most impact on your day-to-day life. If you think Roe v. Wade is codified into law and that’s not changing, it might not be; we don’t know. But your state government and state Supreme Court can still protect you.”
Profession: Medical student
Location: Durham, North Carolina
Political affiliation: Libertarian/Republican
“I don’t love the way Obamacare (also known as the Affordable Care Act) is structured right now. The premiums have gotten so high over the last couple of years, and I don’t think it’s sustainable. I’d love people to find a way to make it cost less for the government and the people who need it. A couple of politicians are trying to create some reforms, but they botched it last year when trying to work on it. We just need something more sustainable than what’s currently in place.
Right before I went to medical school, I got this book that was essentially healthcare 101 about what the policies are and what different policies would mean, and I found that there are not only a lot of people who are uninsured, but there’s also not a lot of incentive to get insured, especially if you’re a healthy person. So there’s been this bubble of people who are getting insured because they’re sick, but only sick people are paying and the cost keeps rising. It’s getting to a point where they’re essentially paying for healthcare themselves. That doesn’t incentivize people who are healthy to help with those costs, because the high premiums are a barrier, and the penalty for the individual mandate doesn’t exceed the personal cost of just waiting until you’re sick to get into the system. I don’t know how to fix [healthcare], but I’d love to find ways to get healthy people into the system to keep the costs down.
Another issue is that there’s a huge reliance on emergency departments versus primary care in rural areas. There are a lot of states that are allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to practice independently in rural areas; North Carolina, where I live, is not one of them. I’m supporting legislators who want to change that and make it possible to get more providers in rural areas so they can get people help before it gets worse.”
Saving The Environment
Profession: Graduate student
Location: Jacksonville, Florida
Political affiliation: Moderate
“The issue of the environment is really important to me, because I want to protect the natural beauties of the world. For example, in Florida, where I live, I want to enjoy things we take for granted right now, like the beach, the Everglades, the coastline. Much of that area is at or below sea level, so it’s in danger.
[Democratic] Florida Senator Bill Nelson is on the Oceans Committee in the Senate. He has been working to protect Florida’s coastlines from oil rigs and protect Florida’s natural resources. But his opponent, Republican Rick Scott, could become our next senator, and he doesn’t believe in climate change. I’m really concerned about that, especially with all of the storms coming through and the rapidly increasing temperatures. I’m interested in keeping someone in office who’s working to keep people aware of the dangers we face and [who wants to] keep Florida as clean as possible.
It’s important for everyone to care about environmental issues, because they affect everyone. If we care about the future of people and our country, we really need to think about the world they’re going to be living in. Are they going to be able to go outside? Everyone deserves to live in a hospitable environment.”
People who deserve rights like any other American will lose their livelihoods and their right to a life well-lived. Simply put, there will be people who die.
Focusing On Disability Rights
Location: Western New York, New York
Political affiliation: Democrat
“What’s driving me to the polls is an urgency to stop rollbacks on the rights of people in marginalized communities. We have to start with these elections to try and reverse all of the terrible change that has been made already.
There are proposed rollbacks to the ADA (American Disabilities Act) wherein the current administration wants to further extend and complicate people with disabilities reporting inaccessible buildings and stores, so much so that there is no guarantee that once you report something anyone has to make the changes you’re requesting.
I can’t really say for sure what is at stake, because it’s not like the Democrats don’t have their own issues, but if the Republicans remain in control, people who deserve rights like any other American will lose their livelihoods and their right to a life well-lived. Simply put, there will be people who die.
As it stands now, there is not enough tangible change, but with the continued protests and voices being boosted on social media and at the polls, I think that change is inevitable.