Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Nov. 4, 2014: Our Day To Shine

Nov. 4, 2014: Our Day To Shine

Welcome followers of my blog to a new political campaign. When I signed off, as the election of 2012 approached, I really didn't expect to be alive for the next election. I rather thought that would be my last one as I was so far beyond my life expectancy. But if my luck holds, I should be still here to vote one more time. This will be my 32nd national election. So voting is quite a habit for me. It is critical for our country that voting becomes a habit for all Americans. 

Let me explain. In the last few decades, many of us have come to believe that we don't matter much to anyone of importance or power. Most of us can spin great yarns that justify this point of view. Besides, most of us have overwhelming responsibilities to fill the hours of every day, hours we cannot expand. It is very hard to find a time when we have a spare hour during which the polls are actually open to actually vote So the number of voters who used to participate in any level of government has dwindled. Life got in the way. 

Unfortunately, our democratic form of government can only thrive if a large majority of us do make do make our voices heard on that special day when every citizen is equal. Sadly, we seem to be moving in the wrong direction. In 1962, when I voted in my 3rd off-year election, so did 47.3% of my fellow citizens.  In the last off-year election, the number of people voting had fallen by almost 10 percentage points to 37.8%. Those of you who couldn't or didn't find the time to vote have had plenty of time to see that your indifference has helped move us to a place that no one seems to like.

Though we are months away from this election, pundits are already predicting that many Americans will sit this election out as well. They expect that the Radical Right will again turn out in force, so the transfer of the Senate to Republican hands is all but certain. For those who support this radical anti-government, anti-democracy point of view, your inaction is a bonus, effectively doubling the effect of their individual votes.  But for those who have other beliefs, for those who want a functioning government, failing to vote leaves themselves and those of us who do care for our Democracy and our government as the mercy of radical officials who disrespect both. 

During most of my life, we have had two political parties that supported Democracy and that government which puts Democratic theory into practice. Both parties accepted that they weren't free to undermine the basic principles of Democracy. This core belief began to erode in the 1960s. My Republican party begin a turn hard to the right. The conservative edge of the party welcomed the racist  parts of the Democratic Party to form the current Radical Party. Those of us who were proud members of the party of Lincoln were branded RINOs and banished.

Now we have two very different parties, one that still believes in Democracy and government, and one that doesn't.. This conflict will play the most important part in this election. Voters must consider a simple question.  Do we believe in Democracy and good government? If you answer "yes," you must register and must vote. You may be sure that the "no" voters will be out in great numbers. Stay home and the anti-Democracy crowd will control our government.

Some of you will doubtless argue that the Radical Right is no danger to our Democracy or government. But there is ample evidence that it really is. As soon as the Radical Right gained power in 2010, they began to pass laws making voting more difficult, if not impossible. They redefined voting a privilege not a right.

They made up a cover story to account for all their efforts. Election cheating had become a major problem that must be addressed vigorously. First, they decided that voters would have to show a photo ID to vote, and only certain IDs would be acceptable. We know that this excuse isn't true at all. If a voter ID were truly essential, there are easy ways to accomplish that. Put an inexpensive camera at each location where registration or voting takes place  Photo IDs would be available within seconds. Problem solved.

This wasn't the only assault on our right to vote. IDs were followed by laws reducing voting hours, days and places and reducing the number of voting machines in busy polling places. These restrictions have only one purpose, to make voting more difficult for all of us, to ensure that many of us lose our voting rights.

Less you think the laws in place are the end of their plans to limit our right to vote, you haven't been paying attention. The next approach to voter suppression has already begun. Kansas is working on legislation that would require voters to prove their citizenship before registering or voting. Gone are the days when all I had to show to register was a bill with my address on it.  Bills with an address are no longer good enough. The Radical Right wants all voters to produce paper work, a birth certificate, naturalization papers or a valid passport. All the these items cost a fair amount of money. In my state, it would cost over $70, because married women would have to produce both their birth and marriage certificates  Lots of citizens entitled to vote, don't have that amount of money lying about.

If the Radical Right remains in power, I'm sure they will continue to find new ways to ensure that voting is a privilege not a right.

They have been digging away at the foundations of our Democracy in another major way. The Radical Right doesn't want our Democratic government to function in the way the men who wrote our Constitution intended. Our founding fathers expected that people would come together, discuss ideas, compromise and vote for laws to put the Constitution into practice. Over the 200 plus years of our existence, this was how our national legislature operated.

But the Radical Right doesn't believe in compromise. They believe that compromising their political beliefs is equivalent to heresy. In their new ideology, no action is better than actions they don't like.

Our Democracy has suffered serious damage in the last few years.We used to be the shining example of what a Democracy should be. Now we are a good example of what damage can be done when too many of our citizens fail to even vote.

There are other examples of the danger of Radical Right ideas to our Democracy. I'll get to them as the election gets nearer. Reducing our right to vote and refusal to compromise to pass laws are enough evidence of the anti-Democracy actions of the Radical Right.

I find the GOP attack on Democracy appalling and dangerous. The fact that these people claim to be members of the Republican Party is particularly painful for me, since I've been a supporter and activist in the party for the majority of my life. But even more appalling and dangerous is the reality that many potential voters, who aren't supporters of the Radical Right, won't register and won't vote. Democracy is on the line in this election, people. To sit this election out is to continue to damage our Democratic institutions and our Democratic values. Citizens who don't vote will have to live with the knowledge that they inflicted the results of a Congress in the hands of the Radical Right upon themselves and and those of us who did care enough to vote.  

Our Democracy depends on you. Let us flood to the polls in such numbers as to astound the pundits. Let standing in long lines for hours be a badge of honor. In the election of 1960, between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, 63.1% of voters actually voted. Let us equal that turnout this year. 

I leave you with an appropriate quote. "Democracy is worth dying for, because it is the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man." No dying needed this year, only voting.

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