Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton, born October 26, 1947, is the 67th United States Secretary of State, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama. She was a United States Senator for New York from 2001 to 2009. As the wife of the 42nd President, Bill Clinton, she was the First Lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001. | Photo: Richard Phibbs
It began on November 7, 2000, eleven months into a new century and America was at the height of prosperity. In spite of all the challenges President Clinton
faced while in office, he would leave the White House with a revenue surplus and evidence that America's foreign debt would continue to shrink. If our leaders focused on America and not parties, our greatest fantasy would have been that the next President and all our representatives would ride this positive wave and take us to greater and greater heights. This would have been a shining example to the free world that America can land on the moon and continue to be prosperous and respect individual rights and freedoms while collectively keeping its citizens safe.
The first sign that we were about to begin an internal war between two parties vying for power over the American people began with the disenfranchisement of one of our basic American rights, the right to vote.
In the early hours of the 2000 presidential election the rumors began, and by the time it was over people were shouting in the streets at how they were literally turned away from the polls. Thousands of votes were not counted. This was not fraud. This was an open, brazen attack on one of America's most precious civil rights.
Yes, there were cries that it was the Republican Party, that the conservatives were chipping away at the core of being American, the right to vote. This entitlement dictates that each American is entitled to one voice, one vote. It is the soul of who we are, the single ideology that every single American can agree upon from all walks of life.
Then came the 2008 election and a primary was underway. The Democratic primaries began with eight presidential candidates which were slowly dwindled down to two, Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton and Senator Barack Obama. It was a close election, something the old-timers, who have been a part of politics their entire life, would share they had not seen the like of in the entire history of primaries. Talks of a dream team were echoing across the land. It was coming down to the wire and it would rest on the decision of how to handle the voices of the people from two states, the voices of Michigan and Florida, and then the most shocking thing happened. The voices of these two states were disenfranchised in a different way. These two states decided to go rogue and hold their primaries earlier than the GOP or the Democratic Party
The response by the GOP in 2008 was to exclude half of the states' delegates from the Republican convention. A party that normally advocates for state's rights silenced the voices of half these two states' delegates who represented millions of Americans.
The response from the Democratic Party would sadly have an even greater impact on the future of America. The election between the two candidates was very tight and the discussion arose among the national Democratic Party leaders as to whether to allow these two states to vote again or to simply accept their votes, because why blame the people for the decisions made by the states' Democratic Party officials. Instead the Democratic Party made the same decision as the GOP. A party
|Taxing our right to vote is the beginning of a slippery slope in the erosion of our civil rights.|
that normally advocates for the rights of the people and the rights of the disenfranchised also silenced millions of voices from two states by only seating half their delegates.
This turning point in American politics represents the widening gap between the voices of the average people, the voices of the elite, and our political leaders caught in the middle. It is also the beginning of a slip down a precipitous slop that clearly indicates that as more and more money flows into our election process, more and more the voices of the masses are being silenced.
We are now quickly approaching the presidential election of 2012, and once again voter disenfranchisement is in the news, more far-reaching, far more brazen and far more disturbing. Not since the lynchings of the south that scared people away from voting has America seen such a trend in the blocking of the right of one voice, one vote. This time, it is the modern-day Republican Party whose state-controlled legislatures are passing illegal laws requiring people to have a state-issued government ID, openly declaring that a voter registration card is just not good enough. It literally places a tax on an American citizen's fundamental right to vote and completely excludes everyone who cannot afford a government-issued ID. This is another inconsistency from a party that normally touts a platform of reducing taxes as a reason to vote for them.
NPR tells the story of Bea Bookler:
"I've voted my entire life, from the time I was old enough to vote," says Bea Bookler, 94, of Devon, PA.
She cast her first ballot for Franklin Roosevelt. But now, unless she can get to the motor vehicle office 10 miles from her home, she won't be able to vote in November.
"How would I get there and how would I manage to stand in a line?" says Bookler, who uses a walker. She says she can barely make it to the polling place next door to her retirement community. She also doesn't understand why she has to go to all this trouble in the first place. She already has a voter registration card.
"I have an ID which says I am registered to vote in Chester County. There is no reason why I should need anything else. It's an outrage," she says.
Can you truly call the modern Republican Party conservative? Conservative is normally a term applied to a group or person who tries to conserve a way of life, a tradition usually created by a visionary. From Jesus to Elizabeth I, from the Founding Fathers to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, from Mahatma Gandhi to Eleanor Roosevelt, from Rosa Parks to Martin Luther King, from the Mirabal Sisters to Cesar Chavez, history is filled with shining examples of extraordinary human beings who have moved humanity forward. True conservatives would not have presided over the transferring of jobs overseas, as this clearly jeopardizes a way of life. Nor would a true conservative representative of the people allow America to borrow money from a formidable foreign power.
Can you truly call the modern Democratic Party liberal, because a liberal who is also the beneficiary of the visionary spirits described above would equally not have assisted in jobs moving overseas or the dismantling of the laws that protected the people from the speculators of the day? Nor would a true democratic representative of the people allow America to borrow money from a formidable foreign power whose ideology is so different from our own.
Money and war are the two most fundamental tools used to frighten a society from protecting their liberties. Just read any history book, especially those documenting the rise of Nazi Germany. This election is not just about the economy and it is not just about our liberty. This election is not just about the President, Congress or the Senate. It is about all of it.
To distill this election down to one issue is foolish. No-one could have predicted the events following the 2000 presidential election, from the height of prosperity to 9/11 and all the events that have followed after, including two wars, countless disasters, the destruction of a great company Lehman Brothers, the bank bail outs, the collapse of the auto industry , historically high foreclosure rates and consistently high unemployment.
The 43rd President of the United States from 2001 to 2009, George W. Bush; The 44th President of the United States Barack Hussein Obama II who took office in 2009; and Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. | Photo: The White House
Throughout our history America has had its financial ebbs and flows, but it never used this as an excuse to take away our fundamental rights. We will ultimately grow financially, but it has taken centuries for humanity to champion the rights we now take for granted.
It is a testament to what we have achieved that there are countries still fighting today to have the one entitlement that all of humanity desires, the right to vote. Today, in the year 2012, there are still people putting their lives on the line, the way our founding fathers and mother's did, so they could have an ounce of what we already own.
If you don't think the issue of voter cards will affect you because heck, you have the money for your government issued ID, just think about the garment workers in the 70s who thought their jobs were safe but were then laid off as the first wave of jobs being shipped overseas happened, a modern-day trend that continues today, contributing to massive unemployment in this country. Taxing our right to vote is the beginning of a slippery slope in the erosion of our civil rights. Just as the entitlement of our right to worship enjoys a tax free haven, our civil rights must not be taxed.
You are now given the opportunity to look beyond the rhetoric of the speeches and the sound bites to analyze what these candidates, who wish to be our public servants, will actually do. Do we really want to have it all go away over money? Over a lack of compromise? Over the rights of the rich over the caring of the poor? Only you can decide how you can participate and protect the freedoms for yourself and your community. Only you can decide what is more important to you and who will best lead you toward the liberty, the freedoms and the economic prosperity you hold so dear. Only you can decide, at least for now.