Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Undernews: Flotsam & Jetsam: Some ideas take a long time

Undernews: Flotsam & Jetsam: Some ideas take a long time

Flotsam & Jetsam: Some ideas take a long time

Sam Smith - This election has special meaning for me in a couple of ways. It serves as an argument for patience and persistence in ways I sometimes almost given up on. First, DC will choose its first elected DA, something I started proposing along with DC statehood over 40 years ago. And in my current home state of Maine, there is an aggressive movement to put ranked choice voting on the ballot, a project that began with the forming of the indefatigable group, Fair Vote, in my then DC living room 22 years ago.

It's a point activists can easily miss out of frustration and impatience, something I noted in my book, Why Bother? 

Those who think history has left us helpless should recall the abolitionist of 1830, the feminist of 1870, the labor organizer of 1890, or the gay or lesbian writer of 1910.  They, like us, did not get to choose their time in history but they, like us, did get to choose what they did with it.

Knowing what we know now about how it's turned out, would we have been abolitionists in 1830?

Knowing what we know now would we have joined abolitionist and feminist Lydia Maria Child who recognized she would not live to see women's suffrage, but said that when it happened, "I'll come and rap at the ballot box?"

In 1848, 300 people gathered at Seneca Falls, NY, for a seminal moment in the American women's movement. They recorded a long list of grievances including the lack of access to higher education, the professions, and the pulpit; the lack of equal pay for equal work; the lack of property and child custody rights.

On November 2, 1920, 91 year-old Charlotte Woodward Pierce became the only signer of the Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions who had lived long enough to cast a ballot for president. Would we have attended that conference? Would we have bothered?

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."