When the women warriors who fought for equal voting rights saw the 19th Amendment become law, they probably did not imagine that 98 years later, we’d still be slogging though the swamp of sexism. But we are. Female folks, please realize that our vote matters more than ever this November.
We are reading in the news that all around the United States, a blue wave is coming. Since "blue" stands for Democrats and "red" stands for Republicans, the blue wave is a metaphor that contrasts starkly with the actual "red tide" of algae and rotting fish that has plagued the beaches of Florida. But the metaphorical blue wave can only surge onto our shores if we vote. On Nov. 6, we can control the tide.
Nationwide, women are running for office in record numbers this election. I’ve had the opportunity to meet two of the young women who are running for Congress against middle-aged men this year. I live in the 23rd Congressional District, where Tatiana Matta is challenging Kevin McCarthy for the seat he has occupied since 2007, and close to the border of the 25th Congressional District, where Katie Hill is running to unseat Steve Knight. Possibly unnecessary explication: The women are Democrats, the men Republicans.
Taitana Matta held a town hall meeting in Bakersfield this August. Town hall meetings are generally held by the congressperson of a district in order to hear local concerns, but McCarthy, aka “My Kevin” in the words of our dear leader, has held town hall meetings quite infrequently. Matta’s choice of what to call her event was political, of course, but it effectively pointed out McCarthy’s lack of attention to the 23rd. The set for her meeting included an empty chair reserved for Rep. McCarthy; Matta answered the questions that McCarthy’s constituents would have liked to ask him, were he to make himself available in this way. Addressing the attendees, Matta was knowledgeable, passionate and accessible. The room was largely friendly to her, but she did not shy away from responding thoughtfully to some hostile questions. After meeting her and seeing her in action, I can say that Tatiana Matta has my vote.
Katie Hill debated Steve Knight in Palmdale in September. Unlike McCarthy, Knight was physically present for his event. He and his answers to the debate questions were glossy and practiced. Hill’s answers came across as less canned. She was smart, practical and energetic. Her enthusiastic and button-wearing supporters clearly outnumbered Knight’s among the audience. In my opinion, Hill won the debate.
Both Tatiana Matta and Katie Hill impressed me with their personal confidence and their sensible policy proposals. At the Hill-Knight debate, you could almost hear the song running through the heads of the Republican operatives in the room: “There may be trouble ahead …” You could sense their worry that Katie Hill could actually win this thing in the 25th. Trouble, indeed. Tatiana Matta is at a greater disadvantage in the 23rd District, according to the poll numbers, but in my wild dreams, she could spell trouble ahead for McCarthy. Both of these California women are part of the group of 235 women who are running for the House of Representatives this year, and who just might win some important elections.
The presence of women in elected positions in our country matters in terms of true and proper representation. We women are 50.8 percent of the population, but we currently make up only 20 percent of Congress, 23.4 percent of state executives, and 25.5 percent of state legislators. We are under-represented. We are too often overlooked, or ignored, or mansplained to, or patted on the head (or other body parts), or otherwise patronized. But 2018 is our year to win elections. We have voices and ideas and opinions that will benefit the nation and the world. The women who are ready to fill these elected offices are fresh and fired up and fearless. All we have to do to affect and direct the future is to vote. The future is female, but only if we vote. The predicted blue wave only swells and crests if we vote. And the only trouble ahead for our children and grandchildren is if we don’t vote, if we dishonor our foremothers who fought so fiercely for our enfranchisement, if we are too complacent to carry on their work and fulfill their dream of equal rights. Rise up, women. It’s time to roar.