Has America Matured into the Fair and Equal Land of Promise?

I like to think America has finally grown-up--matured.

As a child I learned that America was the "land of the free" where "all are equal" under the law and in our culture.

But, look around. I see injustice everywhere. The rich and famous get slaps on the wrist and small, if any fines, for their crimes while the middle class and poor get jail sentences and large fines they can never pay for the same crimes.

We have fought for the right for each citizen to vote, to receive equal pay for the same work, to be accorded respect and honor. We have won a few, but we have not yet succeeded in reaching our lofty, but reachable, goals.

White, propertied men gave themselves the vote when we declared our independence from England in 1776. In 1870 Congress granted voting rights to Black men. In 1920, women were granted voting rights. And in 1924 American Indians were finally granted citizenship and the right to vote in their own land.

Although America has required that new nations include equal rights for women in their Constitutions, we still do not have an Equal Rights Amendment in our own Constitution. Daily we learn of new methods one party is using to stop certain groups from voting at all. Some are cutting time allowed for voting and personnel to assist voters to the point that Arizona citizens were forced to wait in lines as long as five hours in their most recent primary (http://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/2016/03/23/arizona-primary-our-view-we-outraged-long-lines/82152636/).

I am completely disgusted about the current presidential campaign. Democrats were civil at first, but now they are getting sharp and rude. Republicans are off the chart. Even their own right wing media are talking about how to eliminate front runners.

But here's a key point--all Republican candidates and the party platform are working to take away women's choice. I have written about sexism and misogyny all of my life. The fact is that when women do not have control over what happens to our own bodies, we cannot plan or control our lives. "Land of the free" flies out the window when the rich and powerful work to force births on women who do not want and/or cannot care for--or afford--more children. Forcing births harms the entire family...indeed, our entire culture. Know this, wealthy women will always be able to get abortions.

I'm sharing a letter a friend wrote about the current political confusion:

April 4, 2016
Dear Editor:
In writing this letter, a promise to myself to be unruffled by the 2016 presidential campaigns has been compromised. A certain candidate, trumpeting misogynistic comments, has provoked me to break that promise. Bear with me!

That candidate has attempted to demean, degrade and intimidate women, referring to 51% of the population (women) as "slobs," "fat pigs," "dogs," "disgusting animals" and "bimbos." This tyrannical conduct is to be expected of a bully. I wonder why he is so intimidated by women that he needs to focus on demoralizing us? That kind of behavior, those kinds of malicious words do not belong in the vocabulary of a candidate competing for the office of president of the United States. One can only hope and pray fervently that our voters will not vote for a tyrant. We voters surely want to have respect for the dignity of the Office of President, whether he or she received our votes or not. We surely expect statesman-like conduct.

As for his view of legally "punishing" women for having abortions, regardless of whether the child is deformed or whether the woman was a victim of rape or incest or whether she must sacrifice her own life for the child's, he has really overreached his welcome as a presidential candidate and is not allowed to invade our right to privacy. Say! What about the other half of the creators of a life - men? We note that he hasn't mentioned "punishing" the men, some of whom are allowed to walk out on responsibility, ignoring their fair shares for the care of human lives.

The would-be oppressor may amuse some; however, a backlash against him is in order. It's time to stand up to the would-be despot. Sixty-seven percent of women voters are not amused. (That percentage may be higher by now.) I, for one, am appalled.

Barbara Thexton
Hot Springs, AR

I am appalled too.

Check into candidates' backgrounds. Learn how they voted and what they have done in their own lives--not just what they say in media sound-bites written for them by professionals. Learn what they stand for before you trust them with your precious vote.

All Americans will be grateful!