Tonight I had an unbelievable good time at a Broomfield Episcopal church. The campaign I’m working on is advocating for a return to Colorado’s presidential primary, and opening up all those primaries to unaffiliated voters. We were invited to come make our case to a “civil discourse in politics” discussion group. I went up on our behalf, made our case to a group of about 15 more mature Episcopalians.
After I spoke, a recent college grad who is working within the church took my place at the front of the room. He didn’t make his position clear at first. He told us of his work as an Episcopalian, and of working at St. Mary’s – a church in Denver that also strives to care for some of the 5,500 homeless here. They not only offer food and shelter, he said, but they try to offer dignity to their wards. This young man then proceeded to make the moral case for the two propositions I had just spoken on.
Caucuses necessarily benefit the privileged. Indeed, they were set up that way in the modern convention. In the South, caucuses were a way to keep out the undesirables, minorities, women (because indeed, who would then stay home with the children?). The homeless population that the young man spoke of? Caucusing is out of the question for many of them. Making voting – a right given to property-holding white men, and demanded with blood, and life, and death by the rest of us – easy to access is imperative if we’re going to be a just society.
Before I walked in to this delightful group of people, discussing ballot issues, and working on how to discuss contentious issues in a respectful and civil manner, my good friend texted me:
Indeed, I did see it coming. This morning, when Phillip Bump of the Washington Post tweeted that Eric Trump emailed out to supporters the exact map that Nate Silver, of fivethirtyeight.com, had published showing what the electoral map would look like if only men voted. And that map was awfully red, and Baby Trump tried to pass it off as the actual current polling map. So when people found out what that map actually was… #repealthe19th.
Sometimes the opposition is so predictable.
I’ve been working on understanding the Trump phenomenon, and trying to be more empathetic, but I was exasperated, and disheartened. That led to the part of me that loves nothing more than to be a cynical bastard continuing to my friend that I was just shocked that the people who started this hashtag were able to even find the correct amendment giving women the right to vote.
Then I listened to the young Episcopalian espouse the ethics of opening voting in primary elections because we shouldn’t be throwing roadblocks into the process of taxpayer funded elections.
Last year, I went to see Suffragette, with Carey Mulligan. It’s a decent movie about English women fighting for the right to vote. It’s been so long since I’d seen Iron Jawed Angels, an admittedly better movie, but the raw emotion I felt the first time I watched that better movie came flooding back when I sat in the theater watching the lesser one.
As a white woman, my privilege has been greater than most. But as a white woman, there has been a sense always that I was supposed to be someone’s pretty, delicate, to-be-protected property. These badass women who first gathered at Seneca Falls, and finally saw victory 70 years later (120 years later for black women) put literally everything on the line for the act of checking a box on a ballot; to choose who represented them while making laws that they would live under. Women died for this right. It wasn’t handed to us by virtue of being the right gender after 1776. My foremothers fought and died against a resistant patriarchy, just like our founding fathers fought and died against the British monarchy.
Now some assholes, some coward assholes, sitting behind a screen want to flippantly #repealthe19th because their coward asshole candidate is losing, but would be winning if the womenz didn’t have a say. We’re emotional, we’re erratic, and for some odd reason, we refuse to be complicit in the dehumanization their candidate intends to wreck on us.
I’m mad. I am indignant, and insulted, and angry as hell. In 2008, I was taking this amazing seminar at Furman with Dr. Akan Malici, who was one of my favorite professors. Conveniently, because of this class, I didn’t have to witness the travesty of having Ann Coulter on our beautiful campus. I had fought vehemently with my cohorts on the Student Activities Board about bringing her. Not only was she repulsively racist, but she advocated taking way women’s rights to the ballot. Because we’re irrational. We have periods! We can’t make decisions! I hated – LOATHED – the fact that we paid her to come to our campus, to speak in an election year – where we would later elect our first black president – in the name of bipartisanship (we had brought the Kinsey Sicks earlier that year… a much funnier, inclusive show). This woman wanted to take away my vote, and I hated that we gave her a platform.
Now I am livid once again. At the same time I am working like hell to expand access to the primary ballot to over one million unaffiliated voters, there are people who would gleefully take away half of the populations’ right to even look at a ballot, all because hypothetically men would vote in their preferred candidate, and jail mine.
The founding fathers, hallowed though they are, fought for their right to vote.
My founding mothers, my suffragettes, fought for mine. And f#&$ you if you think you can take that away from me without a fight.
Come at me, bros.