Many years ago, this newspaper interviewed a resident of the Jewish Home and Rehabilitation Center in Jersey City (now the Jewish Home at Rockleigh) who claimed to have been the first woman to vote in the state of New Jersey and, even after being confined to a wheelchair, had never missed a subsequent election. We were moved by her story and her determination – and though we were familiar with the history of women’s suffrage, we were startled by the realization that that first vote had been cast not so long ago, in 1920.
Actually, women in New Jersey – white women, anyway – were given the right to vote in 1776, but the state took it away from them in 1807, granting it only to free, male, white citizens. It took until 1920 for the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the vote, to be passed and for this state to ratify it.
We were reminded of that proud and diligent voter as we watched the Hillary Clinton Show Tuesday night. That voter (whose name, pre-digital archiving, has slipped out of history) would have been cheering, along with the rest of the crowd at the Democratic National Convention, this nation’s first viable woman candidate for president. She would also, undoubtedly, have been crying tears of frustration and anger, as well as sorrow, at what many perceive as a loss, a blow, for all women.
Yet how far we have come, men and women alike – and Hillary Clinton has helped bring us along. Remember when Clinton was pilloried because she did not bake cookies? Remember how pundits scorned her hairdo without appreciating the brains beneath it? Women in (and out of) politics are treated with greater respect and a higher seriousness because Clinton demanded that they be. We are sure that some day, because of women like that proud voter and Hillary Clinton, a woman will lead this country, and lead it well.
Meanwhile, in the last presidential election cycle, we invited The Jewish Standard’s staff and some friends to suggest “the ideal president across time – and space.” Nominees could be anyone who ever lived – or even who never lived. Suggestions ranged from Moses to Benjamin Franklin to Golda Meir to Capt. Jean-Luc Picard of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Now – particularly because the second slot on the ticket is so much in the news – we invite you, dear readers, to nominate your own “dream team,” anyone at all “across time – and space,” anyone except the present contenders. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org, and tell us why your choices deserve everyone’s (imaginary) vote.