This is a piece first run for the election eight years ago, and updated a bit for today.
Election Day is not a national holiday, at least not in the traditional sense. But it is the one day that our nation asks something from all of us, even if it’s just a few minutes. If you follow calle ocho through Little Havana in Miami on Election Day, you’ll see a long line houses with the red white and blue of US and Cuban flags stretching off into the horizon. Families sometimes come together across generations, as with any holiday, before they go off to vote. Cuban exiles in Miami are a people that know what it means to be free because freedom and good times are often best measured against their opposite.
Many Americans think that we play “The Star Spangled Banner” at the start of baseball games because it is our National Anthem. In reality, it is our National Anthem largely because it was played at the start of baseball games.
The long list of calls settled itself into the monotone of routine. “Hi, my name is Erik, and I’m calling for Jim Scheibel, your DFL candidate for Mayor of Saint Paul.” The 1989 election was going to be close, so Get Out The Vote (GOTV) calling to loyal Democrats was important. But just as I let the script propel my calls with their own momentum the soft gravely tone on the other end split the evening open.
“Oh, dear, you don’t have to remind me to vote. I’ve been voting ever since they let us.”
We’ve been “letting” women vote for 93 years today, ever since Tennessee ratified the 19th Amendment on August 26th, 1920 by just one vote. This anniversary, “Women’s Equality Day”, is a good time to reflect on how young and precarious this precious foundation of democracy is for half the population.