The Power and the Will
October 9, 1916 — Suffrage Meeting, Pinney Theater, Boise ID
The unenfranchised women of the national appeal to you for help in their fight for political freedom. You alone have both the power and the will.
The dominant political party — the Democratic party — has the power to liberate the women of the United States, but has refused to put the party machinery back of the constitutional amendment. The Democratic leaders in the senate forced it to defeat through a premature vote. In the house they have buried it in committee. Fourteen times the president has refused his help.
Therefore, women of the west, let no free woman lend her support to the Democratic party.
Politically speaking, the women of America have been a weak and helpless class. Now, for the first time, women have the power to enforce their demands. You, women of the west, who possess that power, will you use it on behalf of women? We have waited so long and so patiently and so helplessly for help from other political sources. May we not depend upon the co-operation and good will of women in politics?
Let no party, whatsoever its name, dare to slur the demands of women, as the Democratic party has done, and come to you for your indorsement at the polls.
It is only by unity that we shall deserve to win. It is women for women now, and shall be till the fight is won.
How can our nation be free with half of its citizens politically mute and unadvised?
In union there is strength.
If you love and respect your sister women, you must send the Democratic party, which has abused the interests of women, down to defeat in the suffrage states. Show a united front, and, whatever the result in November, there never again will be a political party that will dare to ignore our claims.
You know that politicians act when it is expedient to act; when to act means votes, and not to act means loss of votes. President Wilson made this plain when he supported the eight-hour day measure for railway workers. If he cared about principle per se he would have urged an eight-hour day himself. But this was not worth while. What is worth while is to act for those who have organization, unity and political strength behind them.
We have but to exhibit organization, unity and political strength, and victory is ours. Only when we have done so, shall we deserve a victory.
This demand of ours is more urgent than all others. It is impossible for any problem that confronts the nation today to be decided adequately or justly while half the people are excluded from its consideration.
Women are as deeply concerned as men in foreign policy.
We care about what sort of tariff we shall have. If the cost of living goes up, we, as housekeepers, are the ones to suffer.
We are deeply interested in the question of national service. We know, and must help to decide, whether our sons are to be trained to peace or war.
We say to the government: “You shall not embark on a policy of peace or war until we are consulted.
You shall not make appropriations for the building of ships and engines of war, until we give our consent. You shall not determine what sort of national defenses we shall have, whether civil or military, until we co-operate with you politically.
You shall not educate our children to citizenship or soldierdom with out our wisdom and advice.
You shall no longer make laws that burden us with taxes and high prices, or that determine how our commodities shall be prepared ad by whom, or that regulate our lives, our purchasing capacities, our homes, our transportation and education of our children, until we are free to act with you.
This is our demand. This is why we place suffrage before all other national issues.
Freedom for women first.”
Women of the west, we have no one but you to depend on. Men have made it plain that they only fight for us when it is worth their while, and you must make it worth their while.
Will you join us by voting against President Wilson and the Democratic candidates for congress?
Source: The Idaho Statesman, October 10, 1916, pp. 1, 3.