Columns & Blogs

Hoping for the spirit of compromise

My choices to write about this week were either a fox I’m trying to heal from sarcoptic mange, or the fact that America just nominated its first woman for President of the United States.

Sorry, Freddy, you get bumped to next week.

Even if you loathe Hillary Clinton can we at least all come together to rejoice for Jerry Emmett, aged 102, a delegate from Arizona, who was born 6 years before women were given the right to vote?

“I remember that day, “ she said on camera, being interviewed for NBC news, “I was about 8 years old and we all thought, ‘Oh, boy!’

She also stated, this time to USA Today, that she remembers seeing her mother going to vote for the first time and that recently, she prayed often to God that she would die a happy woman after seeing a woman nominated for President.

“Oh, no you won’t,” replied a friend, “I’ve already bought your dress for the inauguration.”

And when Jerry was handed the microphone at the Democratic National Convention and declared, “Fifty-one votes for the next president of the United States of America, Hillary Rodham Clinton,” she struggled before dissolving into tears.

It’s a lovely thing to witness someone, particularly someone of a great age, live to see their dreams realized. It would also be a mistake for any Democrat to crow, “Just remember, the woman’s right to vote happened under a Democratic President’s (Woodrow Wilson) administration!” Because that conveniently leaves out the fact that Democrats of that era were intensely socially conservative and it was during the Republican platform of 1872 (although well after the very first women’s convention in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848) that “additional rights” for women “should be considered,” was first mentioned and the words for the subsequent 19th Amendment first introduced by California Republican, Aaron A Sargent in 1878.

But before Republicans begin to pat each other on their back for their part in the nomination of Hillary Clinton, let it be known that this baby didn’t just happen over night. While Sargent indeed introduced the words of the amendment, there was no forward movement for a decade as it sat, lifeless, bogged down in endless committees, until it finally appeared for a vote and was soundly defeated, as Suffragettes marched and protested and starved themselves, 34 to 16. Regardless of the fact that the bill was introduced again and again, the victorious vote in the Senate did not take place until 1919 and ratified in 1920.

Author Alana Jeydel, in her book, “Political Women: The Women’s Movement, Political Institutions, the Battle for Women’s Suffrage and the ERA,” points out that really, both Republican and Democratic parties really made little more than symbolic overtures regarding the Women’s Right to vote and that most of the credit should go to then former President, Theodore Roosevelt’s Progressive Party, which he created upon breaking away from the GOP, which fully endorsed the Women’s Right to Vote on their platform. And Woodrow Wilson, embarrassed and wearied by the picketing outside the White House, finally supported passage of the amendment. From there, it was still in for a bumpy ride but ultimately victorious following members of the National American Woman Suffrage Association working to defeat two senators, ultimately giving them the votes needed.

So the ‘take-away’ (as is the over-used term mouthed by every political pundit on television) in all of this is that the glass ceiling that has suddenly shattered above all our heads could not have had its beginnings without a Republican Congress and a Democratic President. So we should all feel very good about that.

It boggles the mind to think of how many monumental pieces of legislation could actually see the light of day with the spirit of compromise.

Maybe we’ll find out.


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