by Wilmer Leon
Legislators represent people not trees or acres.. As long as ours is a representative form of government, and our legislatures are those instruments of government elected directly by and directly representative of the people, the right to elect legislators in a free and unimpaired fashion is a bedrock of our political system. . .the weight of a citizens vote cannot be made to depend on where he lives. . . the Equal Protection Clause demands no less than substantially equal state legislative representation for all citizens, of all places as well as all races.” U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren – Reynolds v. Sims 1964
Thomas Jefferson, building upon the works of Enlightenment philosophers such as John Locke, Thomas Hobbs, Algernon Sidney and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, believed that all men possess certain “natural,” or fundamental rights; rights which all men are born with; rights that cannot be taken away. Each of the natural rights emphasized a facet of what makes humans human. “That to secure these natural rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
The process that we in this country have instituted that enables the Government to exercise its power is the vote – suffrage, the political franchise.
The African-American community is very sensitive to the vote, the political franchise because of the torturous and bloody history that reflects the struggles and battles that have been fought in order to secure its right to vote. One-person – one vote, the concept that was articulated by Chief Justice Earl Warren in Reynolds v. Sims is the cornerstone of Jeffersonian Democracy. Implicit in this ideal of one-person one vote is the assumption that if a person is registered to vote they will be allowed to do so and if they cast a vote – that vote will in fact be counted!
After all, what good is it – what sense does it make – why would a citizen take the time from their busy day to cast a vote if that vote is not going to be recognized and counted? Why would Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer risk her lively hood, her life and the security of her family to secure the franchise if the vote that she risked her life to secure would not be counted? Mrs. Hamer did not risk her life so that she could vote. She put her life on the line so that America would live up to its fundamental precepts enabling all of its citizens to enjoy the freedoms found in the home of the free and land of the brave. It was Mrs. Hamer who said, “One night I went to the church. They had a mass meeting… and they talked about how it was our right that we could register and vote… That sounded interesting enough to me that I wanted to try it. I had never heard, until 1962, that black people could register and vote… When they asked for those to raise their hands who’d go down to the courthouse the next day, I raised mine…I guess if I’d had any sense I’d’ve been a little scared, but what was the point of being scared? The only thing they could do to me was kill me and it seemed like they’d been trying to do that a little bit at a time ever since I could remember.”
Why did Ms. Ruby Sales, Ms. Annie Pearl Avery, Mrs. Dorie Ladner, Willie Ricks and so many others in SNCC and other organizations risk their lives during those long hot days and dangerous dark lonely nights on those hate-filled treacherous back roads in Alabama, Mississippi and other parts of the South, convincing sharecroppers and other oppressed African Americans that it was worth the risk to register to vote and then to show up at the polls to vote?
Why have White supremacists used lynching, the burning of homes and churches and other tactics of domestic terrorism to keep people of color from exercising their 15th Amendment right? As investigative journalist Greg Palast has written, they’ve changed their tactics from white sheets to spread sheets but the motivation and outcome is still the same.
One-person one vote is the ideal that America has used time and again as a philosophical weapon against its enemies and the rational for undermining if not overthrowing tyrants, dictators and “evil” heads of foreign governments.
So, with this premise being true and I challenge anyone to challenge the accuracy of this premise –I have just four questions:
First, in the context of this recent 2016 presidential election, with the irrefutable evidence that is presented by Greg Palast and others, why is the Republican Party the party of voter suppression and election fraud? Why have 30 Republican Secretaries of State used Kris Kobach’s Crosscheck program to remove legally registered voters from the rolls. According to Palast, “Starting in 2013 – just as the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act – a coterie of Trump operatives, under the direction of Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State, created a system to purge 1.1 million Americans of color from the voter rolls of GOP–controlled states.”
Second, why is it that the Democratic Party is so conspicuously silent and so reluctant to use the irrefutable evidence that has been presented to challenge these crimes and pursue these criminals? They should be fighting to the death to protect voting rights and count the votes of every citizen who cast or tried to cast a ballot.
Third, why has President Barak Obama and his Attorney General Loretta Lynch been conspicuously silent on this issue? It’s not that the election was stolen from Hilary Clinton; it was stolen from the American people and as president of “all Americans” he should be using his bully pulpit to call attention to this fraud. He swore an oath to protect this country from all enemies both foreign and domestic. If the CIA can track Russian hackers why can’t the Department of Justice track Republicans? You don’t have to go to the Kremlin, just go to Kansas!
President Obama has said that his pet project after he leaves office will be to restore the right to vote as a Constitutional right. Well, that’s great and quite noble. Close the door after the cows are out of the barn and in the fields trampling the crops. Once Trump gets hold of the Supreme Court Obama’s efforts will be moot.
Fourth, why has most of mainstream media failed to do half of the investigative reporting that Greg Palast has done on this issue? Why is the Fourth Estate allowing this fraud to be perpetrated upon the American people?
Ensuring that every eligible voter can vote and every cast vote is counted should be the fundamental focus of every Secretary of State in this country regardless of their party affiliation. Every vote that was cast in this 2016 election should be counted and the election should not be certified until they are.
Deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…if every vote is not counted due to the fact that subversive tactics were employed to ensure that they would not be, then the powers that a President Trump will derive and exercise will not be just because the consent of the governed will not have been granted.
If one-person one vote is supposed to be the cornerstone of our democracy then those who engage in the acts of subverting that right are un-American.