Skip to content
October 28, 2014 / needhamgrassroots

Vote, Dammit. Don’t Let Them Silence You.

vote dammit

Important essay from Bill Moyers (author of many such amazing essays)…

Our country’s oldest and longest struggle has been to enlarge democracy by making it possible for more and more people to be treated equally at the polls. The right to participate in choosing our representatives – to vote — is the very right that inflamed the American colonies and marched us toward revolution and independence.

So it’s unbelievable and frankly outrageous that in the last four years, close to half the states in this country have passed laws to make it harder for people to vote. But it’s true.

As this country began, only white men of property could vote, but over time and with agitation and conflict, the franchise spread regardless of income, color or gender. In the seventies, we managed to lower the voting age to 18. Yet a new nationwide effort to suppress the vote, nurtured by fear and fierce resistance to inevitable demographic change, has hammered the United States.

And this must be said, because it’s true: While it once was Democrats who used the poll tax, literacy tests and outright intimidation to keep Black people from voting, today, in state after state, it is the Republican Party working the levers of suppression. It’s as if their DNA demands it. Here’s what Paul Weyrich, one of the founding fathers of the conservative movement, said back in 1980: “I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact our [conservative] leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.” […]

The right’s rationale is that people — those people — are manipulating the system to cheat and throw elections. But rarely – meaning almost never — can they offer any proof of anyone, anywhere, showing up at the polling place and trying illegally to cast a ballot. …

The real reason for the laws is to lower turnout, to hold onto power by keeping those who in opposition from exercising their solemn right — to make it hard for minorities, poor folks, and students, among others, to participate in democracy’s most cherished act.

And you wonder why so many feel disconnected and disaffected? Forces in this country don’t want people to vote at the precise moment when turnout already is at a low, when what we really should be doing is making certain that young people are handed their voter registration card the moment they get a driver’s license, graduate from high school, arrive at college or register at Selective Service. …

Ari Berman put it this way: “…the more people that vote, the less power the special interests have. If you can restrict the number of people who participate, it’s a lot easier to rig the political system.”

And Sherrilyn Ifill, (NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund) noted, “For people who don’t have [access to power via money], the way we all become equal on Election Day is that we cast that ballot… [So voter suppression efforts are] not just about corporate interests. It is about power.  And it is about trying to suppress the voice of those who are the most marginalized.”

So vote, dammit. It is, as President Lyndon Johnson said when he signed the Voting Rights Act, “the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice.”

But don’t stop there. Engage, and start the conversation of democracy where you live — in your apartment complex, on your block, in your neighborhood.

There is always at least one kindred spirit within reach to launch the conversation. Build on it.

via Don’t Let Them Silence You: Vote, Dammit. | BillMoyers.com.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: