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Posts Tagged ‘voter suppression’

You’ve Got To Fight, For Your Right, To Vote!

September 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Remember when the working-poor, students, the elderly, and people of color were committing fraud by falsely documenting voter registration forms in order to vote in an American election?

Yeah.  Me either.

The last year or so, we have seen an increase in voter suppression laws all across the country, so much so that it could be devastating to the electorate this coming election and hand the Republican party’s, Mitt Romney (and many other horribly selected Republican candidates), a clear victory on November 6 if we don’t do something to stop it.

“So, wait…what is going on?” you ask?

I know.  It’s confusing, right?  All along you thought you could just show up at your local polling place and just…vote!  I mean, this is America.

Wrong.

It’s not going to be that easy for millions of people this year, who may face a considerable amount of drama due to very repressive and restrictive laws keeping honest American’s from exercising their most basic right.

Ok.  So for the last year or so, leadership in states like Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, (and many, MANY more) insist voter fraud is incredibly prevalent across their communities and must be intensely scrutinized.  However, fraud is almost non-existent and nothing like described on the far-right.  In fact, there have only been a few cases of some questionable voting practices but nowhere near what Republican’s and conservatives on the right are claiming.  Instead, what we find is that your chances of getting eaten by a shark are greater than for there being any issue with voter fraud.

But these suppression laws have passed and although some have been shot down by a higher court or are facing the courts now due to appeal from many legal entities attempting to defend our voter rights, these laws struck down are still, believe it or not, being implemented by many across the state.

Ok.  So you’re sitting there thinking, “well, what’s wrong with showing our IDs?”  “What could honestly be the big deal?”  Well, there are many reasons why many of us defenders of voting rights find this problematic.  First and foremost, not all people have the privilege of having an ID.  Sure, it’s not something that’s denied to anyone, but not everyone needs to have one for everyday use and to get one just to vote would be costly for many. According to a study from NYU’s Brennan Center, 11 percent of voting-age citizens lack necessary photo ID while many people in rural areas have trouble accessing ID offices.  Furthermore, states that provide free ID cards are a great alternative, but what happens to those who can’t afford to pay for additional costs such as having to pay to provide additional documents to obtain this ID card they may never use after election day? (i.e. birth certificate) Finally, there is an incredible disadvantage for these groups as well as those agencies needing to provide the documentation.  Many of these laws were thrown into the law books way too far into election season.  Think about it.  Election day is in less than 40 days and many government agencies that usually provide these identification cards may or may not have the processing capability or capacity to provide these cards in a timely fashion.

This morning, Melissa Harris Perry made it very clear, this isn’t a “Fox News” moment.  Let’s not get all “conspiracy theorist-like,” but the issue is clear.  The demographics affected the most by these laws (noted above) are groups that have historically voted for the Democratic candidate.  So it is no coincidence that here we are, a few weeks away from an important presidential election and these laws could prevent millions of voters from voting.  More importantly, preventing those same people from voting for a candidate they voted for overwhelmingly in 2008.

BUT PRESIDENT OBAMA IS AHEAD IN THE POLLS?

So right now, yes.  President Obama is ahead in the polls.  But these polls mean absolutely nothing if people are unable to exercise their basic right to vote.  Think about that.  Also this about this.  If voting doesn’t matter to many of us out there unwilling to participate in this very basic right, than why is the Republican party doing everything in their power to take that one right away from us.

The Republican party insists fraud is occurring and that it is mostly coming from groups many progressives represent (like those mentioned above).  But check this out! Yesterday it was discovered that a consulting agency being paid for by the the Republican Party, may have committed fraud themselves.  According to developing reports, Strategic Allied Consulting, a firm collaborating with others who have a history of tampering with Democratic forms, has been fired by the Republican Party due to serious discrepancies in voter registration forms across the country.

Aside from this situation itself, a very awful recording was discovered from a local Republican phone banker in Florida, stating the following:

Y’all sound like y’all are senior citizens, right? Yeah. We don’t want — you don’t want Obama. You really don’t want Obama because he’ll get rid of your Medicare. You might as well say goodbye to it. Yeah, and I don’t know if you’ve done any research on Obama or not, but he is a Muslim. He is — got a socialistic view on the, you know, the economy, the government, the whole nine yards. Um, if he had his way, we would be a socialistic country. Okay, really, do. Pay attention to Fox News. If you can get out and watch that movie 2016 do so. That has a lot of good information. Just really the newspapers and the Fox News will help you out; will help you. Okay, appreciate it sir. Thank you. Uh huh. Bye-bye.

Voter suppression laws are real but they aren’t real in the way the Republican party is portraying it to the rest of us.  Students, the elderly, people of color, and the low-income and working poor are not responsible for any decline in our democracy.  It is the Republican party and the shadiness that they continue to delve into in order to gain power and win elections.  This coming November we need to beat them with real power.

Our right to vote.

 

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The Rubio Dispatch – 2011 Year In Review and Beyond

January 1, 2012 1 comment

As 2011 ends and we head into 2012, I can’t help but stop and wonder about what challenges and opportunities lay ahead in the coming year. Not just for the nation itself, but for the world.

As a nation, we’re facing extraordinary social and economic issues that have plagued this country for years and 2011 showed us that perhaps those challenges will spill over into the coming year. I’m certain that things may get worse before they get better, but it is very telling that 2011 has shown us that throughout the world, millions of people, under the direst of circumstances, have shown a kind of resilience that I didn’t think we had in us as a people.

I saw this almost immediately in early 2011 with the rise of the Arab Spring. Many unfamiliar with the region learned of places like Tunisia, which was the first of many to relinquish their right from generational-long tyranny. As things moved along into Egypt and Libya, it was apparent that things were not going to slow down. In the United States, we were met with incredible protests in places like Wisconsin and Ohio. Labor was facing extinction and suddenly, the working class was in full force, protesting the harsh legislation being pushed by anti-union state officials. By the summer, the rest of the world was seeing massive protests, with the rise of Occupy Wall Street here in the United States and anti-austerity protests in Greece and other cities across Europe. You would have to have been living under a rock to not see the impact these revolutions and massive protests were having across the world. Regardless of what your opinion is on the Middle East uprising or Occupy Wall Street for that matter, something is happening…something I never thought would.

A year ago, I was disillusioned. Personally and professionally, I was beginning a tumultuous journey in my own life all the while feeling an incredible disappointment in society in general, knowing that too many had grown complacent with the status quo and felt no reason to assemble or stand up for what was right. So I was surprised at how 2011 began and in a way I did not expect at all. Tunisia and Wisconsin, two completely different worlds, were both faced with a battle to bring “people” and “ideas” to the forefront. We were no longer going to sit back and watch the top take what was rightfully ours. The general population was ready for a fight. As my year became increasingly challenging, I was also beginning to feel inspired. The tides were shifting.

As we move forward into 2012, questions remain. Will the economy get better? How will the middle and working class fit into the equation? We’ve learned overtime that austerity does not work, particularly in an era in which the gap between rich and poor are so great. What is the alternative? What will become of human rights and immigration reform? Will we ever get a chance to debate the DREAM Act?

This is the question we will be asking in 2012 as the United States and other countries around the world hold elections. Every other election year, we say that it is a “defining moment.” We believe each and every time that this election is the one that will make or break our chances of overcoming the challenges that lay ahead. Will the 2012 election here in American be the defining moment in our own lives or will we treat it the way we have done every other election in the history of this country?

The coming election is an important one, plain and simple. There is just too much at stake. This last year, we have seen attempts to strip away the rights of so many in our communities.

UNION BUSTING

Unions have faced incredible challenges in the Midwest and in other parts of the country in the last year. Entities that have only helped to enrich our working and middle classes overtime, helping to salvage deteriorating working conditions and advocating for balanced work hours and pay, are now confronted with the possibility of having their right for collective bargaining stripped, adding an incredible burden on the backs of hard working individuals all across the country. Fortunately, November 8 put an end to the threat in Ohio, where Governor Kasichs union busting bill was overwhelmingly defeated by the citizens of Ohio. Furthermore, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is facing an inevitable recall in 2012 after his own push against the union’s in his own state, took a turn for the worst against him and his supporters. American’s in these two states have in fact, taken the lead to defend the working-class across the nation.

OPERATION EAGLE EYE

Voter suppression is clearly a hot topic today, but it is going to be a continuing battle in 2012. As we move forward with supporting our candidates, Republican-led legislatures in states across the country are pursuing legislation targeting and could deter people of color and the elderly from voting in masses. A right that millions would die for in other parts of the world is now being threatened here at home. An Op-ed piece by Heather Digby Parton from Al-Jazeera gives a very clear outline of the historical significance voter suppression has made in this country at the hands of Republican operatives. Various reports throughout 2011 have illustrated an intensifying debate and political maneuvering that could undermine any real and true democracy in the coming elections in 2012. What are we going to do to stop this suppression and keep a basic American right, in tact?

AMERICAN JOBS ARE NOT IN MY UTERUS

Early 2011 showed us that the Conservatives, a group committed to “small government,” pursued a woman’s uterus with a vengeance (and not in a sexy way). Early on in 2011, the Republican-led Congress, who campaigned on “where are the jobs?” in 2010, focused on a woman’s right to choose in its first few bills introduced in Congress. This same issue spilled over to the states nation-wide, particularly in states like Mississippi, where an amendment was introduced that read, “The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization.” Personhood amendments could be interpreted to make several forms of birth control illegal, challenging not only Roe v. Wade but also Griswold v. Connecticut, which placed contraception under the protection of a constitutional right to privacy. Women and men of all ages came out in droves, challenging lawmakers and defeating the measure on November 8. A huge win for pro-choice advocates at the grassroots level, who not only defied expectations, but showed that once again, a woman’s right to choose will not be taken. The fight continues as the right continues to pursue and challenge individual rights as they attempt to covet a long historical ideology of “small government.”

WE’RE OUT. WE’RE PROUD. GET USED TO IT.

The LGBT community, which has endured a very long civil right’s history, has encountered many challenges in 2011, yet experienced very successful benchmarks in the last 18 months. With the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and states like New York legalizing gay marriage, gay activists continue to face strong opposition from groups on the right and evangelical Christians committed to stripping away these individual rights. In some cases, there have been attempts from these groups, here at home, to support “kill the gays” legislation in other parts of the world, a demonstration that this isn’t the end for anti-gay legislation and that perhaps the issue will only see greater backlash from the right. How do we continue to keep American’s engaged in this issue of gay rights and maintain momentum against those interested in destroying the lives of millions of American’s who only want the best for themselves and their families, regardless of sexual orientation?

THE I-WORD

Finally, there are our undocumented brethren across this country, who are currently facing the gravest of threats to their own liberty. At the end of 2010, Congress had an opportunity to debate the DREAM Act, an undeniably bi-partisan and forward-thinking piece of legislation, but the debate never made it to the floor of the United States Senate and the bill was dead on arrival. Instead, Republican’s (once supporters of the bill), with the help of Blue Dog Democrats, filibustered any attempt to bring it to the floor and the DREAM Act died. While the bill itself died last December, the dream for 12 million undocumented individuals in this country have not. Since then, young and undocumented individuals all across the country have been coming out and publicly disclosing their immigration status, regardless of the extreme consequences they face as the Obama administration announced in 2011 the nearly 400,000 deportations Immigration and Customs Enforcement made. No longer will young undocumented immigrants remain silent. There is too much at risk to continue to live in the shadows of a broken immigration system. In 2011, we were introduced to Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize winner, who came out as an undocumented immigrant and has led a nationwide conversation to Define American. A pursuit to change the American immigration debate and declare that we are human, not illegal.

2011 was not the best year, but it wasn’t the worst either. The world survived undeniable suffering, but there were hints of a pursuit to survive throughout the world, despite the ultimate chaos and turmoil that exists. 2012 is a mythical year, who many see as an end to all that we have come to know. However, I believe that it is the start of a new era which will provide us with an opportunity to engage our communities and demonstrate a greater good for all. At least that’s my hope. We shall see…