Tuesday, November 2, 2010



Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote. ~ Andrew Lack

I like reading Wikipedia entries because, despite the ubiquitous requests to verify the data, the kernels of truth contain throughout can’t be denied. Moreover, the presentation of data is simple and specific. I wanted to know about the history of voting rights, and I was able to find exactly that on this site. What I found was not new information; a great deal of this I remember seeing in college level textbooks. It was the matured mindset that beheld this data that is giving me pause.

The entry begins by immediately highlighting the struggle of voting rights to reach all Americans. The original settlers and their first few generations of offspring had inalienable rights from the start. Naturally, as an influx of other European immigrants continued to stream in, there was undoubtedly debate of their right to elect officials. Ironically, from the start, the Whites in power, while already marginalizing Native Americans through tyranny and Blacks through slavery, initially used prejudice against what we consider “their own kind”. Religious bigotry and lack of education played a part in denying anyone not already established as suitable the right to vote. To read this information at 30 that was originally presented to me started at about age 10, I feel 180 degrees different. There really has been a struggle to extend the right to vote to all Americans. Concurrently, there has already been a struggle to limit this right to certain groups only.

I was recently educated that a certain religious group in this country opts not to vote. They willing instruct in their teachings, that things like blood transfusions, birthdays, and even selecting government representation is forbidden. What a novel concept! The process of electing public officials construed as (no matter how benign) evil? I thought it was the silliest thing I’d ever heard. But how absurd is it compared to partisan bickering that results in 100% member voter turnout on the issue of congressional raises, and the very legal idea that the party in control can draw and re-draw the lines of the districts. Sound familiar? It’s because it’s a throwback to childhood playground wars where the big, strong kids were sought after to play sports, and the geeks kept scores. Only now, the nerds are the powerful Capitol Hill gang, flexing their might with knowledge of archaic texts of our forefathers interpreted daily into our society.

What we have, therefore, is an issue of interpretation. For whatever reason, for as long as one can remember, when things are bad or can be perceived as such, the blame goes to the leader. In American politics, we continue to foolishly shoot down our leaders, even after ushering in their respective reigns with such fanfare. It happened to George Washington, and it certainly happened to Barack Obama. We always want a change, but when it doesn’t happen as we expect it, or as fast as we’d like it, we revolt at the polls. The deception is that an ouster of power will lead in new ideas, when we don’t want new ideas, we want everything to be exactly how it was: the same without changing. This OCD-esque request doesn’t represent all of American by any means. Again, this only applies to voters. From this, we can only weave a partial fabric. Some people care, but don’t know, some don’t know, but the care to know, and others don’t know and don’t care. The fight boils down to a battle of wits, but some folks aren’t armed, and many are conscientious objectors.

What are we fighting for then? What is the purpose of a government if one of the tenets of the society is that the law is to protect people who could care less about the writ or the institution by which it was created? I wonder early pioneers foresaw the apathy of today, and thus attempted to keep certain groups excluded for this reason.
I wonder how different our culture would be, if even just in certain areas, if scores of people hadn’t died before voting related controversies, and went on to live full lives and enjoyed their families into old age.

Make no mistake that there is a battle going on. Are you a soldier, a casualty, or neither? God help you if you are the latter.