arteejee

A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Monday, May 28, 2012

History Happens Again (But It Doesn’t Have To)


Western culture likes to narrow down the certainties of life to as few as possible. So we all settle on the concepts of death and taxes as being those certainties, and pretend like everything else in life is just unforeseeable happenstance. If we could expand that list of certainties, then I would immediately nominate the notion that “history repeats itself”.

Certainly history is a large part of our Memorial Day observances this weekend. We are all reminded — as well we should — to remember the true meaning of the holiday as we wolf down our barbecue fare. We would not be here at this point in our lives, enjoying the freedoms our nation offers if it were not for the sacrifices millions of men and women made over the years to ensure that those freedoms endure.  

Yet sometimes events happen which make one wonder if those who gave all would recognize the country we live in today. Would they look around and say, “This is good,” or “What the hell?” Of course, these reactions would vary with the range of the values of each serviceperson, but surely many would scratch their heads and wonder aloud about the latest attempts by leaders at the state level to keep eligible voters from exercising their rights as citizens.    

Coincidentally, these leaders in several states are also members of the GOP. Pennsylvania’s latest Voter ID law has predictably led to stories of elderly voters who, for one reason or another, are unable to produce the needed documentation (such as a birth certificate) to get a photo identification which will allow them to vote. The ACLU has already started a class action law suit over the new law. I have been toying with the idea of voting this November under protest. I believe my voting rights are secure, but I still feel the need to let the state know that I am not very happy with what they are doing to the voting rights of others.

Then there is the case where history maybe on track to repeat itself with disastrous results: Florida. GOP Governor Rick Scott has ordered his administration to purge non-citizens from the state’s voting rolls. His previous Secretary of State, Kurt Browning, dutifully compiled a list of 182,000 suspected non-citizens from Florida motor vehicle registrations. However, when push came to shove, Browning was troubled by the inaccuracies of the list. Despite his misgivings and his resignation from his state position (I have been unable to find a report linking his resignation with this issue), Governor Scott has gone ahead with the purging. 

Letters were sent out within the last few weeks telling thousands of Florida voters that, based on information collected by local election boards, they were ineligible to vote. These suddenly disenfranchised citizens have 30 days to prove their citizenship, but even then they have to do so by scheduling a hearing. The idea that an American citizen has to go to these lengths to prove that they are still eligible to exercise their Constitutional rights should strike any of us as extremely inconvenient, and a gross mockery of the values which so many Americans sacrificed their lives to preserve.

Voter advocacy groups are naturally livid at Governor Scott’s actions.  They have noted that a disproportionate number of minority voters — mainly in the Hispanic community — have been targeted for disenfranchisement. One voter advocacy group has highlighted the plight of one voter: a white female who received the letter questioning her citizenship. The group’s blog site notes that this woman was born in Akron…as in Akron, Ohio.

Gee, Governor, the last time I checked the city of Akron, and the state of Ohio, were regarded as part of the United States….as in the United States of America! How could this woman be a non-citizen? Maybe your former Secretary of State was correct to doubt the accuracy of the lists.

No matter, Governor Scott has decreed that these voters need to go! So the inevitable court fights have begun, and more than a few voices have been raised that Washington should do something about this unjust action. Washington should be concerned since — as one voting rights group reminds us — a previous Presidential election was influenced by a purging of voters in 2000.

We all remember the election that year, don’t we? The one which wasn’t decided with a clear winner the morning after Election Day, and ended up being decided by the Supreme Court? The election that still makes liberals cringe with horror? Never mind the discomfort from one segment of the population: the fact that the 2000 election was decided by a nine men and women just does not make for good democracy.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen it could very well happen again, if Florida has its way. Actually, the governor is damn lucky that Florida wasn’t kicked out of the union for the trauma they put us through in 2000. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed; unfortunately, we can’t accuse Scott or any other of his GOP brethren who have passed voter laws in nearly three dozen other states of possessing cooler heads.

Obviously they don’t possess a sense of history either.  If they did they would know that these efforts were tried before. Perhaps they gained political advantage in the short term, but in the long run the backlash can be ruinous for the country as a whole. 
 
Honestly, doesn’t the memory of millions of Americans who sacrificed themselves for the continuing existence of our country deserve better than this?

(Thank you for reading.)

1 Comments:

Anonymous Janey said...

I like the larger font -- much easier to read! :-)

May 30, 2012 at 8:20 AM  

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