I voted yesterday, and as I did, I thanked the older folks at the table who were taking my information, checking it in their computer, and giving me the authority to vote. I thanked them because of their time and patriotism to sit there and help all of us vote. And I wondered: who in our generation is preparing to step up and take this right into their own hands? Who will work the polling booths after this generation has gone on?
Please vote…read the two notes someone sent me today, and you will be more compelled than ever to do so.
Thank you for sending this, I’m sending it around to everyone (not just women). As I’ve observed the folly in Iraq, I’ve felt from the beginning that our efforts there would create more harm than good, because Deomcracy is not something that can be gift-wrapped and bestowed as a present upon a nation. It must be desired, craved, so deeply in the hearts of the people concerned that they are willing to die for it. If it is given without being hard-won (as the USA has tried to do a number of times since the dawn of the 20th century), it fails quickly. Democracy is a way of life, however imperfect, that is difficult and challenging because its success requires/demands that its participants (i.e., us, the voting public) pay attention, evaluate the performance of our chosen leaders, express our opinions in a constructive way and exercise our power to either continue their service or terminate them. The sad truth is that most of our leaders would have been fired long ago from any pri vate sector employment, but they are allowed to continue in their governing posts due largely to the indifference of the voting public, many of whom find ‘more important’ things to do on election day. There is NOTHING more important to do on Election Day than to get our bodies and brains to the polls and VOTE.
Why is Election Day held in early November? Because the harvest was over, and wagon-loads full of farmers could take an entire day off work to ride into town together for the expressed purpose of casting their votes in the elections for the coming year. Don’t tell me, with all our modern conveniences, that we ‘just can’t get there.’ I can live the next day without my dry-cleaning. I can eat a sandwich en route to the polls. And the kids can still make soccer practice. Or if they don’t, they’ll get a clue that voting is important. Go VOTE.
As for the misgiving that “my vote doesn’t count,” I would remind our entire population that the American Revolution succeeded with only 5% public support. The rest of the colonial population were happy to (or afraid not to) let Britain continue as their sovereign. And by our bizarre 18th century efforts, we inspired other nations to throw off the proverbial yoke of monarchical/imperial oppression, including France, India, Russia, China. No route to freedom is perfect, and the journeys are certainly never finished. For the moment we sleep, freedom can be taken away. Not always forcibly, often slowly, sweetly and cleverly. Let us not be lulled into a false, ‘happy’ sleep (e.g., via nice cold beer and cable TV). Stay alert, and do not let the loud pundits form our opinions for us. Dwight D. Eisenhower said very soberly during his presidency, “The only thing necessary for evil to succeed is for good [people] to do nothing.” Pay attention, make informed choices. And pay honor to those who fought and died that we might have the privilege of voicing our opinions. Go VOTE.
Blessings to all,
HOW WE WOMEN GOT THE RIGHT TO VOTE:
The women were innocent and defenseless. And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden’s blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of “obstructing sidewalk traffic.”
They beat Lucy Burn, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air. They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.
Thus unfolded the Night of Terror on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson’s White House for the right to vote.
For weeks, the women’s only water came from an open pail. Their food–all of it colorless slop–was infested with worms. When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.
So, refresh my memory. Some women won’t vote this year because–why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn’t matter? It’s raining?
Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO’s movie “Iron Jawed Angels” It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say.
I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder. All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.
My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women’s history, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry. She was–with herself. “One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,” she said. “What would those women think of the way I use–or don’t use–my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.” The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her “all over again.”
HBO will run the movie periodically before releasing it on video and DVD. I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum. I want it shown on Bunko night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn’t our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order.
It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse.? Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn’t make her crazy. The doctor admonished the men: “Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.”
Please pass this on to all the women you know. We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women.