At first, it didn’t hit me.
It was the holiday season; Christmas was fast approaching, and retailers wanted profits.
So, three or four days before Christmas, some of them announced that they would keep their doors open, extend their hours, to accommodate shoppers. Kohl’s would be open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Macy’s would be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Stores opened on Thanksgiving to give shoppers a head start.
They wanted to be sure to please their patrons. On the surface, if one was a shopper, that seemed like a nice gesture.
But then it hit me. States all over this nation sought to restrict the days and hours during the day that people could vote in the mid-term elections in 2014.
We are important enough, in other words, to accommodate when business wants our money, but we are not important enough to accommodate when we try to exercise the right we have as Americas to vote.
For shopping, there is some understanding that people might find it hard to get to the stores because of their busy schedules.
For voting, no such understanding is given. The sentiment is, or seems to be, “if you want to vote, you will find a way to get there in these proscribed hours and on these proscribed days.”
The movie Selma is released tomorrow. The fight in Selma was about the fight to get the right to vote. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed …but since then, there has been serious, organized opposition to that law, which has resulted in the slow dismantling of all that that law made possible.
Americans are free to spend their money; this nation will help Americans spend their money, but this nation will NOT help people exercise their right to vote.
Shop until you drop …but go sit down somewhere and don’t complain if you can’t get to the polls on the limited days and times which the government has made possible.
How come some Americans don’t see anything wrong with this picture? How come some …or, I might say, many …Americans scoff at the notion that some people really do need more days and times to vote than others? How come it’s OK to go overboard to get people to spend their money, but not OK to provide more days and times to vote?
All of the voter suppression we have seen is the result of the vast numbers of African-Americans and other marginalized groups having been able to vote in 2008 and 2012. The lives of the marginalized were considered and honored; people who had never voted before finally got the opportunity.
It was glorious. It was democracy, right? It was evidence that “all men are created equal.” It was about a level playing field. Parity. Equity. Democracy exercised generations after Jefferson et al drew up our Constitution.
But the glory has faded and continues to do so. The powers that be didn’t like marginalized people showing up en masse, causing this country to lean toward true democracy. So, they have worked to dismantle nearly all of the gains made in the Civil Rights movement …while simultaneously making it easier for people to shop using money they do not have so that the rich can get richer and the marginalized can remain marginalized.
At first, it went past me. I missed it. It didn’t hit me.
But I get it now, and it makes me sigh.
Democracy is an ideal and an idea that looks good on paper.
But when the task of making and maintaining democracy is thrown to the people, it might as well be thrown to the wolves.
People don’t want democracy. They want power and money and will do anything they must to obtain it.
I get it now …and I am not impressed. My concept of democracy, where “the least of these” are considered as human and are treated as such, is not real. It never has been.
A candid observation …