As we head into the next decade - the Soaring ‘20s - with impending deadlines to defend our sovereignty from foreign interference in the 2020 elections and cool the planet by 2030, I’m struck by the enormity of our challenges.
We’ve risen to the occasion before. My late uncle’s lifelong dedication to the space shuttle is proof of that. (Thanks Dwight!) Now, former astronaut Mark Kelly is running for Congress for Arizona.
This New Year fills me with hope because the checks and balances of our self-government experiment survived the test of the 2016 attack and our rule of law still stands; separating us from the lawless. Virginia will now become the 38th state needed to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, guaranteeing legal equality for men AND women in my lifetime.
It’s wild to think that only 100 years ago when my grandmothers were born they had no representation and no right to vote. Multiple court cases have since proven that the founders didn’t include all races, genders, or religions in the declaration and amendments must be passed to specifically guarantee equal protections for all.
We’re becoming true to what we said on paper, as MLK famously said in 1968.
In August 2020, we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of white women’s right to vote while working to eliminate rampant voter suppression and ensure fair districts.
I hope by then we succeeded at the Supreme Court in affirming discrimination based on gender in employment is illegal (and wrong). The Alliance Defending Freedom argued in front of the Supreme Court in October to re-legalize employment discrimination based on gender, reversing the civil rights act of 1964. They also have 5 open cases on the state level attempting to re-legalize employment discrimination, one of which is Arizona. Freedom is dependent on every generation to participate. We truly are only one generation away from losing progress.
This summer, I learned details about my own ancestry that personalized the rise of white nationalism. My maternal great-grandmother immigrated from Lithuania in 1913 before Lithuania gained its independence as a republic in 1918. She was born into a feudal society. She escaped that destiny by leaving her large family and taking the arduous journey to America in 1913, becoming a naturalized citizen in 1935. If you aren’t familiar with Lithuanian politics, the country was occupied by the armies of the Soviets, Poles and Germans at various times which formed deep seated resentments by the Lithuanians. My great-grandmother only had one surviving child, my grandmother. A detail that was not previously known is that my grandmother ran away to avoid a pre-arranged marriage and eventually married my German grandfather which began a long term estrangement between the generations. This put a new light on my own internal lightbulb that went off in 2016.
After the 2016 election, something snapped inside me. I didn’t fully understand how that outcome happened, but my gut knew lots of bad things were about to start. The past three years have been a whirlwind strengthening my civic, content and leadership muscles. I can only imagine what this period would have felt like without the internet in the 1920's.
I pray for 2020 that we find the courage to come together against a shared enemy, who lied his way into office and accepted foreign interference to win. Self-government requires the consent of the governed and our American experiment rests on three ideals. “These truths” as Jefferson called them - political equality, natural rights and the sovereignty of the people. We must defend these ideals by kicking him out of office and then working to guarantee the blessings of the declaration as guaranteed for all people in this country.