Last month a call went out for Villa residents to check their voting status, thus stirring a mix of reactions ranging from indifference to a positive response.
On the one hand, the belief that “my vote doesn’t really make a difference” or “I’m too old and the outcome doesn’t affect me now,” is countered by the more upbeat belief that we are ALL part of the time and place God intended for us; we should, therefore, take seriously the privilege of deciding how our time in life should be governed. Voting is a major part of doing that.
The system of voting that we see in America today enjoys a long history of ancient tribal societies that elected their own leaders. By the middle of the 5th century, ancient Greece had also developed an early form of democracy and held popular elections in Sparta and Athens. By the end of the century, the Romans had devised their own intricate system of government and prided themselves on their free elections. In both Greece and Rome, women at that time could not own property, had no political rights, and were not eligible to vote.
Modeled on these two great societies, America began its bold democratic experiment in the late 1700s. Despite their belief in the virtues of democracy, however, our founders placed severe limits on voting rights. Some of these restrictions eventually relaxed and by 1856 the requirement for property ownership was no longer a factor in voting eligibility. In 1870 African Americans obtained the right to vote, followed by women in 1920 and Native Americans four years later.
Today as we face another midterm election, we owe allegiance to the nineteenth-century Suffragettes who fought long and hard for women to have a voice. Committed forerunners of our democratic process, they risked insult, ostracism, and imprisonment to guarantee a voice in the way women live today and future generations live tomorrow. Pioneer struggles of the past—join our vote in the present—to make way for hope in the future.
Surely God smiles on our effort!