Unlike the Howard Beale character in the classic film Network, who said "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" -- the best thing we can do when we feel like Beale is to run for office or support someone who will better represent our views than the rascals sitting in the local, state or federal legislature.
The good news for democracy is that this is happening all over America as we prepare for the 2006 election season.
The media have generally abdicated their responsibility to write and broadcast meaningfully about the people's business (aka government at all levels), and the electoral process by which the people decide who will govern and how (aka, democracy). But the great news is that there are real issues, robust candidates and popular movements busting out all over with the unabiguous intention of reviving, restoring and renewing electoral democracy after decades of doldrums. It is refreshing and encouraging to see -- even if you won't hear much about it from the kind of corporate news media that so infuriated Howard Beale.
It is with this kind of fighting democratic spirit that Charon Asetoyer, Executive Director of the Native Women's Health Education Resource Center in Lake Andes, South Dakota, has declared her candidacy for the State Senate. Some friends sent me an email and a press release about her candidacy, and I will share it with you on the flip.
Asetoyer has been getting a lot of national press recently. She appeared on the national radio program Democracy Now with Amy Goodman to discuss South Dakota's draconian antibortion legislation -- and efforts to provide abortion services on soveriegn Native American territory. She was also featured in an AP story about intimidation aimed at Native American voters. Last year she was honored by Womens eNews, an international online news service, as one of 21 Leaders for the 21st Century. Asetoyer is running as a prochoice, prowomens health Democrat in a state where the (mostly) Christian Right, Republican political establishment wants to use the new antiaboriton law as a vehicle to try to get Roe vs. Wade overturned.
Well, Charon Asetoyer is one candidate who is not going to take this anymore.
Are you as angry at the South Dakota legislature as we are? In their recent session both Republicans and Democrats alike pretty much told women, kids, and struggling families that they simply don't have any say in how their lives and livelihoods are determined.
Well, South Dakota women are angry too and they're doing something about it - running for the legislature. Gasp, how little-d democratic can they get. Let's help them. Today Charon Asetoyer announced her candidacy for the South Dakota State Senate - her opponent carries a ZERO voting rank for women's health and safety from his previous legislative record.
Charon is a fierce advocate for and defender of Native and women's rights in South Dakota and is a champion of stopping violence against women. Now we need to help her put her knowledge, experience and lifetime dedication to fairness to good use creating laws and policies that will work for ALL South Dakotans - from the SD Senate.
You and I can't run for office in South Dakota, and most of us can't even get there to do voter outreach, but we can make a donation to her campaign and take a small step toward doing something to help the good women of South Dakota by supporting strong, progressive, feminist, peaceloving candidates like Charon for state offices.
Charon can win with less than it takes in Big State races, so your $25 or $50 can do a lot! Join us in sending Charon a check and a thank you for her willingness to step up to this challenge.
Help Charon - and justice - with a contribution to her State Senate campaign:
Campaign for Change/Asetoyer
P.O. Box 472
Lake Andes, SD 57356
Please contribute as soon as possible. South Dakota law limits individual donations to candidates at $250 so this is an easy one.
Thanks for all you do, leader, ally and friend!
Yours in solidarity,
Sally Roesch Wagner
P.S. - We are a small, informal group of women who want to take back our democracy if it takes one state, one great candidate at a time. Charon is just that candidate that we all can get excited about. Fair warning - you'll be hearing from us again. You can join us by adding your name as a signatory - just hit reply and give us your basic info - and/or sending this e-mail to your personal list. Isn't it exciting to actually dream of reclaiming our country, one state legislature at a time.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: March 30, 2006 Contact: Charon Asetoyer
Phone: (605) 487-7072
LAKE ANDES, SD - The Campaign for Change of Lake Andes, South Dakota announces that Charon Asetoyer (D) will run for the seat of State Senate of South Dakota's District 21. The decision to run for State Senate came after South Dakota's 2006 state legislative session.
"The nine bills pertaining to personal health that the legislature attempted to pass during this legislative session were some of the most restrictive and oppressive bills that South Dakota has ever seen. These bills attack the rights of women and families to make private, personal decisions about their health. It is time to stand up and fight to eliminate the diminishment of our personal rights," said Asetoyer. "The abortion ban is only one example of the direction current lawmakers are taking to control the rights of families to make decisions and maintain personal control over private health issues."
Asetoyer is concerned that this is only the beginning of a long line of bills that will erode individual constitutional rights. Native American women are raped and sexually assaulted 3.5 times more than any other race in this country and overall, SD has one of the highest rates of rape in the US. Because violence against women is a primary health, safety and civil rights issue for the women and children of SD it is of utmost importance to protect women and their families, not to take steps to restrict choices and limit access to health care.
"What South Dakota needs are bills that build economic stability, including environmentally sound energy policies, health insurance coverage for all, ensure fair living wages, guaranteed paid maternity leave, accessible child care and provide statewide quality public education. Addressing and eliminating poverty in this state should be our number one priority. Having counties that are continually identified as the poorest in the nation are obvious indicators as to where our priorities should lie," said Asetoyer.
Campaign for Change, PO Box 472. Lake Andes, SD 57356.
KEYWORDS: Charon Asetoyer, South Dakota, Democracy Now
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