This 2020 was to be the year for commemorating the 100th anniversary of passage of the 19th Amendment, which, at long last, gave American women permission to vote.

As past president of the League of Women Voters of Iowa, I had the privilege of beginning the League’s nearly three-year project of enlisting and uniting dozens of Iowa organizations and entities that wanted to participate in 2020’s “Hard Won / Not Done” cavalcade of events. However — as with most things this year — the COVID-19 pandemic put many of the activities on hold until America can once more come together to honor those who toiled to make suffrage a reality.

Which brings us to fall of 2020 and a general election that would normally have the League of Women Voters focused on getting eligible voters registered.


Normally, our message would be how every vote counts and that democracy is not a spectator sport, etc.

But no way is 2020 a “normal” year and, instead, League members find ourselves faced with seemingly impossible obstacles. How to encourage voter participation when institutions and procedures we’ve always counted on are being called into question?

Although Iowa has long enjoyed a tradition of excellence in voting process, our state is no more exempt than any from the cynical, mean-spirited revelations that seem to be flooding our lives as election day draws closer.

What to believe? Who to believe? And saddest of all, why bother?

With these questions overshadowing the purest of League intentions, I would propose it’s time for some tough love to be directed at the American public.

It’s time for Americans to realize that we are in this mess of lies, accusations, threats and hysteria because we’ve asked for it.

We’ve turned our nation’s governance over to political parties that have no allegiance to anything but power and money. Political parties have emboldened themselves by rigging every part of the election process, from nominations to debate formats, from contributions to legislative procedures. The people party leaders choose as candidates in turn become puppets to their financial contributors.

The power-mongers want the public to throw up their collective hands and walk away from voting, while ensuring the comparative few who will get to the polls will be driven by their basest instincts: Fear and hatred.

I propose it is time for another American revolution, this one fought on the field of responsible citizenship.

This revolution will depend upon soldiers who carry textbooks and not Twitter accounts, who turn to media that challenges them to use their common sense and listen to something other than far-right and far-left commentators.

This revolution would demand that candidates call their parties to account for maligning the election process, that elected officials serve their constituents and not their contributors.

It’s time to recognize that each American is beneficiary of the greatest governmental experiment in the history of the world. Let’s step up and act like it.

Vote! And do it based on creating a better democracy!

Bragg, a Dubuque resident and retired political reporter for the

Telegraph Herald, served as president of the League of Women Voters

of Iowa, 2016–2019.