Editorials

A ‘teachable moment’? Teen governor at Kansas Boys State tries to eliminate women’s vote

Yes, there is always one. In this case, he was the young governor at this summer’s Kansas Boys State, a Leavenworth teen whose mock tenure will be remembered for his breakaway attempt to push through an executive order repealing the 19th Amendment.

Oh, you scamp! How droll of you to embarrass the whole earnest operation; that will teach your peers to expect even fake leadership from you. Hopefully, your mom has fully explained why she will be admitting to no one that you were the one whose fear of girls made national news.

Since this is the centennial of women’s suffrage, let’s remember that more than a century before this young man’s childish stunt, Kansas made news of another kind.

From the time the Kansas Territory was carved out in 1854, it was in the forefront of the national push for women’s rights in general and the vote in particular. Though it took Kansas women more than another half century to overcome the resistance to equality, they still got there ahead of most of the rest of the country.

In 1861, they won the right to vote in school board elections. After they got the right to vote in municipal elections in 1887, women won all five seats on the city council in Syracuse, Kansas, and in Argonia, Kansas, elected the country’s first female mayor, Susanna Madora Salter. (An officer in the local Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, Salter was nominated by several Argonia men as a joke but oops, won in a surprise landslide. This is how jokes go sometimes, Governor.)

Finally, on November 5, 1912, Kansas voters approved the Equal Suffrage Amendment to the state constitution, and Kansas became the eighth state in which women could vote in all elections. It was another eight years before all American women won that right.

But yes, they persisted, and Kansas has reason to be proud of that.

In a statement, the American Legion Boys State of Kansas Leadership Academy apologized “for any insensitivity expressed by this unenforceable order” put forward by a kid who ignored all advice. “It is a teachable moment for everyone.”

Some more than others.

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