Political Thoughts by Richard Bleil
Today (as of the writing of this post which will be queued for a few days) an article suggested that President Biden is about to sign an executive order to increase voting rights. This follows a bill that was passed a few days ago along party lines. The vote on the bill was rapidly followed by condemnations from the Republican party who complained that it’s hypocritical because Biden promised to cooperate with the Republicans, and because it was an “unprecedented grab” to secure votes from demographics that largely favor the Democratic party. As I understand it, the bill applies to federal elections, guarantees a minimum of 15 days for early voters, guarantees absentee ballots to those who request them, and I believe has language regarding criminals who have finished serving their sentence.
In my humble opinion, this is an issue that defines each of us, individually, as Americans regardless of our party. Where do you stand on voter rights? Do you believe that everyone should have the right to vote, or not? The Constitution, written in an age of slavery and female oppression, mentions voting in several sections. These passages are often written in manners similar to this one: “Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.” What strikes me is that the Constitution does not say “white men”, “free men” or even “men”. It literally refers to “persons”, and even the exclusion of Indians (when the American Indian war was active) limits this exclusion to those who do not pay taxes.
So, do you believe in the Constitution? Do you believe that every American deserves the right to a vote? This is a generic and sweeping question, and while we may debate nuances such as citizens convicted of a crime, it’s a simple yes or no question. Even among convicted citizens there are levels of debate; should misdemeanor convictions deny voting or just felonies? If a convicted citizen finishes their term, meaning they’ve been “rehabilitated”, should the voting rights be reinstated? But as a general question, yes or no, should all American have the right to vote?
If, like me, you do believe all rights should be protected, then regardless of your political affiliation, you need to decide if you oppose actions that restrict voter rights. The Republican Party (formerly my very own party) made clear their stand to me personally in the Gore/Bush election lawsuits over Florida. The Bush campaigned was suing to recount a very limited number of counties that Gore won, while the Gore campaign was suing to recount the entire state. This was voter suppression by George W. Bush and the Republican party. To count only votes that is believed to support one party over the other is anti-Constitutional.
Did the Democratic party just try to secure votes for themselves? I don’t think so. Personally, I believe they are just trying to protect the votes of those who the Republican party are purposely trying to suppress, but I’ve noticed that while the Democratic party is expanding voter rights and participation, the Republican party, in Congress and state legislatures across the nation, are trying to limit voting rights. I am, today, Independent. I don’t support the Democratic Party, but I do support laws expanding voter rights for US Citizens.
And, yes, there are limits. Immigrants who have not completed their citizenship to the US should not be allowed to vote, but they deserve the right to apply to become US citizens. Yes, all of them. If, for some reason they are ineligible, I don’t have a problem with that, but at least they should be allowed to take their shot. Heck, this nation was founded on immigrants (much to the chagrin of Native Americans), so to deny immigrants to apply for citizenship is far too hypocritical for me to support.
But here’s the reality; if you support the Republican push to restrict voter suppression, then you need to be aware that you are not supporting the Constitution. The current Republican Party is one of deception, twisting words to claim that they are protecting the Constitution as they oppress voters. That’s not to say that the pendulum never swings. There have been times that the Democratic party has also been underhanded and deceptive, and that day will return, but as American Citizens, it is not only our right, but also our responsibility to keep these politicians in check regardless of party affiliation. The current Republican Party has chosen to suppress votes as opposed to adopting a stand that better aligns them with the majority desires of the American people. If you give money to the Republican party, vote for Republican candidates or support them, you are voting against the Constitution. The argument of “being Republican but not agreeing with their actions” falls flat. It’s akin to saying “yes, he beats his wife but he’s a good guy.” It just doesn’t fly. Either you align yourself with the Constitution, or against it.
I am with the Constitution.