I am attempting something quite fool hardy today. Cover a delicate subject with lots of complexities in a short blog...while battling the flu. None the less, let's march on!
In America we take quite seriously the right to vote. There are constant political battles over the Republicans pushing for voter ID laws which Democrats say only serve as a poll tax or even worse a scare tactic to keep minority voters away. Republicans fear that Democrats are stuffing the ballot boxes with illegal aliens. They say say in order for every vote to count only those eligible to vote can be allowed to be counted. But why do we have the right to vote? Or better yet, what is our power to vote supposed to do for the country?
Thomas Jefferson believed that a man should own property. He set it at 50 acres in order to have a vote in Virginia. There were different rules for each state but most agreed with the idea of owning something. In South Carolina we allowed store owners to count their merchandise towards the value of their property where as Virginia did not. But all states had a minimum of ownership in the state at one time before you were allowed to vote. The reason is quite obvious. Those who own property aren't planning on leaving and are going to vote for what they believe will be the good of their town, state country. The right to vote was eventually expanded in 1820 to all white men and then again in 1868 with the 14th amendment citizenship was redefined. The 15th amendment of 1870 did away with race, the 19th amendment of 1920 allowed women, and finally in 1971 the 26th amendment allowed those 18 and older to vote. All of these things are good! Dividing power up among everyone should work for our benefit. But we have become a nation of too few voting for the good of the country and rather are voting for our own good.
Politicians are aware of this and now pander to appease their constituents and their short term goals of being happy this year or the next. That would change if more American's felt "pride of ownership" in their country. Not only will they live their entire lives here but presumably their children and grandchildren. As we move into the 2014 election season I would like for us all to think of ways to help everyone take ownership in America. Too many people seem to just be living in America, rather than working towards America's good. Obviously there never was a time, nor will there ever be a time when everyone who lives here is contributing to the overall well being of this land. But perhaps we can re-spark a flicker of patriotism. Remind people of what their ancestors knew. That this is the land of the free and the home of the brave. Being brave doesn't come easy. It involves standing up to to odds that seem insurmountable. And perhaps that's what we face now. Insurmountable odds that we can turn this thing around. But I wouldn't bet against us...