"There never will be complete equality until women themselves help to make laws and elect lawmakers."
Susan B. Anthony
Susan B. Anthony, one of the heroines of American history whose lifelong fight to get women the right to vote in America almost got it right with her quote. She should have added, "...and elect women lawmakers."
Men have been in control of the world for thousands of years and of the United States government for 222 years and look what it has gotten us. I am one who believes there are certain characteristics of women that would make a significant contribution to our political and cultural evolution. Twice in my career I worked with and for women in top government positions and they were every bit as successful as any man.
When I worked for Governor Thomas Kean of New Jersey I was chief of staff in the Energy Department when Christine Todd Whitman was President of the Public Utilities Commission. She went on to become the first and only female governor in New Jersey history and the first Republican female to defeat a Democrat incumbent for governor in America. I also worked as assistant Treasurer for Feather O'Connor, New Jersey State Treasurer. Both were exceptional leaders.
So what stops a Whitman, who can capture a powerful statewide office, from becoming president or vice president? Well, it is a male club she would be trying to capture and it will take a monumental effort by many, many women and some men to get the job done of breaking through. The hardest part of the task, as Sarah Palin found out, is getting the women to agree on a woman candidate.
Why can't women put aside petty differences, even differences on policy and social issues, to join forces and once and for all break down the barriers keeping all women out? Men set aside personal causes and policy differences to get in the door. And remember, if you are not inside the door to the club you will never change the club for the better.
After an incredible 50 year battle against the world of men Susan died in 1906, just 14 years before enactment of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution that finally recognized women's right to vote. She did not go to her grave without experiencing the right, however, for in 1872 she set off a firestorm when she did vote in spite of being denied the right to register to vote. It resulted in her arrest and one of the most fascinating trials in our history. By the way, she voted for the Republicans.
We do not know enough about Susan and her passion for equality so the Coltons Point Times web site will be presenting history lessons about her life and about the historic trial and it would do you well to read them. But that is not the main purpose of this article. This article explores why women don't rule.
The United States Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787, by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and ratified by conventions in each U.S. state in the name of "The People". The Constitution has been amended twenty-seven times; the first ten amendments are known as the Bill of Rights.
That means that today, the legal framework of our nation has been in effect for 222 years. This will be the 90th year women have had the right to vote. After suffering second class citizenship for the first 132 years of our history what have women achieved with the right to vote during the past 90 years?
While it is true that women have slowly broken down many barriers to not just voting but being elected to public office, it is also true that no woman has been elected president or vice president. In the last election we came the closest ever with viable candidates for president and vice president and Sarah Palin came within 7.2% of being elected.
In 1984 Geraldine Ferraro was the vice president nominee with Walter Mondale but they were defeated by Ronald Reagan and George Bush by 18.2%. Thus the Palin election was the closest a woman has ever come to winning a national election. No woman has ever been a presidential candidate on the ballot.
Why is it no woman has won the top two offices in our nation when women are the majority of the voters and gender prejudices were never as strained as racial prejudices yet Barack Obama won in 2008? The answer may be obvious. Women have never united as a voting block.
In America we have this thing called single issue focus, it means being so obsessive about a single issue that anyone disagreeing is condemned. This narrow minded view of political reality stands as the greatest barrier to women breaking down the last bastion of politics and getting elected as president or vice president.
The most publicly recognized groups of women are members of the most polarizing of groups and therein lies the problem. There is the feminist movement whose leftist priorities are so far removed from the mainstream of American politics they will never get elected. They are also the first to condemn anyone who does not advocate their far left agenda.
Social causes like pro-life and pro-abortion face the same dilemma and the until the groups drastically lower their virulence toward each other nothing will ever be accomplished but deeper polarization. Think about it. If anyone from either of these groups were ever elected president or vice president they must take the Oath of Office to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.
Whatever law is on the books and upheld by the Supreme Court, Roe versus Wade for instance, they are sworn to defend it. That does not mean our elected officials have to agree with the law and they have every right to pursue change through our Constitutional processes but while the law is in effect they must enforce it.
Women activists must get past their tendency to condemn those who disagree or they will never get women elected to our highest offices. Look at all the Founding Fathers who did not agree with elements of our Constitution yet set aside their own beliefs for the benefit of the nation. They understood that a higher good must always be served in our federal government, preserving the nation, while changes to our nation could take place as the public came to accept the need and it was adopted according to prescribed methods.
So women are their own worst enemy. If they could get beyond the litmus test of social issues or prejudices against those women they feel are less qualified to lead because they do not have the same education or beliefs, the floodgates to women in office would be thrown open.
That might be a real good thing for America. This is the first of several stories on Why Women Don't Rule in America and I would like to hear your thoughts on the issue. I would also like to hear about women you know that are present or future leaders of this nation and why you think they might be able to break through. Please comment on the Coltons Point Times web site and maybe we can help get them where they belong.
"I declare to you that woman must not depend upon the protection of man, but must be taught to protect herself, and there I take my stand."
Susan B. Anthony
Electing Our Past
January 7, 2010 by generationgapping
by Tara Aarness
"Friends and fellow citizens: I stand before you tonight under indictment for the alleged crime of having voted at the last presidential election, without having a lawful right to vote. It shall be my work this evening to prove to you that in thus voting, I not only committed no crime, but, instead, simply exercised my citizen’s rights, guaranteed to me and all United States citizens by the National Constitution, beyond the power of any state to deny."
Susan B. Anthony, 1873
Susan B. Anthony was sentenced to jail (however only after paying a fine, which she never paid, thus escaping her jail sentence) and on August 18, 1920 women received the right to vote, just 14 years after her death.
Today, though, we subconsciously realize our societal advances, and we recognize more of what is tangible. For example, I am sitting here typing this on my laptop, just an hour prior to my bone scan; both things that were unheard of just under a hundred years ago. Technology is quite literally in our faces on a daily basis. A text message arrives and reading it, I am informed that on October 23, 1915 over 25,000 women marched in New York city, demanding the right to vote; I’m intrigued by what has helped shape our society.
Despite the chilled fall air, 40,000 women and men alike gathered in Washington Square hours prior to the parade beginning. Joining them were women from 26 countries showing their support and it was noted that every state in the union was represented, as well. Women from every walk of life stood side by side, the majority wearing white clothing, however all were unified by wearing white hats, men included. There were to be no talking or laughing during their march, as to impress upon the voters the magnitude of the issue which was to be voted on that November 2nd.
At noon, the huge procession began silently walking up to Fifth Street toward the public library on Forty Second Street where it still stands today. There a platform was erected for the mayor and other dignitaries to view women with their children, some with their dogs, pass by. Remaining strong, they march toward their destination of Fifty Ninth Street, totally fifty blocks in all, thus completing the greatest women’s suffrage march ever held in America.
November 2, 1915 votes were cast and the result was women were still not allowed the right to vote, despite being citizens. For another five years, women persevered, often enduring cruelty, by women and men alike, for their beliefs of equality and bettering society.
94 years later, women have the right to vote and are widely considered equals. As politicians grasp at straws, desperate to obtain just one more vote to elect them into whatever office they’re fighting for, I’ll proudly cast my vote, remembering another fight that was of greater importance, and just as hard won.
More than any other woman of her generation, Susan B. Anthony saw that all of the legal disabilities faced by American women owed their existence to the simple fact that women lacked the vote. When Anthony, at age 32, attended her first woman's rights convention in Syracuse in 1852, she declared "that the right which woman needed above every other, the one indeed which would secure to her all the others, was the right of suffrage." Anthony spent the next fifty-plus years of her life fighting for the right to vote. She would work tirelessly: giving speeches, petitioning Congress and state legislatures, publishing a feminist newspaper--all for a cause that would not succeed until the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment fourteen years after her death in 1906.
She would, however, once have the satisfaction of seeing her completed ballot drop through the opening of a ballot box. It happened in Rochester, New York on November 5, 1872, and the event--and the trial for illegal voting that followed--would create a opportunity for Anthony to spread her arguments for women suffrage to a wider audience than ever before.