By Hanu Karlapalem
The United States has many reasons to be proud. I am proud of this nation. In just ten generations we have overcome state-supported slavery, Jim Crow laws, and the suppression of women’s rights. We have adopted the 19th Amendment, civil and voting rights legislation. We have reduced poverty, and created public education, defeated despots on the battlefield, and demagogues at home. We did not accomplish these goals because of who we are; we accomplished them because of what we did. Remarkable people of good will and deep resolve recognized the shortcomings within us and demanded change.
There is much more to be done. Racism, violence, hatred, sexism, and xenophobia still find many welcoming hearts in our country. We have elected officials at every level who are leading us backward towards bigotry, misogyny, and economic slavery. Our liberties, the free press, and the agencies that are created to protect us and administer justice are under attack. We already have moved from a democracy to a “flawed democracy”.
Freedom House, in a recent study, found that ethical standards and transparency are becoming less common among our elected officials at all levels of government. We are enduring partisan and foreign manipulations of our electoral system, a biased and sometimes dysfunctional justice system, the influence of dark money, and a widening gap in wealth and political influence. We have not faced such challenges for generations.
Women are responding. Women have fought poverty, opposed slavery and racism, championed civil rights, and contributed to the advancements in science, arts, and many other areas of human endeavor. They have done so while enduring discrimination and often abuse and violence.
Although millions of men continue the fight, the power of women is more important today than ever. They have volunteered with their votes, their words, and their indomitable spirit to lead us past the trials we now face. Women also are demanding more from our nation, and rightfully so. The #MeToo movement is saying in no uncertain terms that women are done with abuse and discrimination. Women’s voices are yelling out for equality.
Our nation cannot claim to be a democracy unless the fruits of that democracy are available to all the people. Every child should have the equal opportunity to realize her dreams regardless of gender, race, faith, and national origin.
To the women here today, never has a nation been so indebted to so many for so long. Our nation must be reborn in the traditions of tolerance, peace, civility, non-violence, and equality. When it is, it will have the strongest Founding Mothers that the world has ever seen. Persist! Vote! Run for office for school boards, cities, states, counties, and at the federal level. Start businesses. Protect our democracy! Thank you!
Hanu Karlapalem is a candidate for Limestone County (AL) Commission District 3 and a member of the Tennessee Valley Progressive Alliance.