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Cincinnati Today: Kate Black: Women hold the power this election

August 25, 2016

Cincinnati Today: Kate Black: Women hold the power this election

by Kate Black

Every so often, it’s important to take a step back and remember one simple fact: In 2016, there are women alive who were born before women had the right to vote. Today, we are fighting to elect a woman as president of the United States.

This Women’s Equality Day, that truth is more powerful than ever. For women, the United States was founded on a promise of equality that its politicians did not deliver. Now, 240 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, we finally have the chance to elect a woman to an office that for centuries, held leaders who did everything in their power to hold women back.

Today, despite the torrent of daily sexist and gendered insults, Hillary Clinton fights on.

She is not alone. Every woman who runs for office, in Ohio and across the country, has her own story to tell of the struggles she’s faced. But candidates take on these fights with the knowledge that American women have an unprecedented opportunity right now to change the face of politics.

I’m not only talking about our candidates, but the millions of women voters who, because of the 19th Amendment and the women’s equality movement, have a chance to have a say in who is running our country and what policies they enact.

Women have the power – and with it, the duty – to decide elections. Making up 53 percent of the electorate, women are also among the most reliable demographics of voters. We consistently outnumber men at the polls. In the 2012 election, while national turnout was 57.5 percent, approximately 64.9 percent of eligible women voted; they decided the election for President Obama, and they will do the same this cycle. Women are the ones who show up.

We vote in these numbers because we know that elections and representation matter. In 2012, we saw the largest gender gap in history – 20 points – in the general election. We could see an even larger one with Donald Trump at the top of the ticket, because seven out of ten women simply do not like him. No wonder, when he calls women “pigs” and “bimbos” and advocates “some sort of punishment” for women who have abortions.

This year, the choice could not be clearer. For decades, the Republican Party has spent election after election chipping away at fundamental pieces of legislation that ensure not only equality for women, but for all Americans.

Across the country, our right to reproductive health care and agency over our own bodies is steadily being erased by – primarily male – Republican lawmakers. Voter identification laws are explicitly designed to make it more difficult for women and men of color to exercise their democratic right of suffrage. Bills that would fight to end sexual assault, prevent gun violence, and ensure equal pay for equal work languish in committee if they are not struck down altogether.

We have so much work to do as a nation – and wielding the hard-fought power of our vote this year to keep a well-known misogynist and the party that supports him out of office is more important than ever.

But it’s one final fact that keeps us going when the days are hard, when Donald Trump says something awful and the Republican Party establishment nods along:We know that when women and girls see themselves reflected in positions of power, they believe that they too can achieve success.

How many young girls across this country saw Hillary Clinton accept the Democratic Party’s nomination a few weeks ago and thought, “I can be president, too”?

In the spirit of the suffragettes and civil rights activists whom we celebrate today, we fight not only for the first woman president this election, but for the second, third, fourth and fifth who are inspired by this moment – and this movement.