It was a day, maybe two, after Super Tuesday, after Elizabeth Warren stepped down, that I had the crushing realization. I had made an awful mistake. I had spent months defending the handful of women who aspired to our nation’s highest office, had insisted that this country WAS ready for a woman president, and that “because I don’t think anyone else will vote for her” is a terrible reason not to vote for the candidate you believe in. I had spun words like cotton candy and completely missed the pivotal central point.
I knew this year was the hundredth anniversary of the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Of course America found a whole heap of other accounts to deny or abridge the right to vote for indigenous women, black women, Asian women, immigrant women, or women who made the mistake of marrying the wrong person, but generations of (mostly white) women carried signs and distributed handbills and got arrested and went on hunger strikes and made a ruckus and wore the now iconic sashes emblazoned with “VOTES FOR WOMEN” and made a place in our constitution for a fundamental right, that a vote could not be denied to a person solely because she was a woman. This was important. It should have happened in 1788, not 1920.
And on the Decidedly-Less-Superb Wednesday that I realized that the message from a hundred years ago needed a small but profound change ninety-nine, ninety-five, forty-four years later or probably even forty-seven years earlier. As important as putting the fundamental right in place, it is every bit as important to call every citizen who CAN vote to action, to right a long-standing wrong and to bring true equality to our nation.
VOTE FOR WOMEN. We didn’t say it loud enough prior to Super Tuesday and too much of America was unwilling to do it on Super Tuesday. VOTE FOR WOMEN. Before the 2020 presidential primary elections, only five women had even made it onto the presidential debate stage. VOTE FOR WOMEN. Los Angeles elected its first-ever female City Council member, Estelle Lawton Lindsey, in 1915, four years after California women were given the vote in state and municipal elections. She served as acting mayor for 36 hours during her term. VOTE FOR WOMEN. The City of Los Angeles has never elected a female mayor. VOTE FOR WOMEN. After more women ran for Congress than ever before in 2018, more women are running for Congress this year than in 2018. More Republican women are running for Congress than ever before. More women of color are running for Congress than ever before. More Black women are running for Congress than ever before. VOTE FOR WOMEN. Trans women (and transgender and non-binary individuals) have faced extraordinary persecution and made the slimmest gains in seeking representation in local, state, and federal elections. A vote for trans women is a vote for women. VOTE FOR WOMEN. Vote for women running for governor or legislative assembly member or mayor or county supervisor or city council or school board or judge.
We are seventy-five days from the election. We cannot vote for a woman for president in this election, but we can vote for a woman for vice president. We can vote for women in Congress, we can vote for women in state government, we can vote for women in our counties and cities. And we can vote for women in the next election and the next one after that and the next one after that.
We can also, like the suffragettes from a century ago, make signs, make sashes, make bumper stickers, make a ruckus. As we nod to their message, we make it our own and expand it to include, to acknowledge, to support all the women who were excluded, marginalized, dismissed across the centuries. We can invite everyone to share this message. We can urge everyone to act.
After a long and painful struggle, American women have the vote. It’s not wrong to feel proud of that achievement, but the work is not done. Now it is time that we do our part.
VOTE FOR WOMEN.