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How to Interest Women in Voting
An Eentry by Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt in the Women’s Democratic Campaign Manual, 1924. Published by the Democratic Party, National Committee 1924-1928, 1924. 102-3.
The most difficult problem before women leaders today is “How are we to interest the women of the state in voting and get them to change from their uninterested and apathetic attitude to an attitude of intelligent and active interest in their Government?” I sometimes think that women have used their vote a little as a small child uses his first garden. He plants his seeds with great care, but instead of watering them and giving them constant care and attention, he forgets all about them, or else digs them up to see what they are doing. We have treated our vote the same way. We dig it up now and then, but we give it very little care in between times. Of course, no one woman has the right to say what the mass of women want to accomplish with their vote, but I can at least say what I hope the Democratic women wish to achieve.
First: Honest, clean administration in party organizations, coupled with a real desire to have the people understand fundamental issues. The trouble is the means for knowing the truth are very few, and I consider that it is one of the real duties of political parties to state clearly and plainly their belief and the things for which they stand.
Second: We want to see a real use of the primaries so that they will express the will of the people. The real primary used by all the people is a great opportunity for expressing the will of the many. We women are not as yet on a completely equal basis in the party organizations, therefore, we, above all, should realize the opportunity afforded to us in the primaries, where we can see that the candidates we wish are placed on the ballot by petition, or if that is impossible, we can organize and write in any name that we desire. We cannot expect that our wishes will be respected unless we learn to use the tools which give us strength, and unless we are willing to work for the things we believe in.
Third: We desire to see a greater interest take by our Government in what is best for the mass of the people, as opposed to groups among the people. This does not mean that I am unmindful of the necessity that business must prosper and that capital should have its just reward, but the balance must be kept proportionate among the various activities of our people; those who manufacture, those who till the soil, those who work for science, art, and education all alike must prosper for the better development of the race and the country.
Fourth: From this interest in the mass of our own people, we wish to see a growth in the real interest taken in the welfare of the world as a whole. Without this real interest we will not enter any League or Association of nations, we will take no steps to prevent war, we will remain selfish individuals, each scrambling for our own little place in the sun. Like the old story, “For myself and my wife, my son John and his wife, us four and no more,” forgetting that the great cloud over others may easily spread and cover our little patch of sun as well.
Source: Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, George Washington University. More information is available at: http://www.gwu.edu/~erpapers/documents/