The Democrats delayed women’s suffrage for half a century.
Nancy Pelosi recently spoke at the Public Policy Institute of California, where she repeated a story about a supernatural visitation she claims to have received in the Oval Office. Yes, you read that correctly. She says she was meeting with President Bush shortly after being elected House Minority Leader where she was joined by the spirits of Susan B. Anthony and other legendary feminists who exultantly told her, “At last, we have a seat at the table.” In reality, if Anthony could actually speak to Pelosi it would be to rebuke her for betraying the cause by becoming a Democrat.
The Democratic Party was the primary obstacle in the way of women’s suffrage for half a century until the Republicans finally passed the Nineteenth Amendment — codifying the right of women to vote. Democrat obstruction of suffrage led Anthony’s National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) to support Republican President Grant’s 1872 reelection campaign. Moreover, she shamed the election board of Rochester, NY into registering her to vote (over the protests of the 3-man board’s only Democrat). She cast her ballot on November 5, 1872, for which she was arrested and put on trial.
The Democratic war on women’s suffrage became even more vicious in 1878, when Republican Senator Aaron A. Sargent, a friend of Susan B. Anthony, introduced the Nineteenth Amendment. Congressional Democrats, when they were unable to bottle it up in committee, voted it down every time it reached the floor of either House until 1919, when the GOP won landslide victories in both houses of Congress. James R. Mann, a Republican congressman from Illinois, reintroduced the amendment in the House and it was at long last passed by both houses and subsequently sent to the states for ratification.
The Democrats immediately attempted to take credit for this achievement when President Wilson — a longtime opponent of women’s suffrage — insisted on a public signing ceremony, though no presidential signature is required for such an amendment. Nonetheless, Democrat resistance to women’s suffrage continued unabated. They did their level best to prevent the amendment from being ratified: “Of the nine states that voted against ratification, eight were Democratic.” And yet Nancy Pelosi carries on the disingenuous tradition begun by Wilson with this ridiculous ghost story:
I sit down and… I mean I’m, like I’m squeezed in my chair. And I am thinking: What is this? And I realized Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Alice Paul, Sojourner Truth. All of them. They were all in the chair, right there, with me. They were right there. I’ve never had that experience before or since. They were right there on the chair. And I could hear them say: “At last we have a seat at the table.”
Pelosi’s hallucinations aside, actual women long ago got a seat at the Republican table. In 1869, a Republican Governor (appointed by Grant) made the Wyoming Territory the first American jurisdiction to grant women the vote (thus its nickname, the Equality State.) The first women to serve in Congress, Jeannette Rankin of Montana and Florence Kahn of California, were Republicans. The first women elected to the U.S. Senate, Gladys Pyle and Margaret Chase Smith, were Republicans. Sandra Day O’Connor, first female Supreme Court justice, was appointed by Reagan, ad infinitum.
Meanwhile, the Democrats have perverted the definition of feminism to mean, “pro-abortion.” This would not sit well with Pelosi’s imaginary friends. Serrin M. Foster writes that Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for president, believed, “The rights of children… as individuals, begin while they yet remain the foetus.” Foster also points out that the author of the Equal Rights Amendment denounced abortion as “the ultimate exploitation of women.” Likewise, Sarah F. Norton, who campaigned with Susan B. Anthony to force Cornell to admit women, denounced “the fast increasing crime of fœticide.”
So, knowing that Democratic tales about their role in liberating women are nothing but revisionist propaganda and that genuine feminists like Susan B. Anthony would almost certainly disown what the left now calls “the women’s movement,” what are we to make of Nancy Pelosi’s claim to have been visited by this illustrious group of feminist icons? The story has changed over the years. The first few times she told this ghost story, she described their presence in metaphorical terms. After numerous tellings, however, it has gradually evolved into something like a paranormal experience.
Has Pelosi told this tale so often that she now believes it? Who knows? What matters to the Democrats is that the voters believe the underlying fiction. Pelosi and her accomplices badly need to prevent voters from learning the truth about their long history of suppressing women’s suffrage. They know that, if too many people hear the truth about the roles the two parties actually played in that struggle, it won’t bode well for a party that also has to live down slavery and native-American genocide. Sooner or later the voters will realize there are just too many ghosts haunting the Democrats.
Celebrating Women’s Equality Day in 2010 (Nancy Pelosi/Flickr-Creative Commons)