Tag Archives: voting rights

Celebrating the 19th Amendment: August 26, 2013

26 Aug

SufferageToday marks the 93rd Anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution.  After a very long and hard struggle for women to get the right to vote — fought by such heroes as Alice Paul and many  others — women were finally granted the right to vote.  Finally, in 1920 all women were being treated as full equals.

Oh but wait.  Sadly, this is far from true. While I am exceedingly grateful for the passing of the 19th Amendment, we still have a long way to go towards treating all women equitably.  Even more sad is that the recent Supreme Court ruling regarding the Voting Rights Act.  With this ruling, we now witness the very intentional disenfranchisement of targeted voters: poor women, women of color, and a large percentage of people of color.

Today is a great day for action.  Today we should be standing in solidarity with all women to celebrate the 19th Amendment but to also initiate respectful conversations around what populations are being kept from the polls and how we shore up the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. While five members of the Supreme Court may not remember history, there are many of us that do and are more than happy to offer a history lesson to prevent us from repeating our mistakes.

I would also like to celebrate the National Women’s History Project today, co-founded by Molly Murphy MacGregor. Today is Women’s Equality Day as proclaimed by the President of the United States.   Click here to find out more about the National Women’s History Project.

Number 3 Hero of the Year 2012: The American Voter

29 Dec
Number 3 Hero of 2012

Number 3 Hero of 2012

This year’s election was a critical choice between two starkly different philosophies of government. Hundreds of millions of dollars were spent  (which will be a whole blog article in itself) and Americans were inundated with thousands of hours of advertising and opinions. In the end, despite poor expectations, corporate investment, hardship, and obstacles, the people stood up and said that they want a government that works for everyone, not just the chosen few.

Most pundits believed that the grass-roots coalition of voters built by the Obama campaign in 2008 was a fluke. Minorities, the poor, and the young are less likely to vote in general, so their turnout was supposed to go way down. What the naysayers didn’t realize is that the mobilization and empowerment weren’t just a one-time effort but an ongoing strategy. While all turnout in 2012 was down a bit from 2008 and the full data aren’t available, it’s clear that Latinos, African Americans, and young voters showed up at the polls, stood up for their rights, and helped Democrats and fairness take the day.  Never underestimate progressive social movements and grass-roots activists.

SuperPACs and corporate donations were also supposed to help Republicans this year. Hundreds of millions were filtered into shadowy groups who supported Mitt Romney and a host of Teahadists. Fortunately, all that Citizens United energy did little to change the election results. Obscene amounts of money were wasted, but voters made up their own minds and tuned out the ghastly shrieking from the right.

Many states launched voter suppression efforts, usually sponsored by Republican legislatures that expressly wanted to ensure a Romney win. Voter ID laws, voter registration purges, and changes to early and absentee voting were the typical strategies. Despite this, voters stood up and demanded their rights, paying attention to the changes and demanding their votes. The courts were also very helpful, striking down the vast majority of the odious new laws as unconstitutional.

American voters supported marriage equality for the first time in FOUR states. They handed President Obama a clear mandate for his second term. They kept Democrats in charge of the Senate and sent more women to that body than ever before. They shrank the Republican advantage in the house while electing the most diverse Congressional delegation ever. Despite the screaming and spending, voters showed up — even in the states ravaged by hurricane Sandy — and used their most powerful right. What a wonderful thing to see.

Honorable mention today goes to Oregon’s own junior Senator, Jeff Merkley. Since taking office in 2009, Merkley has been a champion of progressive values and functional government. He stood up for filibuster reform before he was even sworn in and is pushing hard for it now (with the help of Sen. Tom Udall (D, NM). His efforts won him recognition in The Nation‘s 2012 progressive honor roll as “Most Valuable Senator.” Congratulations and thank you, Sen. Merkley!

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