Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Party of Susan B. Anthony

The Republican Party isn't sexist.  It's the "Party of Susan B. Anthony" according to Marsha Blackburn, who noted that the first woman to vote was a Republican.  Try to vote, anyway, as Anthony was subsequently indicted by an all-male grand jury and ultimately found guilty of the infraction and forced to pay a fine for illegally voting in the 1872 Presidential election, presumably casting her vote for U.S. Grant.

Ms. Blackburn doesn't mention any names.  She sufficiently blurs the edges of her references, like singling out that the first female member of Congress was a Republican (Jeanette Rankin} who actually served before universal women's suffrage, as Montana allowed women to vote and represent the state prior to 1919.  I guess for Marsha, it is only firsts that matter.

The Push for the 19th amendment
After the Nineteenth amendment was passed during Wilson's administration, which she conveniently doesn't reference, the first 8 out of 10 female governors were Democrats, as the Democratic Party had essentially adopted the progressive agenda after the Republican Party had turned its back on Progressivism.

In fact, the grass roots level of this ideology can be traced to William Jennings Bryan, who delivered his famous "Cross of Gold" speech at the 1896 Democratic Convention.  He strongly supported Women's Suffrage.  Bryan won the Democratic nomination only to lose to McKinley in the general election.

This was a theme Teddy Roosevelt ran with in his 1904 re-election bid, much to the chagrin of the Grand Old Party, which had become a Party of Plutocrats.  But, even TR couldn't deliver on universal suffrage.  In fact, he didn't fully endorse women's suffrage until 1912, when he made a second bid for the White House as a Progressive candidate, much to the chagrin of the GOP, who felt he split the Republican vote and gave the election to the Democrats.  Taft was their man.

Kennedy signing the Equal Pay Act, 1963
Ms. Blackburn doesn't expect her listeners to delve too deeply into any of this.  She just wants her listeners to note the R by the name of prominent early women's suffrage leaders, so that it is understood that Republicans long supported equal rights.  If that is the case then why is it so difficult for contemporary Republicans to embrace an Equal Pay Bill?  After all, they voted overwhelmingly for the Equal Pay Act of 1963.

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