They Didn’t Give us the Vote—We Took It
By Ronnie Gerber
My friends often tell me that their husbands often vote for a different ticket. They cancel each other out. So? Why vote? It comes to nothing. That’s not true! Every voice is counted, every democracy crawls to this pinnacle of hope and change and inclusivity. That’s where women count. We can protest, march, hold rally’s for inclusivity and awareness. We can start with the yellow roses on white dresses as they did in Woodrow Wilson’s day or we women can update our wardrobes with pink pussy hats – a distasteful name to me. But it is the crux of the matter. Women count. And we may be more influential than ever.
Have an opinion about gerrymandering, civil rights, taxes, education, roads, Israel? Need more clarification or a respectable source of information? There’s the League of Women Voters and there’s Hadassah. The vote is around the corner. I’ve voted by mail and have already posted the ballot. What about you? Still looking for civil engagements? The opinion of friends and TV political pundits? Just one more outlandish debate? Take a look around. Notice the world, the economy, the science, the fringes who have managed to coalesce into loud voices full of hate. Whether your side wins or not, if you’re not part of the solution, that lands you right into the problem box. Vote! It’s your right, your duty, your honor to participate in making the democratic river that flows through America and our American veins work. It replenishes and feeds us. Vote. The 19th Amendment was hard fought a century ago, and we can’t become complacent-especially in this era. For more information and another in depth view of Hadassah women’s involvement go to: https://www.hadassahmagazine.org/2020/09/30/hadassah-works-get-vote/
Maybe you think the prison system favors those who can make bail or afford an attorney. Maybe you think they are just run as big business and sapping tax dollars from education. Maybe you believe in racial equality, gender equality and doing away with wage discrimination. Maybe you just want the noise to stop and taxes to be reasonable and accounted for. Perhaps you need to shelter and care for your parents – your children who aren’t even attending school full time or learning to socialize. Perhaps the rent is due and you’ve been under or unemployed. Maybe Covid 19 has taken the life of someone dear to you. The issues are swarming. And there are no clear or easy or fast answers. Especially from me. But there is YOU. You can lift your eyes, your heart, your pen — and Vote.
Here at home my friends have gotten together-socially distanced and in masks-to write out postcards to remind voters to cast their ballots. These cards are addressed to people in other states. Signs appear on front lawns in support of presidential teams. I’ve been part of phone trees. There have been countless emails and phone calls from friends, candidates and supporters to remind us how much this –Your-vote counts. Without suffrage 50% of the equation is gone.
Suffrage gave us a powerful voice. Its Advocacy arm can build it into something even more and it continues after the voting and the shouting are gone. Hadassah has many groups where you can find like-minded women who can change laws and bring civilization forward. Find the one that moves you and join. Look up Motivote under Hadassah’s website. If you need to more inspiration, have a good look at our suffrage history. There was Ernestine Rose who befriended Susan B. Anthony, and Anita Pollitzer, also of that era. Those two had to fight overt antisemitism to fight for the right to vote. No Blacks-No Jews. Then it became a voice for males only — fighting to give Black men the vote. Again, little hate groups were always bubbling near the surface so these dedicated women had to focus on the war and not the battle.
More recently, do you remember Betty Friedan and Bella Abzug? Strong Jewish women with strong voices untethering us from second class status and making the compelling argument –among others-for equal access to information and a stronger political voice. Who will take the baton next? Go on, get involved. There’s an old gospel song that says we should lift every voice and sing. Let me paraphrase that for us now – “Lift Every Pen and Vote.” Make women the difference, the deciders.
Remember we weren’t given the right to vote. We had to take it. But Suffrage is the norm now. And your voice needs to be respected.