The Left

Voting is a Right

Wake Up, America!
Wake Up, America!
Vintage World War 1 era poster reads Wake Up America! Civilization calls every man woman and child. Lady Liberty in vintage historical colors of red white and blue. | Photo: | Women, Vote, Vintage,

Some Republicans wish it wasn't

Some people have a very hard time grasping the fact that voting is a right.

Not a privilege. Not something people are entitled to if they vote for the correct party. It's something they're entitled to whether they vote Communist, fascist, Democratic, Republican or the National Silly Party. Unfortunately, a depressing number of conservatives don't seem to think that's the case.

New Hampshire Republican William O'Brien, for instance, said this year that voting restrictions he supported were good because they make it harder for young people to vote. And youth voting is bad, according to O'Brien, because they vote liberal.

Pennsylvania GOP Chair Rob Gleason said in an interview that voter ID cut Obama's lead over Romney in 2012 by 5 percent, so that proved voter ID was a good thing.

Pundit Ann Coulter has said that taking the vote from women is a personal fantasy of hers, as without the woman's Democratic vote, there'd be no more Democratic presidents.

John Stossel said in one column some years ago that people who don't agree with his libertarian views are so obviously wrong, they should lose the vote for being ignorant.

Think-tanker Frank Gaffney said recently that letting people vote when they sign up on the Affordable Care Act website is "creeping socialism" that will lead to "a permanent majority demanding government hand-outs, and the end of America as we know it."

(I have strange suspicion that Gaffney's objection to people "demanding government handouts" doesn't extend to, say, wealthy baseball-team owners or politicians getting federal farm aid. It's only socialist when poor people get help from the government).

I can understand the right-wingers' feelings, believe me. I think the current Republican Party is a disaster whose policies, in Gaffney's words, would bring about the end of America as we know it. Because an America with no social safety net, no workers' rights, absolute power for the rich and increased freedom to discriminate against anyone who's not a straight white Christian male has no resemblance to the country I've known most of my life. People voting for Republicans is, I think, I very bad thing (even though plenty of Republicans don't sign on to that entire ugly agenda, any more than I sign on to everything Obama supports).

But there's no way in hell I'll ever support a plan to strip Republicans ' or Communists, fascists or Christian theocrats or Muslim theocrats ' of their right to vote. Deciding who has that right isn't my call to make. Other than the basics (age, citizenship, registration) it's not anyone's call to make. Nobody has to earn the right to vote by having the "correct" politics, gender, race, faith or anything else.

Sure, I think voting Republican hurts the nation; plenty of Republicans think the same about me voting Democratic. That's pretty much life in a free country. When it reaches the point you think saving democracy means stopping Them from voting (whoever your particular Them might be), you're doing it wrong.

It's seductive to think otherwise. Take women voting: for people who still believe men are supposed to be in charge, arguing that women are just screwing up the country with their silly votes may sound very reasonable. Likewise, suggestions the poor shouldn't vote because they're parasites plays into stereotypes too. If making it harder for those groups to vote also helps you politically, well that's even better.

But setting voting requirements to make it easier for the "right" people to win isn't protecting democracy. It's perverting it.

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Updated Aug 12, 2017 12:08 PM EDT | More details


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