The right to vote in this country is something I’ve always enjoyed and never taken for granted. It’s one of the key rights that Americans have and unfortunately, not enough of us view it as such. I always get a thrill when I cast my ballot, even if my vote is being wasted (on a third party, as some have it) or is in the losing minority. I still enjoy having my voice heard, even if it is, comparatively speaking, a dog-whistle in in a marching band. I still got out and did my thing.
I had the privilege of working at a polling station in the 2008 mid-year, and I enjoyed it. I was stationed at a poll in a hotel in La Jolla, so I wasn’t busy. It was a mid-year so very few people were voting. I attended a rigorous (ha ha) one-day training session the Sunday before and was taught what we could and couldn’t say, do, and wear, and what to do if rules were broken. I was prepared to bust some rule-breaking ass but in La Jolla, it wasn’t happening. However, I did engage in some non-political conversation with the voters and exchanged some smiles. It was a fun day.
With each passing election, though, voting gets more contentious. Both sides challenge the others and do things to try to either limit the “other side” from voting or get more of “their side” to vote, or both. With that in mind, check this out: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/05/26/wisconsin-gov-walker-signs-new-voter-restrictions-into-law/ Not surprisingly, Walker signed this law so it would go into effect just before his potential election of recall. It’s absolutely obvious why he’s doing it: to discourage those would would vote against him. The poor tend to vote democrat, and they also tend to (as in, more often than republican voters) not have photo ID. This is a power-grab, pure and simple: Walker doing whatever he can to stay in power.
That itself is not surprising. Politicians of all stripes do that; the drive to get reelected or stay in office is very strong. However, I think if anything we should be making voting easier instead of more difficult. Making voting day a federal holiday. Give people time off work to do it (if I was an employer I certainly would). My experience with voting has been uniformly pleasant: I’ve never been challenged or had any difficulty at the polling stations. Acts like these, cloaked in disingenuous-ness, are designed only to make it more difficult or discourage people from voting.
At work recently, the TV was on Fox News – it almost always is – and there was a story about home foreclosures. One of my coworkers piped up (funny how the more unthoughtful an opinion is, the louder it is voiced) that if somebody’s home goes into foreclosure they shouldn’t be allowed to vote. This voting restriction was then piled on with welfare being a disqualifier, jail time, and unemployment. Essentially, these loud voices wanted us to go back to when only landowners had the right to vote – in essence, only me and people like me should have the right to vote.
These same people will voice opinions about how we should nuke the middle east and other stupid ideas. Then they’ll talk about how we can’t let the terrorists win – which, according to their methods, must be accomplished by becoming more like them. All of this, while sucking off the government teat by working a good civil service job. Apparently, dichotomies are difficult to recognize.
It’s frustrating. I’m not some weed-smoking, “love is the answer” peacenik who thinks we all need a hug. I know that sometimes war is necessary and we have to be prepared to do it, and for most of my adult life I’ve been a part of the US military, which is still prepared to kick the crap out of Russia in case it ever comes back to that. However, I am a liberal when it comes to social issues and rights; the more the better, in most cases. That applies to voting. There are a bunch of people I strongly disagree with, and many who I think are just plain dumb. I don’t think they shouldn’t be voting, though. That’s our right, as Americans, and as some will point out that’s what we’re trying to establish in Iraq: the right for most people to vote. Not a select few. While it scares me that these idiots are voting, I fully support their right to vote because that’s one of the things that makes us us. Even the idiots get to vote; if you don’t like it, make sure the people who agree with you ALSO vote to balance them out.
It’s not that difficult, nor should it be contentious.