Thursday, September 4, 2008

On The Shoulders Of Others - Remember Those Who Paved The Way

I worry that Americans have become a complacent breed, willing to sit back and be told what to do, what to fear, and what to believe. Lately, I've been reminded it was not always that way and doesn't have to be that way now...if we just pay attention to those who went before us.

Women gained the right to vote in 1920 by the passage of the 19th amendment to the Constitution. Our female ancestors fought long and hard to be granted the same privileges as men in our free society.

They protested. They rallied. They petitioned, marched and met in groups slowly changing attitudes during the 70 year struggle. They were beaten, jailed and starved themselves for their cause.
A few of the movements loudest voices actually died before seeing a clear resolution.

Since then a long line of women have paved the way up the political ladder. I am proud to watch their rise and feel that their presence brings a much needed balance to power. I've enjoyed the jolt of energy I've felt seeing local and state offices fought for and won by responsible women here in Nevada...not to mention the women who've made it (and almost made it) to be part of the highest political ticket in our land.

Sarah Palin is a current example. She and I differ vastly on most every issue and I won't vote for her party's ticket just because she is a woman (that would be irresponsible), but I applaud her efforts and the torch she carries in honor of our gender. Because of women like Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Stanton, and Lucy Burns, Palin stands before the electorate asking for our vote.

Here is the text of the speech Susan B. Anthony gave in order to win women like me and Governor Palin the right to vote and access to all the important steps that followed. Remember, this was 1873 and she died before the 19th Amendment was passed.

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.

The preamble of the Federal Constitution says: "We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union. And we formed it, not to give the blessings of liberty, but to secure them; not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people - women as well as men. And it is a downright mockery to talk to women of their enjoyment of the blessings of liberty while they are denied the use of the only means of securing them provided by this democratic-republican government - the ballot.

For any state to make sex a qualification that must ever result in the disfranchisement of one entire half of the people, is to pass a bill of attainder, or, an ex post facto law, and is therefore a violation of the supreme law of the land. By it the blessings of liberty are forever withheld from women and their female posterity.

To them this government has no just powers derived from the consent of the governed. To them this government is not a democracy. It is not a republic. It is an odious aristocracy; a hateful oligarchy of sex; the most hateful aristocracy ever established on the face of the globe; an oligarchy of wealth, where the rich govern the poor. An oligarchy of learning, where the educated govern the ignorant, or even an oligarchy of race, where the Saxon rules the African, might be endured; but this oligarchy of sex, which makes father, brothers, husband, sons, the oligarchs over the mother and sisters, the wife and daughters, of every household - which ordains all men sovereigns, all women subjects, carries dissension, discord, and rebellion into every home of the nation.

Webster, Worcester, and Bouvier all define a citizen to be a person in the United States, entitled to vote and hold office.

The only question left to be settled now is: Are women persons? And I hardly believe any of our opponents will have the hardihood to say they are not. Being persons, then, women are citizens; and no state has a right to make any law, or to enforce any old law, that shall abridge their privileges or immunities. Hence, every discrimination against women in the constitutions and laws of the several states is today null and void, precisely as is every one against Negroes.

See, Governor Palin...words are powerful, words are inspiring, words matter because with words come a call to action and with action came a change from which you and I have benifited greatly.
Please, as you represent the women of this country, remember that mockery is not your friend and the shoulders you are standing on are many and diverse.

8 comments:

Anok said...

Very interesting take on this Lisa. While I agree with you that it is wonderful to see women up there and working and fighting, I also agree in a sense, that she shouldn't get the job just because she is a woman. That's not what equality is.

And I am afraid that is the very reason she was chosen, she is a hard right woman, and that is a slap in the face to all of the women who suffered to gain us our rights and equality.

Todd McGlaun said...

I love the picture... It looks to me like it starts with "DANGER! Woman's Sufferage Would Double the Irresponsible Vote"

Let's see... women make up about half the population. Giving them the vote would double the existing vote. The existing vote was all men. So, apparently the men's vote was irresponsible?

Gotta love the English language and those who don't speak (or write) it very well.

Lisa McGlaun said...

Anok,

I have an opinion about why she was selected but that's only my opinion..I'm not part of McCain's staff so I don't know everything that went into their decision.

Her politics are not mine and I won't vote for her. Even though I disagree with her she represents a step forward (even if it's a step that a woman has taken before) toward higher office. But I totally agree with you that it's a step in the wrong direction for all of us.

Thanks so much for your comment. You know how much I respect your opinion.

Peace,
Lisa

Lisa McGlaun said...

Todd,

I love the way your mind works. I didn't even notice the gramatical error. That is so funny and exactly the sentiment that group DIDN'T want to convey.

Love you,
Lisa

markstoneman said...

I have to remind students about this constantly. These days only a tiny minority will self-identify as feminists. They forget how hard such women had to work for rights to their income and property, their children, divorce, the right to live independently as adults without a legal guardian, and so on. Do you know this nteractive BBC quiz about women's rights in Britain?

Fin said...

We at Housecat Confidential couldn't agree more, and you expressed it beautifully, as always.

On a far lighter note, I had to give my own catlike interpretation on the race for the White House.

Purrs to Harry and Domino, and the rest of your family.

Lisa McGlaun said...

Mark,

I played the game..and was quite surprised at the results. I'm not up on British history so that made it harder. Thanks for posting the link. I learned a great deal.

Sincerely,
Lisa

Lisa McGlaun said...

Finn,

I'm going to read your thoughts right now. How exciting, a furred animal view of the silliness of human politics. I can only imagine and can't wait to read your views.

Cuddles,
Lisa