To protect the people and secure their rights

Liberty and Democracy are not opposing ideas. The political center is where all change is made. Let's embrace reason and civility.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Voting is a Right

Incredible--- that this actually has to be explained.

Voting is a Right.  It is your right as a citizen of the United States, just like any other civil right.  The monarchist, or anarchist, who says you don’t have a right but a “privilege” to vote, is simply wrong.   If anything, rights are the opposite of privilege.  This should be obvious.

There are two guiding principles of American government.  First is the principle of Liberty-- the belief that people have the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 

The second is the principle of Democracy—the belief that sovereignty should be shared equally by all citizens.  It is the “Consent of the Governed” mentioned in the preamble of the Declaration of Independence.  Simply put, Liberty and Democracy are not opposing ideas; they are essential to each other.

And these two ideas have pretty much encompassed the world.  Most nations today enjoy a strong sense of freedom and democracy, and the average citizen enjoys a high standard of living.  We don’t want to lose this.

In many ways, we already have.  The corruption of the democratic process has been overtaking America for decades.  Money decides politics, and our democracy has been turned into some Orwellian game show.

Voter suppression through new Voter ID laws, draconian ballot access laws, secret and unlimited corporate finance, and outright fraud through electronic voting systems--- this is where we have come as a nation.  This is the direction we are going.

Now I’d be the first to advocate Open Primaries and public funding of elections, but that really isn’t going to happen is it?  Seriously, who would invest money in that idea?  A 20-dollar donation from 5000 people would be impressive, but that’s only a hundred grand.  Your US Congressman has millions.

And where the heck is the Democratic Party anyway?  Here in the 64th State Representative district, they haven’t run a candidate for over a decade.  If that isn’t a clear sign of corruption, I don’t know what is.

You have the right to vote.  Not only is that right being assaulted, but the choices you have on the ballot are being manipulated horribly-- without any interest or regard to our civil liberties.  People should be upset about this.  Like my dad always said, “If you’re not fed up about something, you’re not paying attention.”

Your state representative has the power to introduce change.  It’s only one vote in the House, yes.  But it would be a voice of courage and not complicity.  Unfortunately, when big campaign donors are more important than voters, I imagine that decision isn’t quite so easy as it appears.

Your representative was complicit with the recent Voter ID laws pushed by Gov. Corbett.  Is that what we elected him to do?  Is the voice of our people also the voice of voter suppression?  Without the third-party candidate, there wouldn’t have been a choice at all!  Is this democracy?

And the Democratic Party in Venango is just as complicit-- For not running an opposition candidate, for not organizing their constituents, for not giving a rat’s petootee about the rights of the People, for not running a candidate in election, after election, after election.

It’s the same way with the Republican party down in Pittsburgh, I’m sure.  The terms “urban republican” and “rural democrat” rarely suggest any direct representation in their state government.

The result of our current circumstance is that your right to vote and to participate in the democratic process is almost non-existent.  All we have left is to go through the motions of voting, with blinders on to the corruption of it all.  It’s just sad that year after year, there’s really no choice on the ballot.

Any third-party competition has been virtually eliminated in Pennsylvania.  Unfair ballot access requirements, personal litigation, and outright stupidity have dominated our election laws for the past few decades. 

Yet registration levels in both R & D parties continues to decline as more and more people opt for independent or third party affiliation.  People are not stupid, and they’re not apathetic.  They count on their government to provide them with civil protection, infrastructure and social services, and their confidence in the R/D parties has been waning.

People don’t want to live under a totalitarian government.  If there is no opposition candidate, no public debate, if dumps of cash are the only means to election, then what does a vote actually represent?  Hope?  Please.

They’ve effectively turned our State Representative district into a Princedom, and our US Congressional district into a national Fiefdom.  Elected offices should not be open to the corruption of private investment.  Alas, free and fair elections are a thing of the past.

Notice I haven’t mentioned policy once so far.  This is because policy isn’t the core issue.  Policy aboard ship is irrelevant if the ship itself sinks or the captain goes mad.  A calm appeal to reason is essential to any debate.  It isn’t the results, but the process of government that confronts us today.

Frankly, somebody has to stop them.  The upper echelon of the Republican Party has gotten way out of hand.  The inmates have taken over the castle, and we need to take it back. We have to demand our right to vote and to participate in the electoral process.

More importantly, our Representatives need to demand our right to vote and participate.  Our elected representatives should demand free and fair elections.  The members of our state and national legislatures should represent the people, not the corruption of money.

This notion that government is implicitly “evil” is simply not true.  Democratic sovereignty is much more preferable to the alternatives.  Again, I find this incredible that in 2012 we still have to argue about this.

Look, I really like living here in Oil City.  I come home from work each day, sit on the back porch of my “humble abode”, and look over the Allegheny River valley.  It’s a great place to live, and I consider myself very fortunate.

My local government provides many services at a marginal cost.  The water supply here in Oil City is second to none.  We have cable internet, excellent trash pickup, the roads are relatively well maintained, and they run a bunch of cute public events during the year to bring everybody together.

Sure, we’re like every other small, dying city in western Pennsylvania burdened by debt and mild corruption.   But that isn’t what the people see day in and day out in our “pursuit of happiness”.   We’re just trying to live in peace.  So long as we remain guided by the principles of Liberty and Democracy, we’ll all be better off for it.