Mattel’s Barbie isn’t just for kids anymore. Yep, at the age of … we won’t go there … I bought myself some Barbies. I also turned into my mother and vowed never to get them out of the box, but that’s a whole other story.
So, what led me down the toy aisle, you ask? Well, I just couldn’t resist Campaign Team Barbie! This particular set of Barbies has a female candidate, a female campaign manager, a female campaign fundraiser, and the most important — a female voter.
Now, on its face, it may not sound all that interesting, but it really is something special when you consider our nation’s history. Campaign Team Barbie is a nod to a momentous anniversary our nation will see later this month. Aug. 18, 2020, commemorates the 100-year anniversary that the Women’s Right to Vote was ratified (made official).
I usually leave the history lessons to Judge Hejmanowski and his weekly column because, well, he’s a much better historian, but walk with me nonetheless, down memory (or history) lane. It was in the early 1800s that women began to organize and request the right to vote. It wasn’t until the late 1800s, however, that the 19th Amendment was even introduced into Congress, and it would languish there for many more years.
The 19th Amendment to the Constitution is what solidified the Women’s Right to Vote. This amendment was part of a larger movement known as Women’s Suffrage, and the fight for equality. Like many monumental battles in our nation’s history, the change did not come easily or quickly. It wasn’t until 1919 that the House of Representatives passed the 19th Amendment. The Senate quickly followed. Still though, it needed to be ratified (or approved) by three-fourths of the states. Finally, on Aug. 18, 1920, Tennessee ratified the amendment, and the three-fourths vote was confirmed. What a long, but worthy road.
As we near this notable milestone in our nation’s history, I can’t help but wonder what it must have been like for my great-grandmother in 1920. I know she had a family by then, and she welcomed my grandma in 1921 as well. To be part of this historic time must have been amazing. To know that moving forward she would have a voice at the ballot box, and that her daughter (my grandmother) would always have the right to vote – wow, just wow!
I don’t know what took Mattel so long to come up with this idea, but I love it. I think it’s a good reminder of how lucky we are to live in a fair and functioning democracy where we all have a voice. I’m sure part of my excitement is that this is the first year I am a candidate, and on the ballot this fall.
I’ve always been a political and government junkie. “The West Wing” was one of my favorite shows in high school, and when I turned 18, I was ready and waiting for my chance to vote. I engaged in political debates in college, proudly standing up for the candidates of my choice. Even today, I take my young daughter to vote, and we talk about the importance of it. She even knows our polling location and often asks if it’s time to vote when we drive by. When I took her to our polling location this spring, it was a special moment for me, to cast a vote for myself, a female candidate, while holding my daughter on my hip. That’s what Campaign Team Barbie represents: inspiration, education, and commemoration of the history surrounding the 19th Amendment. To all the female candidates, fundraisers, campaign managers, and voters — I salute you. May we teach our children to remember, to never take for granted what others have fought so hard to obtain, including the right to vote.
See you all Nov. 3!
Melissa A. Schiffel is Delaware County prosecutor.