Friday, August 27, 2010

August 26, 2010

Ninety years ago today the 19th Amendment became law. Women got the right to vote--the largest act of enfranchisement, the New York Times points out, in our history. I think they've done pretty well with it.
     I mean, we had some fine presidents when it was just us guys--Jefferson and Lincoln, and so on. But we also had the Polks and the Fillmores and the Garfields--quite a few of those. Since the women got to play, we've had Herbert Hoover--well, nobody's perfect--but we've also had some brilliant men--Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman (just think about the decisions he had to make--should he drop the first atomic bomb, should he send US troops to Korea, and so on), Lyndon Johnson (great domestic success but also the disastrous decision to send half a million troops to Vietnam), Dwight Eisenhower, and yes, Barack Obama who has had, I think, a pretty good run so far.
        . It hasn't worked out quite as well with mayors in some cities, of course, but nobody's perfect.
     Looking back, it's hard to remember what all the fuss was about. But a fuss there surely was. When Congress passed the 14th Amendment after the Civil War, giving blacks the right to vote, Republicans carefully added the word "male" saying states couldn't deny voting rights to "any of (their) male inhabitants."
     Progress comes, at least sometimes.

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