Editorial

We Americans continue to let voting, democracy slip away

“Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?” “A Republic, if you can keep it.” — Benjamin Franklin answering a question after the Constitutional Convention of 1787

“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” — Sir Winston Churchill

ACHTUNG: This is not a “fair and balanced” story. It is an editorial by the editor.

I hear tell our esteemeVoting artd State Legislature now is considering a bill to eliminate the February elections each year from the roster of eligible voting dates annually, reducing it from four to three. Passage would mean all elections in Michigan could only be held without penalty in May, August and November.

Proponents insist that few people vote in February elections anyway, especially because many older citizens are snowbirds, fleeing the winter to warmer climate in January, February and March. This is true, but the disturbing relentless trend continues against a cornerstone of our so-called democratic process.

Our patriotic classroom textbooks have told us all these years that the difference between us and the bad guys (communists, fascists, dictators, etc.) is that we the people have the power of the vote. But these days we seem to have swallowed the notion that too much voting is not a good thing. Nor is making voting something easy to do.

Analysis of news accounts from days gone by show us that special elections on issues were commonplace, particularly school millage and bond elections. They sometimes were held more than once year. Though some argued that once the matter was decided, the schools shouldn’t ask again, they failed to see that the schools were treating the issue like negotiations with the public.

Mark Twain once said, “if voting made a difference, they wouldn’t let you do it,” so why has there been such a concerted effort lately to have fewer elections and make it more difficult for the “unwashed masses” to cast their ballots?

In days gone by, it was difficult enough for the unwashed to go to the polls because they toil at jobs on election day, so they have only certain hours they can exercise their rights, usually from 7 to 8 a.m. or from 5:30 to 8 p.m., or during lunch hour with long lines.

Some of this problem has been eased by better availability of absentee ballots, particularly for senior citizens. But for too many, it remains a hassle to get to the voting booths and cast ballots.

Now comes added requirements such as photo ID, shutting out many people who don’t drive.

If we’re so proud of having a democracy and being governed by the will of the people, why do we keep passively agreeing to fewer elections and more restrictions?

I hear tell the voting turnout for the November 2014 elections was the worst since 1942. Some observers have even compared it to 1830, when only free, white male landowners over 21 were eligible.

We American common everyday folks apparently are asleep at the switch while a small group of people with a lot of money want to keep things just the way they and are rigging the game to make sure the only changes are undemocratic.

“Forget I mentioned it. Rise for the flag salute.” — Frank Zappa

 

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