Susan B. Anthony: Suffrage and Equality, and How Far We Still Need To Go

Standard

​One hundred ninety-nine years ago today, Susan B. Anthony was born into a Quaker family in Adams, Massachusetts. Her activism began early at her family’s hearth as the entire clan was involved in the anti-slavery movement as well as temperance movements all throughout their lives.

Her birth year of 1820 was coincidentally one hundred years before the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, was ratified.

In 1868, she, and her longtime close friend and women’s rights collaborator Elizabeth Cady Stanton published a weekly newspaper called The Revolution, focusing on women’s rights and calling for women’s suffrage as well as highlighting other opinion and discussion pieces in relation to suffrage as well as politics and finance. It’s motto was: “Men, their rights and nothing more: women, their rights and nothing less.”

I think we’re seeing a resurgence of this attitude if not the outright message. Coming to a head in 2017 with the #metoo movement, women are finding their voices and speaking out when they feel ignored or condescended to, which happens in all walks of personal and professional life.

When the 15th Amendment was proposed and ratified (giving former male slaves the right to vote), Anthony was firmly against it, feeling that African Americans and women should receive voting rights simultaneously rather than continue to give men, regardless of race more rights than women.

In 1872, she brought her Declaration of Rights for Women to the nation’s centennial in Philadelphia, wanting to share it at the official celebrations. Permission was denied, but Susan B. Anthony, leading a group of five women interrupted the speaker and handed the Declaration to the him. Leaving, she handed out copies to the crowd, and then found a public space nearby and read it to the crowd that had formed around her.

1872 was also the year in which Susan B. Anthony cast her vote. In doing so, she was arrested and brought to trial. Prior to the trial, she went around the county doing speaking engagements. Her speech was titled, “Is it a crime for a US citizen to vote?” At her trial, she was found guilty and ordered to pay a fine. She refused. Instead of the judge holding her in contempt, he declined any further action, and the fine has never been paid.

‘Failure is impossible’ quickly became the watchword for the women’s movement” according to her Wikipedia article. Those three words were taken from comments made by Susan B. Anthony at her eighty-sixth birthday celebration a few weeks before her death:

“There have been others also just as true and devoted to the cause — I wish I could name every one — but with such women consecrating their lives, failure is impossible!”

She and Stanton were the first to lead the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), and after the ratification of the 19th Amendment, the organization’s name was changed to the League of Women Voters, still a formidable voice for voting rights.

In addition to her house in Rochester, NY named as an historic landmark and her gravesite visited on many Election Days, most especially in 2016 when Democrat Hillary Clinton ran as the first woman nominated by a major party, she was also commemorated on a US postal stamp in 1936 and is the first woman to have her likeness on a US coin when her image was depicted on the dollar coin, first minted and released in 1979.

Commemorative Stamp 1936, US Postal Service. Public Domain. (c)2019

Susan B. Anthony Dollar Coin, 1979. Public Domain. (c)2019

In reading the title of her speech: Is it a crime for a US citizen to vote? it made me realize that as far as we’ve come, we still haven’t come all that far. We saw in 2016, an amount of voter suppression that many didn’t recognize in prior years. Some of it was so obvious as to be racist and sexist that it boggles my mind that it was allowed by officials and ignored by the media. The questions asked of Secretary Clinton, and the ridiculously higher expectations and almost impossible to meet standards expected of her in relation to her male opponents was embarrassing. 

Even more embarrassing is the way the media is currently treating the four women candidates for the Democratic nomination. I hear about Sherrod Brown’s ties to working class families, and reflection on Joe Biden’s status as elder statesman, and they haven’t even decided if they are running for 2020. However, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobucher are being lambasted for listening to rap music, eating fried chicken, mocked for family lore, and treatment of her subordinates instead of where they stand on the issues. Is the idea that Amy Klobucher expects her staff to live up to her expectations more problematic than a President who lies constantly about everything, even the insignificant? Bill Clinton played the saxophone on television, Mitt Romney has a car elevator in one of his houses, former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert is in jail for sexual misconduct, but no, let’s find out if Amy raises her voice trying to get things done. Journalism is in a tailspin, and I thought we were, if not past this sexism then at least pretending to be fair in public.

Also standing out significantly is the Georgia governor’s race in 2018, the Voter ID laws that disproportionately affected the Native American population in North Dakota, also in 2018, closing polling places, shortening voting times, which thereby increased lines and eliminated the working class who can’t afford to leave work early or go in late. Deciding that polling places didn’t meet accessibility requirements for the general election even though there were no problems during the primaries, and those polling places that didn’t meet the requirements were in primarily African-American districts (in Georgia, where the Secretary of State who is in charge of those things was also running for governor. He won. Big surprise there.) There is still a congressional seat in North Carolina that has not been certified because of blatant fraud.

So, how do we combat this?

Should Election Day be a national holiday so more people can vote without losing time and money from work? Why do certain segments of political partisanship want less people to vote, not more despite their being eligible and wanting to vote?

Should we have a standard set of questions to address to each office-seeker when they’re being introduced as a presidential candidate?

Why do we continue to allow the Senate Majority Leader to lie about what the American people want (as shown in poll after poll), and allow him to not bring bills to the floor that have passed the House?

Why do we allow the White House and the President’s enablers in Congress to block investigations into the Russian interference in the 2016 and 2018 elections? I would hope that no one wants a foreign power controlling our votes and who is elected to our national offices, but it seems that some of those politicians blocking access and investigatory avenues are dominated by their monetary reliance on that same foreign power. This is wrong. When will they come to their senses? When will their patriotism extend to real American sovereignty and equal rights instead of their false flag patriotism?

How do we also encourage voting participation?

Why do some from one side think it should be harder to vote, whether because of economics or transportation or accessibility?

This needs to be addressed before the 2020 election. 2020 will celebrate the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment. We should come together for a comprehensive overhaul of the registration and voting process to make it accessible to all eligible voters. If we wait much longer, we won’t have anything worth voting for.

TODAY IS THE DAY! VOTE!

Standard

On Instagram, I’ve spent every day posting a political pin, and today is the final one. Scroll through and see what I chose to share in the last days towards this Election Day. When you’re finished looking and thinking about and commenting, head over to your polling place and VOTE. This is the most consequential and important election of our lifetimes. I just heard Dan Pfeiffer say on The Axe Files that young people felt secure and comfortable under President Obama, they thought they were safe and things were going to be okay – the President has this. Well, I’m 51, and I felt the same way. I was comfortable not paying attention to the minutiae of politics and political discourse for the first time in my life, and now I’m terrified. For my children, yes, but for myself as well. What have we allowed to happen in the last two years?!

VOTE

I Will Vote 11.6.18 from Penzeys Spices. (c)2018

From Star Wars: A Woman’s Place is in the Resistance. In honor of Carrie Fisher.(c)2018

The Liberty Bell. Philadelphia, PA. Remember our history. (c)2018

Equality Includes Everyone. Everyone Equals Everyone. (c)2018

Nevertheless, She Persisted. In honor of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Shethority, Me Too, Times Up. (c)2018

3 pins from Penzeys Spices. Kind heart, Soul (of America), Embrace Hope. (c)2018

A riff on Cyndi Lauper’s hit song, Girls Just Want to Have Fun. (c)2018

Created Equal pin that my son picked up for me on his school trip to Gettysburg. He knows me. (c)2018

NoRA, March for Our Lives. (c)2018

I couldn’t get a pussy hat, so I got a pink pussy cat pin instead. (c)2018

The truth. (c)2018

Looking back on someone who was thought to be a not so good president, but he really wasn’t that bad. He got a bad wrap. The current president won’t have that benefit – he’s the worst. But…Ulysses S. Grant won the Civil War, and wasn’t a bad president, and was actually a good person. Read Ron Chernow’s biography. (c)2018

Science Matters. (c)2018

Be Peace from the Dominican Sisters of Peace. (c)2018

Children First. Education by Educators.(c)2018

Facts Matter. From the Newseum in Washington, DC.(c)2018

Votes for Women. A gift from my friend from the Molly Brown House and Museum in Denver, CO. Suffragettes – votes for women and voting for women. (c)2018

LGBT+ Equality. (c)2018

I can’t even. I don’t remember what the news of the day was that made me post this, but it was probably awful and immigration or free press related. (c)2018

Education by Educators. Odyssey of the Mind in NY. (c)2018

Embrace Hope from Penzeys Spices. Always a good message. (c)2018

So simple, and yet so much meaning. Women’s rights, women’s equality, reproductive rights, ERA. Women’s rights are human rights. (c)2018

I VOTED! Now you. (c)2018

The Election of 2016

Standard

​I’m stunned. I’m also shocked and saddened. Yesterday morning, I awoke at 6:45am so I could take my daughter with me to vote before she had to go to school. We talked about the ballot, why I was voting for some people, why I wasn’t voting for others. We whispered so we didn’t disturb or bother anyone else voting at the same time. I took pictures of both the ballot and she and the ballot and before and after pictures before we left the house and after our election day breakfast at McDonald’s. I was sure that we had just voted for the first woman president. To be honest, that was a bonus. I was voting for Hillary Clinton, someone who I had admired and watched since I was out of college. I learned so much about her over the years; what she believed in, what she did and would do as a public servant.

When she became my senator, I knew she’d work her ass off, and she did.

She was a fantastic Secretary of State.

In 2000, I voted for Al Gore, John Kerry in 2004, President Obama in 2008 and 2012. I voted FOR them, not against their opponents. I did not want George Bush, John McCain, or Mitt Romney to be President, but I knew in my heart that if they became president, they would do their best to bring honor to the office. I am not so sure about that this year.

I can’t express what I’m feeling. I’m usually asleep when my two children get on the bus for school. This morning, I made sure I was awake so I would have time to hug them and talk to them about the election results. They were both worried. My son went to bed with a headache, and my daughter asked if she would be forced to wear a hood. Their reactions did not come from us directly, but from listening to Mr. Trump’s rhetoric for the past eighteen months.

I hugged them, and told them not to worry and we wold get through this. It would be okay. The don’t know because they’re too young, but we’ve been here before, and we’ve gotten through it.

This one is a little different.

I never thought I’d see a President endorsed so heartily by the KKK in my adult lifetime. I never thought we’d elect an open racist and misogynist in my adult lifetime, certainly not in the modern age. The VP, a heartbeat away from the Oval Office is a proponent of gay conversion therapy, funerals for fetuses while limiting the rights of the women carrying them.

This isn’t partisan to me. This is insane.

I had planned on this post being one of my reflections on 50. It was going to be about politics and my lifelong love of politics, but I can’t write about that and ignore what’s just happened this morning. I think I need to take a couple days away. There are some posts scheduled in my queue that will post automatically, and hopefully, I’ll be able to continue my 50 reflections, but today…today truly is a time for mourning.

Crime will go up.

Abortions will go up.

Hate crimes will go up.

Homelessness will go up.

Unemployment will go up.

If you look at the statistics over the last century, I think you’ll find that this is what happens when Republicans are in the White House.

On a personal note, my husband will probably lose his job, which will have financial ramifications for years to come.

This wasn’t one election. This was a lifetime. This will affect those not born yet.

We, as a country need to reflect on the last year; the attacks on women, the attacks on journalism and journalists, the attacks on Muslims and Latinos especially, and the continuing stereotyping of African Americans who according to Trump live in hell and the inner cities. I’ll have to mention that to my suburban neighbors.

We need to look at who we are as a country, as a people, and decide where we want to go from here. We need to pray and meditate on what is going on, in whatever way that each of us does. We just decided that the most qualified person in the last half century still isn’t good enough; we want the reality TV star, who may have only won because his campaign manager took away his Twitter and the FBI Director lit a fire on a burned out shell.

Every. Vote. Counts.

Al Gore told you.

Bernie Sanders told you.

Joe Biden and Barack Obama told you.

When will we listen?

When will we do what’s best for all of us, and not just a select few? For some reason, they think that a thirty year public servant is more elitist than a millionaire who lives in a penthouse and wouldn’t know the price of milk if he were standing in the grocery store.

I don’t know what else to say.

It’s too much to take in. It’s only been real for about two hours for me. I went to bed at 2:15am, thinking there was some hope. I woke up knowing it was over, not wanting to know the outcome, but needing to know so I could tell my kids in the morning that it would be alright.

Voting and Food

Standard

​Today is Election Day, and while this election has been one for the history books in more ways than one, Election Day does have a rich history and tradition.

Many are calling for a national holiday, so everyone is able to vote on Election Day. I agree with this, but having a federal or state holiday doesn’t always ensure that everyone has the day off. Retail people are not off on most federal holidays as well as police and fire, so it’s not a sure thing.

When I was in elementary school, schools were closed on Election Day. The schools were the polling places, and it was better for everyone if kids weren’t disrupting the march of democracy. Even though we were home, we had a regular babysitter, so my parents still worked during their regular work hours and would need to vote afterwards. Not voting was never an option.

Coming home from work with little time for kids and dinner and getting out the vote, we often had a simple dinner, much the same when my brother and sister had their weekly allergy shots appointment. A simple dinner consisted of tuna fish sandwiches, egg salad for everyone but me, hot dogs, macaroni and cheese or if we were really lucky, McDonald’s.

In small towns across the country, food and voting go hand in hand. Just this week, I’ve seen signs and advertisements for a roast beef dinner, lasagna, and an apple pie festival. In the past, I’ve seen pot roast dinners, BBQ, and chili cook-offs, not to mention school and church bake sales to raise money for clubs and whatnot. 

How many ways do we have to encourage people to get out, drop their apathy and vote. Apparently, food is number one. 

This year, there is a lot of talk of taco trucks on every corner if a certain candidate wins, and what better day for tacos on Election Day Tuesday to make it a Taco Tuesday.

My family will probably get pizza so we can watch the returns late into the night.

Personally, I love the I voted stickers, but they usually don’t have those when I go. A chocolate chip cookie after voting wouldn’t be unwelcome.