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A short history lesson on the privilege of voting

By Leocthasme

Well, ol' Leo C. ain't much of a historian, but I found something interesting concerning such things that ain't necessarily in the History Books our kids read in school now days. But, then this sort of information wasn't in my History Books either when I went to school, way back when. But, here is a little story about the right to vote and a movie about it too.

"The women were innocent and defenseless. And, by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of "obstructing sidewalk traffic."

"They beat Lucy Burn, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air. They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

"Thus unfolded the "Night of Terror" on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote. For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms. When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until someone smuggled the word out to the press."

So, refresh my memory. Some women (and men too) won't vote this year because--why, exactly?

We have carpool duties???
We have to get to work???
Our vote doesn't matter???
It's raining???
We just don't have the time to waste on stupid politicians???
Those morons in office never get a thing done anyway???

HBO' had a movie, "Iron Jawed Angels". It was a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that other women could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have a say. Check out HBO and other channels to see if that movie is still around. We all may need the reminder of what it takes to be a free society, and the privilege of the "Right To Vote". You might also find this movie on DVDs or VHS at rental outlets.

Voting and voter registration is still my passion. But, sometimes the actual act of voting becomes less personal. Sometimes voting often feels more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it is just plain inconvenient.

All of us take the "Right To Vote" for granted now, not just the younger generation. Many of us did seek to learn how many Americans since 1776 fought and struggled for the "Right To Vote," not only the women who had to fight for it but the minority Americans who had to fight for it too. When our country was young, the "Right To Vote" for every citizen was not a part of the constitution. Only 'gentlemen' and landowners had the privilege in the beginning. After the war of 1812, veterans (men only, then) got the right whether or not they were 'gentlemen' or landowners But then, it took another century after that for women and minorities to get the "Right To Vote". It's something that needs to become valuable, all over again, to every American.

Well, I am sure that everyone who knows ol' Leo C. also pretty well figured out that he is a dyed in the wool, yellow dog, Democrat, and ol' Leo C. also knows that Woodrow Wilson was a Democrat too, but that ain't an excuse. And, of course, he hates to admit that sometimes Democrats can be wrong. But then, it was jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it was inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy. The doctor admonished the men: "Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity."

I suppose the 'Courage' of any group that fights for civil rights is often mistaken for insanity.

    Leo C. Tha's Me.

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Reader Comments

Name: Bruce Clifford Email:
Comment: I live in Florida. Will my vote make a diference?????????



Name: Mike Email:
Comment: Bravo Leo! Now here is a subject I can whole-heartedly agree with you on. Folks, if you are eligble to vote, then you ought to. Otherwise think about another place to live. Because if you don't stand up and raise your voice with your vote, you will soon find this is a whole other place. I find it amazing the the lower and middle class outnumber the richer upper class by so many. And yet laws keep getting changed in favor of the rich. Protecting their corporations and lightening their tax "burden", when they should be paying more. Don't you suppose that this could be because approximately one out of two persons won't vote? And maybe that those who do vote are the ones getting their laws passed and protecting their interests? Don't you suppose it's time to protect your own? GET OUT AND VOTE! You can register online at Be a real patriot. Vote.



Name: Clara Email:
Comment: Thank you, Leo! Your wonderful essay should be required reading for all the apathetic types out there. Even if the election doesn't go the way we want it to, we can at least register our opinion and "dilute" the "mandate." Voting is a privilege that has been paid for with lives.



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