America has long been celebrated for being a true democracy, meaning that every citizen enjoys the same voting right, and therefore has an equal say in the way the country is run and who we choose to run it. Of course, it was not always this way. It is well known that originally only white male land-owners were granted this right. Eventually, and after much resistance, poor people, and then blacks and other minorities were allowed to vote, and then finally, women. But, for almost a century, everyone in this country has theoretically had the right to cast their vote on Election Day.
I say “theoretically,” because we all know that this is not really the way things work. Non-citizens are not allowed to vote. Neither are felons. Or, anyone under the age of eighteen. While arguments can be made to justify keeping these groups from voting, the same can not be said of the newest target of proposed GOP voting regulations: Democrats. Now, this is not exactly true. To state it more accurately, the Republican Party is trying to take the vote away from anyone who is not likely to vote Republican. This is a brilliant strategy. If only Republicans (and those sympathetic to Republicans) are allowed to vote, Republicans are guaranteed victory in each election.
Of course, this strategy is also corrupt and illegal, though that has not stopped GOP policy makers in the past. But, this instance is perhaps the most devious of all. Republicans have realized that there will always be voices raised in opposition to their policies and ideas of how the government should be run. But, they have also realized that all the protest and dissent in the world is meaningless if they are able to silence those voices in the only place that they truly matter: the ballot box.
The reasons for voting Republican, at least among their supporters, are pretty obvious. Just choose any combination of the GOP pillars of Jesus, guns, tax-cuts, and fear of brown people. But, to most potential voters, the decision of who to vote for can be a bit more complicated. Each person has their own personal issues, and they ultimately choose the candidate that best addresses their pet issue. Some are concerned about morality, some about the environment, or jobs, or civil rights, or immigration, or any number of other things. They see the election process as one requiring careful thought and consideration.
But, Republicans are not thinkers. They are a party of blind, irrational actions, and believe that thinking things through just gets in the way of making money and blowing shit up. They don’t have time for ideas or compromise. Their approach to the voting public has become frighteningly close to their approach to terrorists, “Either you’re with us, or you’re against us.” And, it is becoming increasingly clear that anyone in the lower class falls firmly into the latter category. The GOP is a party of, by, and for the rich, and anyone who objects to that should be silenced.
In an article in The American Thinker Matthew Vadum goes so far as to say that “Registering the Poor to Vote is Un-American.” His theory is ludicrous, beyond even the shock value of the title. He basically argues that the poor should not be allowed to vote because they tend to vote for policies and candidates that benefit the poor. He calls them “non-productive segments of the population,” and says that, “registering them to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals.” He adds that, “Encouraging those who burden society to participate in elections isn’t about helping the poor. It’s about helping the poor to help themselves to others’ money.”
Aside from the contempt he obviously has for anyone with the audacity not to be wealthy, his article drips with hypocrisy. Everyone votes for policies and candidates that benefit themselves, regardless of their social standing. The rich vote for whatever or whoever will keep them that way, just like they vote for tax breaks for themselves at the cost of destroying the entire American economy. And, if anyone in America today is non-productive, surely it must be the upper class, who do little more than move pieces of paper around, buying and selling things for profit without producing a single thing of value themselves. But, the ultimate in hypocrisy is to equate the poor with criminals while defending the very people who have been repeatedly caught with their collective hands in the till, stealing from people directly, and then again when the government (who were voted into office on a platform of favoring the rich) lavishes them with taxpayer-sponsored bailouts. Talk about helping people help themselves to others’ money!
Almost as insidious, but far more covert is the campaign for voter suppression detailed by Ari Berman in Rolling Stone. He tells of various measures passed by Governors (largely with the support of notorious GOP-supporting slimeballs, the Koch Brothers) that aim to keep millions of people away from the ballot box. These people, from students, to immigrants, to minorities, to ex-convicts, all belong to groups that tend to favor Democratic candidates. Of course, Republicans would never admit to such deception, saying that these measures are being implemented to crack down on rampant voter fraud, despite the fact that virtually no such fraud has been found to exist. But, by cloaking their corruption in virtue, they hope to swing elections in their favor without anyone noticing that they are rigging the game.
But, people are beginning to notice. Former President Bill Clinton, addressing a group of student activists, said, “One of the most pervasive political movements going on outside Washington today is the disciplined, passionate, determined effort of Republican governors and legislators to keep most of you from voting next time.” The ACLU is attempting to challenge many of these new statutes in courts, and the Justice Department is being urged to block any discriminatory measures. But, whether these efforts will be effective or not remains to be seen.
So, what can we do? The answer is simple. We can go to the ballot box and cast our votes. And, we can fight to ensure that everyone else is able to do the same. The right to vote is one of the most basic and essential rights in a democratic society, and any attempt to strip this right away from the citizens must be stopped. If Republicans want to win elections, they should do it by coming up with popular ideas, not by corrupting the system. But, once again, the GOP has shown that it does not like to fight fair. So, get out and vote, and encourage everyone you know to vote, as well.
- The Republican assault on voting rights (americablog.com)
- Republican efforts to restrict voting has nothing to do with ‘fraud’ (dailykos.com)
- The Demographics Against The GOP (andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com)
- Classic Koch: Fewer Voters Equals More Republicans (crooksandliars.com)
- Republicans Across the Country Work to Prevent Voting (onebluestocking.wordpress.com)
- Democracy Is Un-American (kaystreet.wordpress.com)