This is as close to a political rant as you’ll ever hear from me. I have many opinions about the state of affairs in my country, most of them very strong ones. They do not belong in this blog because I am a romance writer, not a political commentator. But today is a primary election day where I live.
Because I am a big giant history nerd, I have no qualms about reminding everyone who reads this that the right to vote, to determine our own governance, has been a core value of Americans since before the Constitution was signed or the Declaration of Independence written. Men died for this right in 1774 at Concord and Lexington, even though they were in the minority. It is speculated that no more than one third of the population of the thirteen colonies supported the Revolution. The rest either opposed it or just didn’t care.
More Americans died at Antietam and Gettysburg when our nation had to wrestle with the fact that some state governments denied this same self-determination to people who were born and worked their entire lives here, and were buried in American soil, but whose skin was dark instead of light.
Women did not have to fight and die for the right to vote in the United States, but it took seventy years of steady campaigning and many losses before the Nineteenth Amendment was passed in 1920. Not one woman who led the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York lived to see her dream achieved, but they never gave up. Thanks to them, I am part of the third generation of women in my family who have the right to participate in my own government.
A lot of people in this world do not have access to free elections, or have their lives threatened for voting as they wish. It still happens here. As a child I watched Americans suffer beatings and dog attacks on the nightly news because they protested laws that prevented people from using the vote to make themselves heard. Many of them were arrested. Civil rights workers and leaders in Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee have been lynched, bombed and assassinated in my lifetime. One of the cornerstones of the movement was empowering African-Americans by helping them register to vote.
The worst is that they did not suffer at the hands of foreign powers, but that other Americans resorted to such violence to stop them. The ballot is a better way! If you want a measure passed, or blocked, VOTE. Don’t be the people who don’t care. Vote if you’re red! Vote if you’re blue! But please honor all the Americans who sacrificed their lives and dreams so that you can go to the fire station or the church hall or school and fill out a ballot.