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January 20, 2014


My followers know that I have just concluded a four-part essay on an antebellum America where slavery was legal depending upon where it was practiced. Slavery was known by some as a “peculiar institution” at the time. Thus the right to own another human being depended in part upon whether you lived in Alabama or Michigan, for instance. I think that is very peculiar! How could anybody either North or South even then imagine that patchwork federal rights and privileges could be constitutionally doled out depending upon where one lived or by similar artificial standards?

So what’s next? Medicare is not available on Tuesdays and Fridays, or if so, only in states west of the Mississippi River? How far can we rationally take exclusions or inclusions of federal rights and privileges depending upon the day of the week or the state of residence? Are those happenstances appropriate criteria for determining one’s constitutional rights under the Equal Protection Amendment and the Privileges and Immunities Clause to our Constitution? Yes? No? If so, on what grounds?

What about skin color and sexual orientation? Are those happenstances appropriate criteria for determining one’s constitutional rights and privileges? How about age and economic status – national origin and political points of view etc. etc. etc.? Where do we stop in coming up with criteria to deny  rights and privileges to happenstance groupings of Americans while providing them to others?

The Republican party is in internal disarray currently with its tea partiers and libertarian anarchists and only controls the House of Representatives because of its outrageous gerrymandering of congressional districts in the recent decennial boundary game. Total Democratic votes outnumbered Republican votes for the House by the hundreds of thousands in the last congressional election.  Through artificial means designed to skew the electoral process, we are being ruled by a minority in the House, and are paying dearly for it. It is not a “House of Representatives;” it is a House of Obstruction apparently determined to end representative democracy by thwarting its goals in denying the vote to those who do not agree with either the Republican party’s  tactics or their governing philosophy (if they have one). Their arrogance in committee hearings is breath taking, especially when you consider that they had to tilt the playing field in order to pretend they are in the majority, which they are not. Abusers of the democratic system include a committee chairman, Issa of California, whose combative attitude and abuse of power has morphed from mere arrogance into full-blown insolence. He has earned expulsion.

The party represents a decided overall minority, but along with its gerrymandering, has come up with a new (and very artificial) standard to suppress the Democratic vote. Several state legislatures controlled by Republicans apparently do not wish to adopt policies that would attract more voters to their cause; they instead have decided to suppress the vote of their Democratic opponents by requiring pictures and other such identification on grounds of prevention of voter fraud. A recent study shows that there has been voter fraud on the order of .0002 in recent elections, not enough to change the result of any election ever. It is clearly a solution searching for a problem, and is pretentious and disgusting.

It is obviously designed to suppress the Democratic vote, and its pretended exclusion of a citizen’s federally guaranteed right to vote, a right bought and paid for by the blood of millions of martyrs, is, in my view, unconstitutional. (I can even imagine a situation in which a widow by reason of her military husband’s death in Iraq or Afghanistan is denied her right to vote at her neighborhood polling station because she forgot her purse.)

Such suppression statutes partake of the same phony criteria described earlier in this offering, i.e., state legislatures may now decide FEDERAL as well as state and local voting rights on the basis of possession of STATE-APPROVED pieces of identification. I think the criteria employed as a rationale for the exercise of one’s right to vote in such states is non-existent. Voter fraud is so miniscule that it should be ignored; the whole thing is absurd, transparently and disgustingly political in nature, an affront to democracy.

Speaking of absurdities, and taking this to its dry if illogical end, perhaps we should have Democratic state legislatures come up with a reverse – ALEC bill requiring everyone who makes over $100,000 per annum to come to the polls with certified results of blood tests (to be measured by poll workers against state-approved readings of cholesterol count), and if the count does not meet the statutory requirements, then deny the ballot to such voters. Income levels and cholesterol counts are very important in determining the qualifications of a voter for presidents and mayors, right?  Asinine?  Designed to suppress the Republican vote?  Of course, but no more ridiculous than requiring a picture of oneself on state-approved paper (such as it may be from one state to another) which purports to solve a problem that does not exist. (At least cholesterol is a “problem” while voter fraud is not, but solution of such problems if they exist belongs in a different forum and not in a voter qualification context.)

I have what I consider to be a rational view that one’s qualifications to vote should not be based on pictures,  cholesterol count or any other contrived criterion unrelated to exercise of this almost sacred franchise of the democratic process. I think of the vote as a fundamental right of the governed to vote for those who would govern them and a civil right guaranteed by the Constitution bought and paid for by blood-soaked patriots, and I don’t think kindly of any ward-heeling politician of any party who would suppress such an ultimate expression of democracy by otherwise qualified voters of any party.

James Madison and John C. Calhoun had that argument almost two centuries ago. Calhoun thought that sovereignty rested with the individual states while Madison insisted that sovereignty rested with the people. Madison won, but it appears that state Republican politicians have decided to limit the peoples’ sovereign right to vote based upon solving a supposed problem that does not exist – “voter fraud.”

While one cannot generalize from the particular, I have read of one anecdotal experience recently which points up the exasperating outcome of enforcement of state statutes requiring identification as a prerequisite to voting. It seems this lady, who had voted at the same polling station for 40 years and was personally acquainted with the poll workers who were her friends and neighbors, was nevertheless denied her right to vote because she did not possess appropriate identification as defined by the state. Query – What “voter fraud” did that denial prevent?

I daresay that far more people have been cheated out of their right to vote in such states by voter suppression statutes than those  two-ten thousandth of a percent who are actual cheats (though their “cheating” doesn’t change election results).  Voter suppression statutes are largely anti-Democrat in their effect, but Republicans who forgot their wallets and purses or who do not otherwise have the appropriate identification as demanded by statute are out of luck as well. This is democracy?  GERALD  E


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