A Choice — The 1920’s or The 2020’s

A Choice --  The 1920s or The 2020s

Paul Stutz


By:  Paul Stutz


November 8th is Election Day.  That is the day when we Americans get to decide how we want to live going forward.  Do we want to acknowledge that we are living in the 2020s or do we want to turn the clock back to the 1920s?

On August 18, 1920 the 19th Amendment to the Constitution guaranteed that no American citizen could be denied the right to vote based solely on gender.  This was a huge step forward for a civilized nation – the fact that it took 144 years to accomplish this notwithstanding.  Sadly, it took another 45 years for black people to be guaranteed this right in all 50 states, no matter what their gender.  A hundred years after slavery officially ended, they were all free to vote, at last.  A mere 3 years earlier, there were some states that still criminalized same-sex sexual activity.  And it has only been since 2015 that all 50 states recognized same-sex marriage.

So, what was life like in America in the early 1920s?  Well, if one was fortunate enough to be born a white Christian male and he at least pretended to be heterosexual, that person had a distinct advantage over everybody else.  Whether it was higher education, a professional career or housing opportunities, the world (at least this part of the world) was his oyster.  He did not have to worry about competition from women, minorities or openly gay or lesbian people.   However, events of the last 100 years have eroded this built-in advantage.  With more and more people being granted rights that should have been  no-brainers from the beginning of our Republic, everybody is now on a more-or-less equal footing.  In order to succeed in life, one has to study hard in school and work hard at their chosen profession.  Fair and just competition guarantees that the best people will succeed in keeping America great.

This concept of fairness seems to be lost on many millions of people across the country.  They would like very much for our nation to revert to the way it was back in the good old days – the early 1900s.  They want to make America great again – the way it was before we elected a black President and before girls and women had such prominent roles in our society and before gay people were finally able to come out of the closet and live their lives like everyone else.  And they vote for people who are sympathetic to their frustrations.   All across the country, there are candidates running for local and state-wide offices who tap into these fears and frustrations.  They may or may not feel the same way, but they know what to say to persuade people to vote for them.

On the other hand, there are millions of people who acknowledge the progress we have made in the last 100 years and are comfortable with it.  They realize that this country will prosper and grow stronger only if each of its citizens is granted a fair and equal chance to succeed, no matter what characteristics they were born with.  And there are candidates in each state who share those values and will do their best to represent all of their constituents accordingly.  Thus, the huge decision all voters have to make on November 8th – do we want to live in the 1920s or the 2020s?

The right to vote is one of our most cherished rights and one of our most critical responsibilities.  Elections have consequences, as we have seen repeatedly in recent years.  There are some very serious issues before us.  How we wish to spend the rest of our days is squarely on the ballot in November.  However, one feels about these issues, the most important thing anyone can do is to vote.  Declining to do so is not an option.