Duty, Privilege or Right

OpEdThe other day I was speaking to a young woman I have been friends with and a professional mentor to for several years, during the course of that conversation she revealed she doesn’t vote. I was and remain stunned by her revelation; especially given her reasoning, which was, she did not trust our voting system or believe her vote counted. I believe I got a bit heated with her, Michelle Bachmann and her idiocy was invoked more than once during the remainder of our conversation as my friend is from Minnesota. I explained to her, the reason idiots like Michelle were elected because seemingly smart people like her stayed home with ignorant excuses like, “I don’t believe my vote counts”.

Heated might be the wrong word, I was passionate and inflamed. Men and women died for our right to vote. For any one of us to stay away from the polls, whether during a federal election or a local Milhousdrawingelection simply shows both our ignorance and our apathy. For any citizen to fail to get up off their ass during an election and spend the time it takes to exercise their duty as a citizen, yes I said it, their duty as a citizen and vote is why we have the dysfunctional government we have today. I say it constantly as do many others, when good people fail to vote bad people win elections; when Democrats / Liberals / Progressives fail to vote Republicans / Tea Party / Conservatives win elections.

The problem we have right now, in this nation today in Congress and in many States since 2010 is we believed what the media told us, we believed we had already lost the House, the Governor Mansions and we failed to carry our asses to the polls and vote. Because we were so damned apathetic, we lost the House, we damned near lost the Senate, we lost many states and we handed this President a Congress he could not work with, a Congress that would not work with him. We, the people of this nation, the so-called Progressives of this nation did this and we deserve what we got for sitting it out.

We, the Progressive / Liberal / Democrats of the United States of America voted twice to put Barack Obama into the office of President and then we hampered his presidency with this Congress. We are perfectly willing to whine about them, we are willing to sign petitions on the internet, we are willing to send Meme’s around Facebook and on our blogs, what we aren’t willing to do is exercise our right, our duty to vote when the time comes to do so.

We, all of us, every single last one of us must stop handing over our rights as citizens, turning away from brutality and ignorance and begin taking back our nation from those who would strip us of our rights simply because we are too apathetic to stand up and stand against them. We must never forget those who came before us and fought, even died to gain the right to vote, the right to have a voice for us. We must, especially those of us who were left out of the original Bill of Rights and Constitution, we must stand up, stand in line and do what it takes to VOTE every single time and in every single election. We must not spit on those who fought for our right to do so; we must not turn our backs on history forgetting what it required of those who laid down their lives, their bodies, their social standing to gain us all the right to VOTE.

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We must not allow our rights to be stripped away, our history to be rewritten simply because we are too lazy to do our own research into how our government and voting really works. What voter fraud really is and thus we willingly believe our vote doesn’t count, staying home along with millions of others making millions of votes not count, millions of voices go unheard. The goal of those who would fix the outcome is achieved when good people stay home and don’t vote. Every single election cycle sees us losing ground to big money and nefarious agenda’s when we believe the hype, when we believe the race already won, when we believe our vote doesn’t count.

Make your voice heard; some of the races won in 2010 and 2012 were won by narrow margins and those uncompromising, unethical and directionless members of Congress are now out to destroy this nation for their own ends and without the least concern for you or me. The same will be said this year, 2014 will either see us taking back the House and winning a majority in the Senate, taking more Mansions in the states or we will sit it out because we will believe the hype and sit it out. I refuse to sit it out, I will vote.

One thing to consider, I hear this all the time and it simply yanks my chain even harder than I thought possible is when someone says the following:

It doesn’t matter, it is only choosing between the lesser of two evils.

No, dammit, no it is not and even were this the case isn’t it better to choose than to allow others to choose the worst evil for you, allowing you the opportunity to mitigate the potential for real harm, real evil and the fight for another day. Gad, how much ignorance, hate, bigotry and nastiness are you willing to live with before you say enough? Truly, if you are not willing to fight, with your voice at the polls than you do not have any cause to bitch at the results. You cannot complain when you are discriminated against in the workplace, when you are paid less, or don’t get the job, or lose your healthcare or don’t get a mortgage, or a car loan, or for that matter don’t get an apartment or a mortgage; you simply don’t have the right to complain. I don’t want to hear it when your taxes take your paycheck because your ass didn’t get off the couch to vote. I don’t want to hear it when your child is turned away from a school. I don’t want to hear it, not any of it if your life is harder because your rights and privileges are lost, when you failed to do what you should have done and fought to keep them.

Get your ass off the couch. VOTE

 

 

http://www.splcenter.org/civil-rights-memorial/civil-rights-martyrs

2012 Election Results: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/election-map-2012/house/

2010 Election Results: http://elections.nytimes.com/2010/results/senate

Voting statistics: http://www.statisticbrain.com/voting-statistics/

Notions, Odds and Ends

soapboxpileIt has been a long slog through the muck. There were things left undone as my attention was diverted by both Campaign 2012 and blogging for Race 2012. I admit it, I love politics it is both an intellectual distraction and a philosophical passion, sometimes futile I admit but this time, I think we all learned a few things. Does the end of the campaign and the re-election of POTUS 44 mean I will stop bombarding you with politics?

Well no, probably not but what it does mean is I will stop blitzing you quite so much. My earlier intent to look at and compare the platforms of the two parties moving forward from 1900 to today hasn’t changed, I think this is remains an interesting subject. What about you?

The world we live in remains disrupted by stand your ground ideology on both sides of the aisle. For those of us who voted for the winning side, we can celebrate today but the heavy lifting is only just beginning. For those who voted for the opposition, I am sorry your team lost. I know you are feeling despondent even today the loss is still sinking in. The problem is we are all Americans; we have to find common ground and move our nation forward. We cannot afford to allow those we sent to Washington to set the agenda against our collective best interest.

We are not:

  • African (Black) Americans
  • Hispanic (Brown) Americans
  • Native Americans
  • Asian Americans
  • White Americans
  • Gay Americans
  • Young Americans
  • Older Americans
  • Female Americans
  • Male Americans
  • Christian Americans
  • Muslim Americans
  • Buddhist Americans
  • Mormon Americans
  • Atheist Americans
  • Deist Americans

Nor are we any other flavor of American the pollsters or for that matter, the Census Bureau can think of. We truly need to begin to think of ourselves not as special interests groups, rather simply as Americans, citizens of this nation. Do not mistake me, I fully agree we have not achieved equality and Civil Rights across the board remain elusive for many of our citizens. Some continue to believe Civil Rights should be a ballot measure, granted only if your neighbor pulls the lever and agrees you as a citizen should have the same rights they have.

This past few years has been ugly. We have seen billions of dollars poured into campaigns, dollars that could have been better spent to feed and educate children, create jobs, research new technologies or study new cures. Instead, these dollars were spent to divide the nation, spread fear and lies, clog our airways with party ideology that did nothing to move us forward, nothing to solve our nation’s very real problems. I along with others, watched in outrage and horror as SCOTUS passed Citizen United and the Super Pacs came onto the political field. My repulsion grew exponentially as gerrymandering became de rigueur and new voter laws begin to pop-up with regularity where there was no reasonable cause.

Worse still, we missed it we missed the most important SCOTUS decision possibly of the century in 2000, in Bush v. Gore while we rung our hands and whined the election had been stolen we failed to see the writing on the wall, the future of our great nation hanging in the balance with these simple words:

 “the individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote.”

The state has preeminent rights, greater than individual citizens and greater than the federal government to direct voting. We, the people (remember us) do not have an affirmative right to vote in federal elections! Yes, you read that correctly. There are Constitutional Amendments, namely the 15th, 19th and 26th that prevent discrimination on the basis of Race, Gender and Age. These wonderful Amendments nevertheless do not provide an affirmative right to vote as an American Citizen, they only prevent discrimination where the State allows voting to occur.

What does this mean? Well, think of it this way, as a citizen you have the following:

  • A positive Right to own a Gun
  • A positive Right to Free Speech
  • A positive Right to Assembly and Protest
  • A positive Right to practice your Religion
  • A positive Right to Free Enterprise

You do not have the RIGHT TO VOTE. The right to vote, who will vote or how the electors to the Electoral College for your state will vote is in truth in the hands of your Governor and your Secretary of State. How do you like them apples? Everything the states did leading up to the Presidential Election of 2012, was legal. We might not have liked it. We might have recognized it for what it was and found it repugnant, but it was within the law.

What do we do now? SCOTUS said November 9th, they will hear a case on whether Congress exceeded its authority when they reauthorized the 1964 Voters Rights Act, specifically Section 5. This section requires States with a history of discrimination, gerrymandering and disenfranchising voters to submit changes to their voter laws to the Federal Government before they are enacted. Is there a correlation between the Courts decision to take this case up and the reelection of POTUS 44? The possibility certainly exists and we the people of this nation need to be watching this case along with others they have agreed to hear that quite possibly will change the will of the people as they legislate from the bench what is not the will of the people.

We have allowed this, in some cases encouraged this scourge on our national dialogue. We the people failed to see through bile being spread before us as Truth and the American Way instead we repeated it. We were sucked in. We engaged our friends and family members as if they were foes on the battlefield, all too often forgetting to dull the edge of our sharp tongues, forgetting sometimes we catch more fly’s with honey.  I am as guilty of this as many others, having had to fall on my sword more often than I can count. Having had to apologize to many I love for my acerbity.

We are a nation still divided. I am saddened by this great divide within our country. Separated not because we are really so different but rather because we have allowed those who do not have our best interest at heart to convince us we should be enemies. We have drawn lines in the sand and called them race, religion, gender, sexual orientation; what they really are the boxes others have placed for us to crawl into preventing us from getting to know our neighbors, preventing us from learning we might be friends. We have aligned behind ideologies, believing the talking points without digging down and asking questions and thus defending the indefensible. We have in fact allowed our great nation to be hijacked by two Parties the DNC and the GOP, two sides of a coin Heads I win Tails I lose, nothing in between no diplomacy, compassion or negotiation. Two sides embittered and embattled wanting nothing but power for powers sake, never mind the bodies left on the field in their wake.

Truly, is the middle so hard to find? I wonder, I do. So will I continue to write about politics, I will because I can’t help myself, it is my passion this nation of ours. It won’t be my only subject though, there are other things I think about, other passions I have.

So, for those I insulted with my acidic and barbed tongue, I hope you will forgive me. Believe me as often as I snap (I do I know despite my attempts to do otherwise) will be just that often that I will fall upon my sword and grovel for you forgiveness. My comments are never personal (well mostly never personal) and are never meant to attack anyone personally (mostly not).  

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