There is a malodorous stench in the air as we enter the final six weeks of the current election season, and it emanates from an insidiously well-funded campaign to squash the most basic of all American rights; namely, the right to vote. A carefully orchestrated campaign has been afoot by well-heeled interests representing the wealthiest corporations and individuals in this country to suppress, depress, and flat-out deny a large swath of Americans the right to voice their opinion through the ballot box on the direction of the country and the promotion of values that accompany a swiftly changing population.
The abject fear and disdain of those who see hope and change as an enemy of the status quo has permeated the politics of this millennium and fostered a political and societal polarization that has rendered our governmental institutions incapable of functioning at anything approaching an acceptable level of efficiency or effectiveness (witness the abysmal approval ratings of Congress, on the verge of dipping down into single digits), let alone acceptability.
That a substantial portion of the electorate is willing to countenance and support such dysfunction is symptomatic of a wholesale perversion and distortion of the intentions of the Founding Fathers and the living document that has inspired the greatest democratic experiment the world has ever known. That these same individuals would characterize their efforts as patriotic is sadly laughable. In light of the current state of what passes for civil discourse or the lack of it, what is even more remarkable is the extent to which the Obama administration has succeeded in staunching further bleeding of an economic wound that quite easily could have been fatal. The final insult currently underway is an insanely destructive assault on civil liberties levied against a rapidly changing demographic that will see the nation become a majority minority society before mid-century.
What interests are served by these tactics? Who benefits and at what cost? As best as anyone with an ounce of intelligence or compassion can figure the country as a whole and an overwhelming number of its citizens will foot the bill for the moneyed interests that have benefitted from decisions like the Citizens United case and have profited handsomely off the misery of the under- and unemployed. It is outrageous and simply un-American. Yet foot soldiers that have been recruited to the cause, powered by the rise of the Tea Party, will not benefit from the inevitable growth in the gap between rich and poor, and will actually end up paying for it with the loss of government programs that they actually depend upon, read: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid nursing care costs. But the fear of change is so repugnant and threatening to them that they appear to be willing to forego not only their own self-interest but also the long-term interests of progress for the larger society as a whole. Could anything be further from the ideals upon which this country has stood over the course of its existence?
But there is a way that ordinary, common citizens can fight back and actually prevail, and that is to defy these denizens of disaster their just deserts by ensuring their collective voices are heard on Election Day and in those cases where early voting is still permitted to vote early. Regardless of the obstacles that may be erected to deny you this right, too many have died, sacrificed, and fought to ensure that your voice is heard. The most effective way to combat this attack on your rights is to vote in overwhelming numbers against those who wish to deny you an opportunity to participate in the American dream.
This is an open call to fight back, fight back against those who would perpetrate the most serious injustice since poll taxes and literacy tests operated to keep those who most needed representation from getting it. Fight this modern version of Jim Crow that is not only aimed at minorities but at those who find themselves being forced from the middle class. Fight back against those whose vision of America is compromised by their never-ending quest to control others and secure unnatural wealth and riches from the labor of others.
Fight back against those who consciously prefer profits over people. Fight back against those whose vision of America is one that never existed, namely a montage of images that portray a homogeneous society nurtured and supported by an opportunity-fed capitalism that had no limits. Fight back against those who promote fear and insecurity, who label altruism and compassion as socialistic concepts. Fight back against those who deplore government as a conduit of dependency rather than a vehicle for social and economic mobility that can indeed benefit the greater society and economy as a whole.
Fight back against those whose idea of individualism and self-reliance is dependent upon a corrupt tax system that incentivizes hoarding of wealth instead of reinvestment. Fight back against those who advance privatization of basic rights like health care, education, food and shelter to the detriment of millions who cannot afford them.
You can do this. In the great American spirit you have the power to turn back this tsunami of intolerance and ignorance by flexing your indignation. The only thing it requires is the will and commitment to say enough is enough and cast your ballot for a more hopeful tomorrow.
While I am a Democrat, I would argue against such injustice regardless of who was fomenting such. In this case it just so happens to be a Republican Party that bears no resemblance to its former self, a party that has been hijacked by a vocal minority so far out of touch with the plight of everyday Americans that is has no credibility in a discussion of where the country either is or should be going. The choices facing the American people are clear and the way to send a clear message to the world that we continue to stand on the principles of equality and justice for all those in our society is quite simply to vote.
To all those who are angry and wish to voice their resentment against business as usual, this is your chance. Show the world that your voices are as strong as your commitment to fairness and that being an American means standing up for yourselves and what is right. VOTE.
Follow Lance Simmens on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lancesimmens