This was published as an op-ed in the November 23, 2012 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper.
On November 8 (the day after the election), the NY Times had an article in their style section titled: “NH’s All-Mother Congressional Delegation (and Governor),” written by KJ Dell’ Antonia. Ms. Dell’Antonia writes about how NH has become the first state to send an all female delegation to Congress. Both of our US Senators, and now both of our Congresspersons are all women. So is our new governor. Not only are they women – they’re all mothers. OMG! Imagine that!
It’s clear that we haven’t come a long way, baby. Not when women are writing stories for the NY Times with awful headlines, focusing on how all these women are mommies. If we’d elected an all male delegation, it would not have been a story, just business as usual. And no writer would have commented that all of these men are daddies, wondering how that might impact their decision-making.
Switzerland has had four women presidents, including one that served two terms. Finland, Iceland, Ireland, and Argentina have all had female leaders. Right now there are 20 women around the world serving as leaders of their countries – the most ever women serving simultaneously as leaders of their countries. Argentina, Brazil, Australia, Kosovo, Costa Rica and Slovakia are some of those countries.
Here in the US, we still appear to be light years away from a woman serving as our chief executive. Instead, we have the NY Times breathlessly praising an all female Congressional delegation, 92 years after the passage of the 19th Amendment. Make no mistake: I’m delighted that NH is making history. I know that Carol Shea-Porter and Ann McLane Kuster will be fine Congresspersons. At the same time, I also know that women in the United States earn less than their male counterparts, and are underrepresented politically. So, yes, this is an outcome worth noticing and praising, but it’s also worth keeping in perspective. In other words – it is indeed a big deal, but the fact that it is noteworthy only underscores how very far behind we are.
Some history: Marilla Ricker paved the way for all women who run for office in NH. Marilla was widowed (and financially independent) before she was thirty and spent the next 50 years working to ensure women got the right to vote. She was the first woman in NH to try to vote, arguing that since she paid property taxes, she should have the right to vote. In 1910, a progressive Republican named Robert Bass was running for governor. Marilla decided to challenge him. She ran on a platform of property tax reform (Basses and property tax – nothing ever changes in NH) and voting rights for women. The secretary of state wouldn’t put her name on the ballot because, he said, she wasn’t a voter, so she couldn’t be governor. Nine year later NH became the 16th state to ratify the 19th Amendment.
The next year, NH women voted. They ran for office, too. Two of them won. The first women to be elected to the NH legislature were Jessie Doe, a Republican from Rollinsford and Mary Farnum, a Democrat from Boscawen. Jessie Doe served one term after her election in 1920, and then ran (and won) again in 1930. In 1932 she was a delegate to the Republican National Convention. UNH named a residence hall after her in 1964.
Mary Farnum was a physician who graduated from the Boston University School of Medicine in 1900. She was elected to the NH legislature in 1920. She served as the vice president and secretary of the NH Association of Women Legislators during her term. Dr. Farnum only served one term, but in 1922, three more women were elected to the legislature. In 1924 more than a dozen women were elected, some in near unanimous votes. At long last there were women voting and women holding office. Eventually there were women in leadership positions in our state. Eventually, there may be a woman serving as president of the United States. That is, if we continue to have a United States. One of the more amusing outcomes of our recent election has been the number of states bleating about secession. Texas has revived their desire to secede. I say: let ‘em go. Before they head out the back door, however, they have to take their share of the federal debt with them. Oh, and no more gummint contracts and no more defense dollars. Thank you, and have a nice day.
Meanwhile, secession talk (and petitions) are underway in Georgia, Alabama, Virginia, Tennessee, both Carolinas, Arkansas, and Mississippi. Are you seeing a theme yet?
It’s sad when you think about it. These people were so desperate to oust the black guy from the White House that they chose the whitest, least charismatic Republican they could find – and now they’re so miffed that he lost that they want to leave the union. Seriously, they couldn’t find anyone better than Romney? I say, let ‘em go. Of course, it would mean no more red state welfare. All of those states (save for Texas) get back more than a dollar for every tax dollar they send in. Mississippi is in second place, getting back $2.02 for every tax dollar. No more red state welfare, no more gummint contracts, and take your portion of the debt with you. Buh-bye.
Naturally NH wouldn’t be left out of the fun. Someone named “Kevin A” from Conway has filed a petition at whitehouse.gov to secede. A new group calling themselves the Foundation for NH Independence has secession as their goal. This is also the goal of the Free State Project. Some of the (all male) board members of the Foundation for NH Independence are Free Staters. In Manchester, two Free Staters who are roommates ran against one another for a state rep seat. One ran as a Republican and one as a Democrat. The Democrat, Tim O’Flaherty won. He’s said on his Facebook page that he’s in favor of secession. Next month, he is supposed to swear an oath to uphold the NH and the US Constitution. Will he be honest enough to refuse to swear the oath? Or will he just cross his fingers behind his back? Isn’t running for office under false pretenses considered election fraud?