Wednesday, July 4, 2012

women's suffrage

One more voting story: as a third generation native of Colorado, I have long been proud of the fact that my state was one of the first to give women the right to vote. Now that I know more of the background, it seems more like a good thing for a not-so-good reason.

Women's suffrage was part of the Populist party platform that won majorities in Colorado in the 1892 elections. But a major reason the newly empowered lawmakers voted to let women vote was to diminish the electoral power of unmarried miners, who were viewed as transients and radical. Women, on the other hand, were considered settled and socially conservative.

 [By the way, my foray into Colorado history also has made me re-think my embarrassment over the fact that a governor and several other major officials who won office in 1923-24 were proud members of the Ku Klux Klan. Yes, the Klan was nativist, anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic and anti-Negro. But in Colorado its members were engaged less on those issues than on fighting political corruption. And the Klan was viewed more as a social organization like masonic lodges than a  political action group. The winning candidates had broad coalitions, not just the Klan. So there was "some good in the worst of us."]

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