Saturday, 27 October 2012

I voted. We should guarantee that everyone eligible can.

Dropped my ballot, signed and all that. Perhaps more on how I voted in near posts-- (this post counts as the first of the five potential pre-election political posts. I know, waited a while, didn't I?

The thing I want to say here is simple: Voting is great. And it should be guaranteed as a right. Over the last twenty, thirty, years, pundits on all sides of the political spectrum have made comment on low voter turnout, how the young people just don't seem to care, etc. This, I think, gets overplayed as a media-salve to older-skewing demographics who want to feel validated in a kids-these-days stance, but it is a real problem.

Lately, however, many haven't been treating it like a problem, they've been exacerbating the problem with attempts at laws unnecessary at best, devious and racist at worst. Most of the current batch of laws have been sponsored by Republicans, but the idea that this should be a partisan issue is absurd to me. The argument I've heard-- actually heard-- is that 'well, voting technically isn't a right, guaranteed by the constitution.

Which is true. So I say, let's make it one. The right to vote should be extended to all citizens of the U.S. (with possible exceptions for those serving hard time. i'm not writing the resolution here, just putting the idea out there) regardless of race, political affiliation, gender, orientation, religious affiliation, wealth, housing status, education level, job status, etc. Once you hit 18, voting should be a constitutionally guaranteed right, in my mind. I say the right to vote should be in the framework of our countries laws, and voting should be a prioritized right-- accessible and available, as well as allowed. There are countries that legally require the citizenry to vote.

I'm not suggesting that, but I do think that along with freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and the right to bear arms, the right to vote was held in the same legal esteem, more people would vote. And if they didn't? Boo on them-- but there are many people who, despite the fought-and-died-for-right, will never own a gun. never exercise free speech in a meaningful, protected way. But those rights are still there should people choose to exercise them.

Again, recently a lot of liberal folks (I count myself, generally speaking, as a liberal folk, if you want to paint with broad swaths) have painted this as a Dems. vs. Repubs. issue, partly because the voter ID laws were largely being put in place in battleground states that could decide the upcoming election. In this instance, there may be credence to that, but the dialogue could easily flip; I've heard more than one dyed-in-the-wool blue-state liberal sigh that "if only you had to have a degree to vote." This was a lot of expasperated steam-blowing, as it were, during the Bush years. But that's often how bad ideas start, ideas that put an ideology beyond the Democratic (process, not party) ideals on which this country was founded forward.
And I think participating in the democratic process is absolutely core, absolutely essential to who we are, who we've been, and hopefully, who we will be in the future.


Leigh Bell said...

I have often been more than a little concerned by our generation's apparent apathy, and have to admit that the contestedness of this year's election has made me hope that more - ahem - young people will start to get involved in the democratic process.

Also, I appreciate your point that this sort of thing can easily cut both ways. I remember when Bush passed the Patriot Act, which had all sorts of incredibly vague ways of defining who a terrorist was, and I thought to myself, "Gosh, in a different cultural environment, a pro-life activist who lies down in front of an abortion clinic could be defined as a terrorist."

graham said...

Yeah, I don't see this as a left/right issue at all. I think it's disheartening to me that anyone would.