On August 26th, Americans marked the 95th anniversary of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, after a long and hard-fought battle by suffragists. With its passage in 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment declared it unconstitutional for any effort to disenfranchise any voter on the basis of sex. In 1971, Congress christened August 26th as National Women’s Equality Day to mark the passage of the Amendment and to celebrate the winning of the right to vote for female voters.
I think it’s extremely important to celebrate the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, without which female voters would still be denied a political voice. We should not forget America’s roots. At the founding of this country, the right to vote was limited to land-owning White men; the subsequent two centuries have seen a progressive expansion of civil rights (including voting rights) to encompass marginalized American groups, and this country has been made the better for it. The Nineteenth Amendment was — and is — a crucial victory in the larger war to establish and defend voting rights for disenfranchised groups, and fully deserves our celebration.
But, while the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment did indeed create equality for female voters, it only established ballot box access for some female voters. When we brand August 26th as “Women’s Equality Day”, we forget that voting rights were not won for all women on August 16th, 1920. For many of this nation’s women of colour, voting rights would take up to a half a century longer to be realized; and for many of today’s women of colour, equal ballot box access remains stymied.
Snoopy believes Jeb Bush — son of the country’s 41st president and brother to the country’s 43rd president — will ultimately emerge as the Republican Party’s presidential nominee next year. So it is with particular interest that I watch Bush’s statements on the crowded Republican primary campaign trail right now: what Bush says now could come back to haunt him in the fall of 2016.
Consistent with this prediction, Bush appears to be running in the Republican primary season as a middle-of-the-road conservative. For the most part, he has rejected the radical ideas of his primary opponents, and instead has issued statements designed to ensure appeal to moderate voters in the general election. When Donald Trump declared last week that he would back trade embargos against Mexico and a Constitutional amendment to reduce or eliminate the birthright citizenship standard, most of the other Republican candidates followed suit; Jeb broke from the pack with an ardent support of birthright citizenship as “a constitutional right”.
Just when I was on the verge of writing a post titled “Jeb Bush: The Voice of Reason”, however, Bush couldn’t help but remind us that he’s still running in a primary race that has become little more than a clown car of hate. Asked to clarify and defend his use of the term “anchor babies” — a term referring to the US-born children of immigrants who have American citizenship by birthright, and a phrase that is implicitly racist and derogatory when used by Republicans — Bush told a reporter yesterday that he doesn’t use the phrase in reference to Latino immigrants.