Democracy victim of partisan politics | News, Sports, Jobs
Last week part of America watched the heroism of a Martin Luther King who was assassinated because he thought “We the people” should include more than white European immigrants. While some celebrated, others didn’t, doing their best to see that black lives didn’t matter.
In 2021, 19 states passed 34 laws aimed at excluding minorities from participating in elections. This is not electoral fraud. It is about depriving the citizens of the United States of their right to vote.
Election fraud in disguise
Voter fraud is a disguise for our bigotry, but every legislator knows what the purpose of restrictive legislation is, so let’s stop lying to ourselves about the legitimacy of laws that intentionally limit voting.
In 1776, the Declaration of Independence stated that “all men are created equal” without specifying who was among the “equal” Men. At that time, only 5-10% of men were allowed to vote and only then when they held a stake in the company.
Eleven years later, the Founding Fathers proclaimed in the U.S. Constitution that “we the people” founded this new republic. To be transparent, they should have said “we, 5-10% of the people, create this government.”
Vote for voters
But the democratic impulse blossomed early in our history, first with states giving citizens the power to choose Electoral College electors by popular vote rather than a select group of leaders.
Then the property requirements for voting became obsolete with society changing drastically. Thus, the right to vote was unfettered, and millions more men were added to rolls around President Jackson’s era.
At the end of the Civil War, Northerners saw political advantage in extending the franchise to former slaves in the Fifteenth Amendment. Congress demanded that the rebelling states ratify the amendment as the price of readmission to the Union.
Death in the details
When President Hayes struck a deal to withdraw the U.S. military from the south, the slave society regained control of elections in the south and administered the Fifteenth Amendment to death with literacy tests, intimidation (KKK) and a multitude of oppressive measures.
To this day, fighting the black vote is high on every state’s legislative agenda. If it is possible to justify slavery, it is possible to justify depriving citizens of their votes.
In 1848, Elizabeth Stanton called a women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York, to demand suffrage for women. When the Fifteenth Amendment was passed, white women couldn’t understand why they didn’t have as much right to vote as black men. They didn’t get an answer.
It took 80 years before the Democratic dream of equality for women at the ballot box became a reality with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920.
With the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913, people in every state gained the right to vote for U.S. senators.
In 1924, Congress passed the Snyder Act which extended the franchise to Native Americans. Finally, they had the right to vote in their own country.
Finally, the Twenty-Sixth Amendment was ratified in 1971, lowering the voting age to 18.
Democracy in America has spanned the decades. Over the past two centuries, we have recognized the equality of men and women of all origins and colors, transforming the original aristocracy into a true democracy.
But all is not well. The right to vote has fallen into the crosshairs of the most vicious political polarization since the Civil War. Our values have changed. Politics has become more important than democratic values and the future does not look very bright.
Democracy is in trouble.