When Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, I read an obituary from NPR. In the first couple paragraphs, there was a sentence about how the Senate majority leader had announced that the senate would be voting on whomever the president nominates. There was nothing from him on Ginsburg’s life, or the heroism she displayed, or the lives she influenced. This statement from him had been made within an hour of the announcement of her death. There wasn’t even, as far as I know, a statement of sadness or emotion preceding this resolve to vote.
I want to stay away from the politics behind this, because there are a ton of writings, broadcasts and podcasts, television clips, etc. about that. Ginsburg has always been an icon of feminism to me and so many others. I’ve read a few of her earth-shaking dissents and opinions from her time as a Supreme Court justice. One of them caused Congress to push through a piece of legislation. I knew that she had been voted into the court almost unanimously after her nomination by Bill Clinton. Before that, she got both herself and her husband through law school, during a period when she was aggressively discriminated against by her classmates and professors. She raised a child while doing this, and was immensely successful from that time on. Mass sexism, discrimination and various cancers were constant roadblocks, but she surmounted those with incredible grace.
In short, Ginsburg will always be a paragon of perseverance and resilience, embodying the principles of feminism and equal opportunity. Her legacy should be perpetuated by the fact that every American should be proud to call her one of our own. History books should discuss her in detail. The world should know her ideals, not just her name and fashion choices. I was shocked after hearing how the Senate majority leader chose to respond to her passing. To be honest, I still am. How could a federal leader, who had the privilege of meeting and working with her, disrespect her so much? Why didn’t he, at the very least, celebrate her life last weekend, and then announce his decision on Monday? That just isn’t right.
At the moment, I’m ashamed to be represented by someone who didn’t take the time to recognize Ginsburg’s legacy after the news came about her passing. Regardless of political affiliation, I don’t believe this trend should continue. This country should be led by people who can display empathy and sympathy, by people who can help bring us together during a time of isolation. This doesn’t seem to be happening right now, so maybe we need a change of leadership. Maybe the right leaders are Democrats, or Independents, or Republicans. I don’t know. But they need to care about individuals, about families, about their states and other states, about this country and about the world. They need to show their passion constantly, and especially when a great role model dies. Our leaders compose American history, so the majority of them had better be good ones.
This past Tuesday was Voter Registration Day. Register to vote if you’re eligible. When elections roll around, be sure to vote if you can. Absentee ballots are especially important this year. Our voices are essential this year and always. When you’re deciding whom to vote for, consider whoever you believe can bring about positive change. But also consider that this country is going through a lot of issues. Recognize that we need passionate, emotional leaders who aren’t afraid to be open about their humanity, and ours as well. Think about the people who will remember our past, while deciding the present and shaping the future. When you vote, vote for the people who will remember our heroes.
Cricket X. Bidleman ’21
Contact Cricket X. Bidleman at bidleman ‘at’ stanford.edu.
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