Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Thanks Given - Day Six

Well, today is an easy one. I'm thankful for the privilege of VOTING!

I had to Google whether voting is a privilege or a right in this country. Turns out, the US Constitution mentions the "Right to Vote" five times - more than freedom of speech or freedom of religion. However, I would argue that on the worldwide scale, I consider it my privilege. And, maybe it's just the privilege of living in a country in which voting is a right. Maybe it's the privilege of going to a poll and knowing my vote (and all of our votes) will count. Or, maybe it's that I don't have to go to the polls that are guarded by the military with guns. Maybe it's just that I get to go to a little country church a mile down the road and I don't have to travel long distances to my polling place. Either way, I'm thankful that I get to do it.

It may have been mentioned five times in the Constitution, but somehow women and minority citizens had to fight for their right to vote. In 1870, we had the Fifteenth Amendment allowing all citizens, regardless of "race, color or previous condition of servitude" to vote. Apparently, there was some controversy between this suffrage movement and the women's suffrage movement. Some of the big players in the women's movement did not support this amendment because it did not allow all people to vote. Others believed that by enfranchising the black population, the women's movement would gain more traction. Either way, it passed with Tennessee being the last to ratify in 1997. (What?!? More research to be done here...)

In 1920, the 19th Constitutional Amendment had to be passed stating that right would not be limited by sex. This Amendment took much longer to come to fruition. Women were fighting for the right to vote since the 15th Amendment (part of the Reconstruction Movement) in 1870. Fifty years later, the 19th Amendment passed and women could vote too. (Not that I'm a Constitutional scholar or anything but it seems that neither of these Amendments would not be necessary if it was mentioned that many times as a right.) Mississippi was the last to ratify this one in 1984.

Look how happy these suffragettes are... I think I'll leave the polling place playing my trumpet today. :)

So, right or privilege, is still debatable in my mind. I'll take it either way and make my way to the polls today. I'm picking the girls up from school and bringing them along with me. I remember voting at a "kid's" poll once when my mom voted and I'm carrying on the tradition of bringing my kids along. It's so important to pass this torch to our children and hope that they never take it for granted. 

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