We Americans talk a big game about voting, but we have not always and do not now walk the walk. When our nation was founded in the late 18th century, the only legal voters were white tax-paying or property-owning men, estimated at about 6% of the new country’s population. Gradually, voting qualifications loosened to include nonproperty owning white men. North Carolina was the last state to do this in 1856 and later included Black men after the Civil War. With the struggle for civil rights in the middle part of the 20th century, and especially the Voting Rights Act of 1965, women of all colors were the cow’s tail of voting, achieving suffrage only 100 years ago, in 1920.
It is no exaggeration to say that Americans fought and died for the right to vote, as have people in other countries. So, to say that I was offended by President Donald Trump’s remarks in North Carolina about voting twice — once by mail and once in person — is no exaggeration. Voting is nothing to make light of, make fun of, or test the waters with. Voting, in my mind at least, is a scared responsibility for every American, every adult’s right to participate in guiding our nation in the path we find most appropriate for us and the rest of humanity.
Trump suggested that North Carolinians and other Americans vote more than once — for him, of course, and what he was actually saying is “commit a felony.” In doing so, he cheapened himself, his office and us, the American voters.
While we are on politics, North Carolina recently received a big fat “D” for women’s participation in the political process. The NC Council for Women and Children and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research finds that only 25% of our legislators are women, as are only two of 13 members of Congress.
And why should we care? Women are not necessarily better legislators than men — some are, and some are not. We are different legislators with different life experiences and different priorities. Our points of view need to be at the public policy table when decisions are made.
U.S. Senator and former presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar says flatly, “Women are held to a higher standard.”
Brianna Wu, a candidate for Congress from Massachusetts, agrees. “…men are given the most generous interpretation possible about who they are and what they want to do, and women are held to the most skeptical, cynical standard possible.”
This is a real phenomenon. So is male privilege.
Everyone — man, woman and child — has COVID-19 fatigue. We are tired of confinement and not spending time with the people we care about. Conversely, we are also tired of spending time with the same people day after day, of working remotely and of shepherding our children through virtual school. We are tired of worrying about the pandemic’s economic effects, not only on our own families but on our state, nation and the rest of the world. That we are having occasional meltdowns and urges to “be free” is no surprise.
That said, we are also having a great time with the amazingly creative and funny side of confinement. Being cooped up has brought out the wacky observer in many of us, and the rest of us are enjoying it. There is the at home COVID-19 test involving sniffing and tasting one’s favorite adult beverage to determine whether those senses remain operational. One friend said she took that test seven times one evening and planned to take it again the next day. My current favorite is an impersonation of a school administrator. Dena Blizzard bills herself as One Funny Mother, and that she is. Check her out for a good laugh, especially for teachers and parents trying to navigate virtual education.