This month as we celebrated the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote, vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris has the chance to change the modern women’s movement for good by promoting the idea that women should be celebrated for their diversity — not just demographic diversity, but diversity of thought.
During Hillary Clinton’s post-election book tour, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee partly blamed women for her loss by recounting a conversation she had with Sheryl Sandberg about how women “will be under tremendous pressure from fathers and husbands and boyfriends and male employers not to vote for ‘the girl.’”
This wasn’t just a one-time comment. She also said that white women face an “ongoing pressure to vote the way that your husband, your boss, your son, whoever, believes you should.”
Hollywood shared this message as well. Barbra Streisand said, “A lot of women vote the way their husbands vote; they don’t believe enough in their own thoughts.”
Former First Lady Michelle Obama echoed this sentiment that women couldn’t make an informed decision to vote against Clinton when she said, “Any woman who voted against Hillary Clinton voted against their own voice.”
The centennial of women winning the right to vote is a time to reflect on what women should be fighting for in America today and where there is room for unity among women. Women across the political spectrum should unite to demand that conservative women be respected for voting for the candidate they think is best.
Harris could lead the revolution in how we view women voters, and in particular, women voters on the right.
It took 72 years of organized effort for women to win the right to vote. How long will it take for conservative women to be respected for their vote?
The conservative women I know take voting seriously. I asked some student leaders in the Network of Enlightened Women, an organization for young conservative women where I serve as president, why they vote.
Charlotte Townsend, a senior at the College of Charleston, said: “I vote because it’s my duty as a citizen in the United States of America — I do not vote for someone based on their political party or just simply because they are a man or a woman. I vote for them based on their policy positions and what I think would benefit Americans most.”
The women’s movement should view women voters looking beyond sex when casting a vote as a victory.
Grace Ogden, a junior at Cornell University, votes based on practical concerns, “I vote because I think it’s important to partake in our political process since politicians make laws that affect our everyday lives.”
Sophie Czerniecki, first year at Villanova School of Law, told me she votes because not all her family members could. “Coming from a family of immigrants that fled communist Poland, I’m so fortunate to be able to vote and have my voice heard for the things that matter most to me. I vote because I can, and my family members couldn’t.”
Devan Coombes, a third-year student at the University of Virginia, said: “I vote because I can. One hundred years ago, women didn’t have that opportunity. In some countries today, women still don’t. We live in an amazing country that is free where we have the opportunity to have our voice heard every election cycle. I believe I should practice that right; we all should.”
I vote for whomever I think is the best candidate for America. I don’t limit the pool of candidates for whom I vote to women. I want my elected officials to share my vision of a limited role for government and recognize the importance of freedom. I vote for leaders who seek to empower all Americans, including conservative women.
Conservative women will make our voices heard this election like we have in previous elections. We will be watching to see how Harris treats all women voters, not just those who vote for her.
We want everyone to evaluate Harris based on her policy positions and record —not her race or sex. Similarly, just as we hope Harris gets the respect she deserves, we should all hope that conservative women voters get the respect they deserve.
In the spirit of the centennial celebration, I hope Harris ushers in a new era of respect for all women voters, including conservatives.