Woman Suffrage

Could The Equal Rights Amendment Become The 28th Amendment? The 27th Amendment As A Case Study

Lo and Behold!

The proposed Equal Rights Amendment, passed through both houses of Congress by wide margins, and then ratified by 35 states between 1972 and 1977, three states short of the three fourths or 38 states needed to ratify, and abandoned after one three year extension from the original seven year plan, in 1982, suddenly has life again!

Nevada’s legislature became state 36 in 2017, and Illinois just became the 37th recently, and now North Carolina is moving ahead on the measure, even though it is 41 years since the original 35 states ratified it, and 46 years since it was passed by both houses of Congress. Also, as a backup, the states of Arizona, Utah, Florida and Virginia are moving in the same direction.

There is precedent for this great delay in the 27th Amendment, suggested in 1789, and only finally ratified by enough states in 1992, mandating that Congress cannot raise its own pay during the same session of Congress that they enact a raise, but only for the succeeding Congress.

If that can happen 203 years after the original enactment, then why not 46 years?

George Will, the conservative ideologue, is bitterly opposed, as he argues progress has been made for women as members of Congress and in society and in law. from what it was in the 1970s.

While that is true, there is still no reason NOT to put women in the Constitution specifically, as the only mention is the 19th Amendment in 1920, giving women the right to vote long after the first push for suffrage at the Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848.

The Republican Presidential Race Gets Nastier, Degrading The Whole Process!

One would think that the Republican Party, already in crisis, could not stoop lower, but they now have, with the insults flying back and forth between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz over their wives!

There is no excuse for any candidate to attack anyone else’s wife or children, or for that matter, a woman candidate’s husband, and it should be totally avoided at all costs.

But Trump is clearly a misogynist, who judges women solely by their looks, and Cruz denies women the basic freedom to control their own bodies!

The effect of this dispute is that any self respecting woman, even one who is “religious”, should tell her husband, boyfriend, brother, father or whoever, if necessary to keep peace, that they will “obey” them and vote Republican, but should go ahead and use the brain God gave her, and reject the party and its candidates!

It is clear the vast majority of women, particularly the millennials and all those under 45, will be decisive in electing Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders to the White House!

No intelligent, educated woman will ever again allow Republicans or “religious” people to dictate their futures in any form, and will exercise their right to vote in a way that will transform history, and appropriate with the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment (woman suffrage) arriving in 2020!

Imagine a President Hillary Clinton commemorating the 100th anniversary of women’s voting rights from the Oval Office!

Gay Marriage Finally National: The Advancement Of Human Rights Reaches A New Pinnacle Of Social Justice!

On June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Inn, a gay restaurant and nightclub in Greenwich Village in New York City, was raided by police, leading to a large scale riot. It was the beginning of the gay rights movement, the struggle against oppression.

46 years have passed, and on June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court upheld the right of gays and lesbians to marry everywhere in the United States, a path breaking advancement in human rights, reaching a new pinnacle of social justice. It makes America a more perfect democracy, promoting equality and liberty for another class of citizens who have faced oppression. It is a tremendous expansion of human rights and social justice!

America is a better nation for this fantastic development, and much credit is due to several people, including:

Then San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who was the first chief executive to promote gay marriage in California, and officiate at many gay weddings n 2003. He is now Lieutenant Governor of California, and likely successor to Governor Jerry Brown in the next gubernatorial election in 2018.

Ted Olson and David Boies, opposing attorneys in the Bush-Gore Presidential battle in 2000, who pursued the constitutional case promoting gay marriage, helping to lead it to Supreme Court decision yesterday.

Associate Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion in four crucial Supreme Court cases, in 2003 (Lawrence V Texas), two in 2013 (Hollingsworth V Perry) and (US V Windsor), and yesterday (Obergefell V Hodges) Without him, none of this advancement of gay rights and gay marriage could ever have occurred. Interestingly, all four of these cases were decided on June 26, of those years, 2003, 2013, and 2015!

The history of the gay rights movement is yet to be written, but it will be seen as part of the great movement forward as evidenced by the abolitionist crusade against slavery; the woman suffrage movement; the civil rights movement; the labor union movement; the environmental movement; the disability reform movement; the promotion of a safety net as represented by Social Security, Medicare, and now ObamaCare; and the immigration reform movement!

The Coming War On The 17th Amendment By Conservatives!

The right wing in America has a planned strategy to conduct war on the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, one of the greatest of all amendments added since the first ten were enacted as the Bill of Rights!

The 17th Amendment, added to the Constitution in 1913, came as the outgrowth of the Progressive Era, and occurred at its peak, the vigorous campaign for progressive reform promoted by Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson in the Presidential Election of 1912. It was also endorsed by the incumbent President, William Howard Taft, who had elements of progressivism in him despite his general reputation as a conservative, which led to his disastrous third place finish in 1912, despite being the Republican nominee.

The 17th Amendment developed in reaction to “muckraker” David Graham Phillips’ path breaking non fiction exposure, “THE TREASON OF THE SENATE”, which demonstrated the corruption of the US Senate, and its leading figure, Senator Nelson Aldrich of Rhode Island, and led to direct popular election of the US Senate from 1913 onward.

One could argue that even with popular vote, the US Senate often disappoints us, and there are Senators who are an embarrassment and a disgrace to that legislative body.

But now, conservatives are promoting the idea of the repeal of the 17th Amendment, returning us to the method in the Constitution adopted in 1787, to have the often corrupt state legislatures choose the Senators, and deny the population the popular vote involvement in selecting the members of the upper body of Congress.

The theory has developed that all the laws passed to promote political, social and economic reform since 1913, including the massive reforms of Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, and all other Presidents might be repealed as illegitimate if the Senate method of election returned to the pre 1913 system.

This is an alarming development, and joined with the desire to get rid of the 16th Amendment (federal income tax) and the 19th Amendment (woman suffrage), all of these “Progressive” amendments, could, if enacted take us back to the 19th century Gilded Age!

Conservative Republicans Want To Repeal Constitutional Amendments And 20th Century Reforms That Make America A Better Nation!

The Republican Party of the second decade of the 21st century, along with the conservative movement, in all of its ramifications, is out to repeal constitutional amendments and numerous 20th century reforms that make America a better, more modern nation, all in their quest to make the corporations ever more dominant and enrich the top one percent more than already is reality!

When one follows, reads, and watches right wing spokesmen, in and out of the party, they have called for the following repeals:

The 16th Amendment–Federal Income Tax
The 17th Amendment–Direct Popular Election Of US Senators
19th Amendment–Woman Suffrage
Antiquities Act–National Parks, Forests, and Monuments Protection
Food And Drug Administration
Clayton Anti Trust Act
Federal Trade Commission
Federal Reserve Act
Social Security Act
Fair Labor Standards Act
Medicare
Civil Rights Act of 1964
Voting Rights Act of 1965
Department Of Education
Department Of Health And Human Services
Department Of Housing And Urban Development
Department Of Energy
Environmental Protection Agency
Consumer Product Safety Commission
Occupational Safety And Health Administration
US Post Office
Affirmative Action
Abortion Rights
Gay Rights and Gay Marriage
National Public Radio
PBS
Americans With Disabilities Act
Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan
ObamaCare–Affordable Care Act

These and other laws and amendments not mentioned here became law under Presidents of both parties, including

Theodore Roosevelt
William Howard Taft
Woodrow Wilson
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Harry Truman
Dwight D. Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Richard Nixon
Gerald Ford
Jimmy Carter
George H. W. Bush
Bill Clinton
George W. Bush
Barack Obama

Basically, these right wing groups and the dominant element in the Republican Party in Congress want to repeal everything that is good about America, and bring us back to the 19th century Gilded Age!

100 Years Ago Sunday, The Woman Suffrage Parade In Washington, DC Took Place, A Day Before The Inauguration Of President Woodrow Wilson!

The woman suffrage movement, which had begun with the Equal Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848, used the occasion of the upcoming Presidential Inauguration of Woodrow Wilson to conduct a massive parade in Washington DC, the day before the inauguration, which is 100 years ago on March 3, with Wilson inaugurated the following day.

Alice Paul led the march of about 8,000 women, who were mobbed by tens of thousands of spectators, majority being men, who injured, shoved, and tripped many of the marchers, and in so doing, created a scandal and motivated the further push toward a constitutional amendment, which came about finally in 1920, despite President Wilson’s opposition, and his order of arrest of suffragettes on Pennsylvania Avenue, who regularly marched and demonstrated for the amendment.

The battle of women for equal protection and equal rights was at fever pitch then, as sadly it is now, as Republicans work at weakening the rights of women in all spheres of public life, including their rights to their own bodies, and to their right to avoid assault that cannot be prosecuted, something that happened too often in American history, and still goes on today!

Ironically, the sponsor of the 19th Amendment for woman suffrage was the first woman to serve in either house of Congress, Congresswoman Jeanette Rankin of Montana, who was a Republican, at a time when former President Theodore Roosevelt was advocating woman suffrage, as he did in his Progressive Party Presidential campaign the previous year, 1912!

Evaluating Woodrow Wilson A Century After His Election To The Presidency, And On His 156th Birthday Commemoration!

Woodrow Wilson, our 28th President, was born on this day in 1856, and was elected President in the four way race of 1912, running against Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Eugene Debs, arguably the most exciting Presidential election in American History.

The President with the least government experience, only two years as Governor of New Jersey; the only earned PH. D. to become President; the first President elected who grew up in the South (Virginia) since the Civil War; the President to face the greatest war crisis since Abraham Lincoln; the President who emphasized the importance of international affairs and the need for an international organization to promote peace; the President who was the culmination of the Progressive reform movements of the early 20th century; and the President who promoted successfully his domestic agenda, and then took on Theodore Roosevelt’s even more advanced progressive ideas and made them his own—this President has also been bitterly attacked by many for his shortcomings in many areas, and particularly has been viciously attacked by right wing conservatives, including Glenn Beck and George Will, who have torn his image to shreds.

Well, the question is whether the attacks on Wilson are fair and just, so that requires a careful examination of the positive and negative aspects of his Presidency.

Let’s start with the negative points that can be made about Wilson, and they are plenty!

1. Wilson was a white supremacist, despite his stellar education, and failed to treat people of African, Asian, and Latin American heritage in a dignified way, whether in the nation or with foreign nations overseas. His treatment of China, Japan, Mexico, Haiti and governments of other nations outside of Europe were treated in an insensitive and unacceptable manner, and he issued an executive order mandating segregation of the races in Washington, DC, and failed to recognize the contributions of soldiers of other than the Caucasian race during World War I. He legitimized and set back mistreatment of African Americans for another thirty years, until progress was made by President Harry Truman after World War II.

2. Wilson, inexplicably, opposed the woman suffrage movement, and had suffragettes arrested for disturbing the peace in their marches on Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House. Theodore Roosevelt had proposed this constitutional change in his 1912 Progressive Party campaign, but Wilson never moved in that direction on his own. Despite his opposition, the 19th Amendment was added at the end of his term in 1920.

3. Wilson had a horrible record on civil liberties in wartime, promoting passage of the Espionage Act, Sedition Act, and numerous other laws violating freedom of speech and press. He displayed total intolerance toward critics, once America was at war, and is regarded as one of the absolutely worst Presidents on the subject of civil liberties overall for his eight years in office.

4. Wilson was intolerant of opposition in Congress, refusing to work with Republicans when events worked against him, and tended to see things in religious terms, with him having God behind him, and often invoking religion in his speeches and comments. So he was seen as manipulative and deceitful in his actions and words that took us to ultimate war in 1917, and refused to negotiate on the Versailles Treaty after the war.

5. Wilson had a supreme, and self righteous ego, and this made him blind to reality much of the time, as when he had a severe paralytic stroke, but refused, along with his second wife, to keep Vice President Thomas Marshall informed, or to consider resigning in 1919-1921 so that the nation would have a President capable of leading the nation in the difficult post war days, when Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer led the Red Scare or Palmer Raids, another massive violation of civil liberties, which helped to spur the creation of the Civil Liberties Union in 1920. The nation was basically leaderless for a period of 18 months, as Wilson slowly recovered and even thought of running for an unprecedented third term despite his poor health.

Now to the positive side of Woodrow Wilson!

1. Wilson was the most successful President in domestic policy achievements up to his time in office, and only surpassed later by Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s and Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1960s. He accomplished all of his original domestic agenda, including legislation that has stood the test of time, despite criticism by conservatives and Republicans over the years, including the Federal Reserve Act, the Federal Trade Commission Act, and the Clayton Anti Trust Act, as well as the first attempt at so called “free trade”, the lowering of tariff walls on foreign goods.

2. Wilson also accomplished the passage of laws originally promoted by Theodore Roosevelt in 1912, including the temporary end of child labor, protection for some workers on hours, workers compensation, and the protection of the merchant marine workers who are employed on ships offshore. Also, the first real attempt at agricultural aid to farmers to encourage expansion of acreage and the buying of new equipment, was also an idea promoted by TR. Basically, Wilson adopted much of the Populist Party and Progressive Party agenda of earlier times, and brought Progressive reform to its peak in the period before the conservative 1920s.

3. Wilson dealt with a war that was the most massive for America in 50 years, and was skilled enough to keep America out of war for two years and eight months after World War I began in Europe, but his role in the eventual entrance of America is still highly disputed even today, seen by some as dishonest and deceptive, but praised by many others as the best one could have expected.

4. Wilson had a vision of a peaceful post war world, and saw an international organization, the League of Nations, as the most important accomplishment of the Treaty of Versailles, and was stunned by the rejection of the US Senate to any international commitment, with America going into isolation. But his vision came to fruition a generation after his passing, with the establishment of the United Nations, but with many conservatives and Republicans bitterly opposed today in the US involvement in that international organization.

5. Wilson comes across, despite his many faults and shortcomings as worthy, in the minds of most experts, to be rated in the top ten of all Presidents–number 6 in the C Span 2000 poll and number 9 in the 2009 C Span Followup poll, and this despite bitter condemnation by so many right wing sources who only emphasize the evil side of Wilson, and give him no credit for his accomplishments. There is no question, however, that he had an important impact on the growth of Presidential power, the exact reason why the right wing hates his guts.

This blogger and author understands the mixed legacy of Woodrow Wilson, but still sees him as an influential President, who still impacts America a century after his first election to the Presidency!

So Happy Birthday, President Wilson, a man we will hear a lot about as we commemorate the major events of his administration over the next eight years from March 4, 1913, to March 4, 1921!

92 Years Since 19th Amendment (Woman Suffrage) Was Ratified!

Yesterday, August 18, was the 92nd anniversary of the 19th Amendment, the Woman Suffrage amendment.

The thought that it took two thirds of a century (72 years to be precise) to give women the right to vote is astounding in today’s world, but the fight began with the Equal Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848, and was a struggle highlighted by the activism of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, as well as Alice Paul and others. It finally came to fruition when Tennessee became the 36th state out of 48 to ratify in 1920.

Women had little influence on politics in the early years, but now women play a major role, although their representation comes nowhere near their percentage of the population (about 50.8 percent).

Women have been voting a majority Democratic for a long time, and women again could have a major role in the election, with a majority seeing the Republican Party as attacking women’s rights at work, their safety from abusive men, and control of their reproductive lives.

Many women are running for public office, and this might lead to an increase in Congress, and already, women have proved they can serve on the Supreme Court, in high cabinet positions, and have distinguished careers in Congress and the state legislatures and Governorships.

This anniversary is a moment to celebrate, and to remember the long struggle for the basic right everyone should have in a democracy without question, the right to vote!