The year 2020 will long be remembered for the disasters it brought in its wake. We were anticipating a momentous year for different reasons. We were all geared up to celebrate the centennial of women’s suffrage. A presidential election year is always exciting with the promise of change and this year in particular we hoped to win the Senate and the White House. We were optimistically planning our political activities, hoping to build on the successes of the midterms and the 2019 Virginia elections which heralded the emergence of women political leaders across the nation.
And then came the pandemic, creeping up on us stealthily. By mid-March the country had shut down. With mounting infections and fatalities, growing unemployment lines, shuttered restaurants and shops, the misery index of the population started to grow as rapidly as food and income insecurity. The cynical and callous response by the Trump administration resulted in making America great in terms of the number of dead and infected. We broke the world record. In the midst of this unprecedented crisis, candidates had to adjust their political calendars and tactics, with uncertainty the only certain factor.
We had to deal with catastrophic natural disasters in addition to the pandemic: hurricanes, fires, and flooding, a direct result of the ravages of climate change. And then in this summer of our confinement and distress, civil rights issues took center stage with the Black Lives Matter movement exploding with each new case of police brutality and racial baiting. And still COVID-19 infections and deaths kept mounting. Schools and businesses remained closed into the fall and in this disastrous mix the political season started heating up.
As we approach October, a month before the most important election in decades, we are confronted with another tragedy. The passing of a feminist icon, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And the beginning of a possible constitutional crisis. Will the Republican majority in the Senate adhere to their own rules or will they exhibit the same lack of integrity and disregard for fair play as they have demonstrated in the last three years? This remains the question on every mind with justice and humanity hanging in the balance. There is so much at stake—the threat to Roe v Wade and to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Then there is the fate of Social Security, the rights of immigrants, education policy, foreign policy, and finally the threat to democracy itself. And in the background are the usual reverberations—interference by foreign actors in our elections, voter suppression and intimidation by the president and his henchman, proliferation of lies and propaganda, and manipulation of voters through social media platforms.
RBG leaves behind a powerful legacy. Her strategy of single-mindedly pursuing success resulted in landmark wins for women. A tragedy in this year of the Centennial of Suffrage, RBG’s death reminds us that our fight is never over.
Today as we brace ourselves for an ugly fight over her replacement by a ruthless and immoral majority leader of the Senate, we have only one recommendation, one suggestion, one admonition. VOTE: Just vote. Get everyone you know to vote. That is what will save the legacy of the heroic woman who dwarfed the giants around her. That is what RBG would ask of you. Just Vote.
President, Woman’s National Democratic Club
September 24, 2020