Monday, November 5, 2012

Adam and Election Eve

Tomorrow is Election Day and I'm torn. 

Half of me can't wait for all of this to be over: the debates on TV, the debates on Facebook, the endless advertising, all the phone calls (Matt Damon and Bill Clinton both left messages for me last week!). 

The other half is terrified that voters will undo what I perceive to be progress in the areas of peacekeeping, human and civil rights, equality, healthcare and social services.

I make no secret of my own political leanings. But, I hope I haven't rammed them down anyone's throats. I truly believe in democracy. I believe that my opinion is no more valid than yours even if they are different. And, if that means that my candidate, my party and my platform are defeated by a real majority of the people, then I have to accept that.

But, more than anything else, I believe that we have to vote. There are people in this world today who literally risk their lives in order to be counted. Don't we owe it to them to exercise our right tomorrow?

And, there's another group of people to whom we should dedicate the simple action of going to the nearest polling place and casting a vote. The women, here in the U.S., who put their lives on the line to assure that we had a say in our own government.

"Well done, sister suffragette."

It was a long and difficult road from the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 until the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920. We owe Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, and so many other brave women our thanks for what may seem obvious to our generation: the right to determine how and by whom we are governed. I find it interesting (and distressing) that a nation founded on the principles of liberty and equality not only took over a century to extend voting rights to half of its population, but that we lagged behind a number of countries, including Denmark, Lithuania and New Zealand.

If the many women (and some men) who marched on Washington in 1913 were miraculously transported to 2012, there would be much to astound them. Digital technology, air travel, penicillin, a black president. But, if the same time-traveling people learned that women today have the right to vote (thank-you), but don't always use it, how would they feel? In the 2010 congressional election, less than half of female citizens over the age of 18 voted. Only 46.2%, which is appalling until you realize that even less, just 45%, of their male counterparts did.

Why did thousands of American women risk imprisonment, police brutality and social censure back in the early twentieth century? So they could vote, certainly. But, more importantly, so that their children and their children's children would live in a country that offered all of its citizens a fair and equal say in their government.

Ladies, we owe it them. We owe it to ourselves and future generations. Go to the polls tomorrow, stand on line if you have to, but vote. It's your hard-fought right. Please don't waste it.

And, one more thing. Take your daughter with you.

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