It’s Election Day, people! As a political junkie and history buff, these are the kinds of days that get me excited! Yesterday evening, John and I headed out to our local election board to cast an early ballot. This is my third presidential election to vote in, and I still get excited. As I become more and more invested in the political process, it is all too apparent that this is a right and responsibility that all Americans should take seriously.
I have no desire to get political here because it’s really not about that. What I want to discuss today is the importance of casting that vote, whatever it may be. One of the wonderful aspects of our country is that we all have the right to our opinions, and voting is the way we can give those opinions a voice! Did you know that only 64% of registered voters cast a ballot in the 2008 election? That is actually a high percentage, but I would like to see it even higher than that!
As a history major and someone who has loved it for as long as I can remember, I always think of the people who came before all of us that helped ensure that we have this right. One group has always been a particular favorite of mine. I love the history surrounding the fight for a woman’s right to vote. There are some giants of history in that struggle, and they often don’t get a whole lot of coverage in regular history classes. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were among the first women who started to question the establishment. Stanton is credited with writing the Declaration of Sentiments at the first Women’s Rights Convention which initiated the struggle for women’s suffrage. Did you know that when she was married in 1840 she insisted that the word “obey” be dropped from the vows?
Another favorite historical figure of mine is Alice Paul. She fought for suffrage in Britain, and continued the fight in the U.S. until the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920. Afterwards, she turned her efforts to the Equal Rights Amendment, and fought for it until her death. There is a really great movie that chronicles the struggles of Alice Paul called Iron Jawed Angels. If you haven’t seen it, get a group of girlfriends together and check it out! Unfortunately, it probably won’t be something the men in your life will be very into There’s even a bonus-McDreamy is in it!
The movement for women’s suffrage is just one of the many struggles Americans have gone through to get and ensure voting rights. I hope you honor these men and women today, and get out there and vote!
Besides, as one of my government students put it today, “you get a pretty cool sticker.” Have a great one!
Who’s one of your favorite historical figures? Have you seen Iron Jawed Angels? Did you VOTE?