Holding the party in power responsible

Title

Holding the party in power responsible

Description

Imagine it’s next year. The Democrats control the House, the Senate, the White House. You’re a Dreamer working to pass immigration reform to make you and your family full citizens. It’s been 35 years with no progress. But the Democrats won’t move the bill. What do you do? 🧵

One of Alice Paul/Lucy Burns' innovations was to hold the Democrats responsible for their inaction on suffrage. In 1914, Democrats controlled Congress and the presidency. Suffragists had a small but respectable base of Congressional support, but suffrage wasn’t a party priority.

When Woodrow Wilson championed a bill, Congress had passed it. But Wilson refused to promote suffrage. Until then, suffrage politics had been all carrot, no stick. The 1st generation were abolitionists closely aligned w/Republicans, but for decades NAWSA had been non-partisan.

They feared that taking sides, playing rough & making demands was “unfeminine,” a suffragist stereotype they were determined to disprove. Alice preferred to flex and show some power.

Her approach was to hold ALL Democrats responsible for the party’s failure to move suffrage. Even the sympathizers. Exempting the supporters would leave them to bear the irritation of their peers - the strategy only worked if the whole party felt pressure.

In practice, Alice’s group - at this point called the Congressional Union - would target a few swing districts where they might be able to shift the balance of power. See a clipping from the Woman’s Journal with a very even-handed description of the plan.

Holding the party in power responsible was a Pankhurst tactic. The NAWSA leadership was appalled. To them it was aggressive, ungrateful, and naive. Anna Shaw & Carrie Catt insisted that what worked in a parliamentary democracy wouldn’t work in the U.S.

Lucy & Alice argued that with the Democrats in full control, it should. “Rarely in the history of the country has a party been more powerful than the Democratic Party is today,” said Lucy Burns to the NAWSA convention at the end of 1913.

“Those who hold power are responsible to the country for the use of it. They are responsible not only for what they do, but for what they do not do. Inaction establishes just as clear a record as does a policy of open hostility.” #Suffrage100 #19thAmendment Jul 23, 2020

Creator

Daily Suffragist

Date

22/07/2020

Files

EdkzfH9XYAIferg.jpg
Daily Suffragist on Twitter- -In practice- Alice’s group - at this point called the Congressional Union - would target a few swing districts where they might be able to shift the balance of power- See a clipping fr.png

Citation

Daily Suffragist, “Holding the party in power responsible,” Daily Suffragist, accessed October 19, 2021, https://dailysuffragist.omeka.net/items/show/460.

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