Restricting Student Voting-Is it Fascism from the Right?
Being retired, I seem to have a lot of time on my hands. I spend a great time reading the news and opinion as to what is going on around me. So what was it that stuck in my craw this morning?
I read an article from the Washington Post and the Boston Globe, hardly ‘liberal rags’ unless you are against all print journalism in principle. The article is entitled: “Taking aim at the student vote”. A GOP controlled legislature in New Hampshire is planning legislation to limit the franchise rights of temporary residents. In a quote from William O’Brien, the House Speaker, who while not explicitly backing the bill has been openly critical of student voting, recently telling a group of residents that college students are “basically doing what I did when I was a kid and foolish, and voting as a liberal.’’
The Boston Globe article referenced a 1972 Supreme Court ruling that said that in the case of an Hawaiian student attending school at Dartmouth that he could not be prohibited from voting by the city of Hanover merely because his parents lived in Hawaii along with his expressing the intent of not remaining in Hanover, NH.
So what are we playing at here? First of all each state has its residency requirements, as long as those are met, you are a resident, period. I recently moved to Hawaii, no one asked me what my intentions of staying were. I met the requirements associated with becoming a resident mainly by having a permanent residence and maintaining that status for a specific amount of time. Let’s be practical, know one truly knows what their plans will be, whether they plan to stay or leave, and I don’t think that it is appropriate of the authorities to ask. Who decides to subject students and other newcomers to a differing standard?
Conservatives argue that this group, mostly college students have no vested interests in how the community in which they live, for as many a four year or more, is run. Their votes overwhelm the votes of more established residents who are assumed to have a more vested interest. I live in America, is not one man, one vote the cardinal rule? So why are the votes of established residents more important than my vote, even though I am a resident according to state laws as of yesterday? Just because I am a student does not mean that I am not concerned with how the area in which I reside is governed. It is sort of simplisitic to think that college students are just interested in beer and parties and that they need to leave the business of governance in the capable and paternalistic care of those who have a ‘so called’ stake, whatever that is. Poppycock!!
The laws as drafted and put forward by the New Hampshire GOP would have the effect of disenfranchising a large swath of younger voters, and they know this. I am irked at Conservatives who appear to stop at nothing to make certain that their grab for power is a successful one. The first target was ACORN, an organization that sought to promote the franchise among poor and minority voters. The second assualt was on public sector unions, a strong constituency of the Democrats, with third and last attack on the younger voter, who generally votes in the progressive column. For the the Conservative, this amounts to the three headed hydra, that it is determined to destroy. But, I am here to sound the clarion call. Is there not a pattern here? I am most certain that other GOP dominated state legislatures will try to follow suit, because it is their way.
There is a more sinister and underlying theme expressed by Mr. O’Brien, House Speaker. This is not Rush Limbaugh or some dittohead, but a responsible member of New Hampshire state government, who revealed before a tea party audience, that it is ok to disenfranchise certain people because he deems them immature. He says that because they vote on the progressive side of the political ledger. From where does that arrogance derive? In that stupid statement he reveals unsupportable biases and the political motive for the attempts at disenfranchising. What makes me think that intellectually sclerotic old white men like him are any more capable? Well, relative to most college students, I am an old black man. I have been around long enough to recall people saying the same things about black people and using every dirty trick to disenfranchise them. This is nothing new, it is as old as the republic itself, a handful of elitists taking a paternalistic tack to deny voting rights to everybody else. Whether you are a young conservative or liberal voter, you need to pay attention to how easily certain people are willing to deny you the right to participate.
When I was between the age of 18-21, I was resentful of being told that while I had responsibilities of an adult, certain privileges were being withheld. I don’t like second class citizenship for myself or for anyone else. When we raised a ruckus during the Vietnam conflict, the voice of youth was one to be reckoned with and the right of the 18 year old to vote was a result. Well, young people, this is a time to again make noise and get the attention of those who bring down even greater threats to your liberty. The Conservative and the GOP are so determined to take the wrench and hammer and bang the hands of that clock until it actually runs backward.
This is all part of a plot to create not just a permanent upper class, but a permanent ruling class and that is something which should alarm us all. The voter fraud issue is just a ruse on their part. The timing of the sudden desire to want to disenfranchise the young voter is suspect, it is not as if college students have never attending school away from home. I challenge thoughful opinion from the political right to ‘weigh-in’ on this article.