Tuesday, Aug. 18, and the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote is behind us, setting the stage for Nov. 3.
This week also marks the third time that a major political party has put forward a female vice presidential nominee. Remember Democrat Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, former Vice President and Minnesota U.S. Sen. Walter Mondale’s running mate? In 2008, U.S. Sen. John McCain added Sarah Palin to the GOP ticket. This week, former Vice President Joe Biden and Kamala Harris — both a woman and a person of color — officially became the 2020 Democratic duo.
So where does this put us heading toward Nov. 3, Election Day?
The nation has yet to see a woman president or vice president — although Hillary Rodham Clinton came close by winning the popular vote four years ago but ultimately losing to Donald Trump, who carried the Electoral College.
We remind readers that women today represent slightly more than half the U.S. population, yet they make up less than 24% of Congress. Not too impressive.
Minnesota’s two senators are both women — Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith — while Angie Craig, Betty McCollum and Ilhan Omar represent three of seven congressional districts. That’s half.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin has Sen. Tammy Baldwin. In the House, however, men hold seven of the eight seats; Gwen Moore is the sole woman. That’s only 20%.
We invite readers as the nation swings into all-out campaign season to reflect that the battle for equal voting rights didn’t end with the 19th Amendment. That suffrage success was a key step, true, but primarily for white women.
What about Asian Americans, Black Americans, Mexican Americans and Native Americans?
Some Native American tribes, despite being here first, weren’t offered official U.S. citizenship until 1924.
Two decades later, the United States repealed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1943, opening up all kinds of rights for descendants of Chinese immigrants.
The Voting Rights Act in 1965 gave all Black people the right to vote.
What about the poor and the illiterate? They all too often are women, especially minority women.
In 1964, the states ratified the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution making poll taxes illegal. Until then, states could require people to pay before voting in federal elections. No money, no vote.
The Voting Rights Act a year later banned literacy tests as a prerequisite to voting. Couldn’t read, couldn’t vote.
Today we may view the 19th Amendment as all encompassing, but in actuality it was a milestone.
Women have come far in a century, but not far enough. Indigenous people and people of color have come far in a century, but not far enough.
That means the nation has far to go.
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