Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pride and tears

I have had many proud moments in my life; watching the five kids becoming successful adults, watching grand-kids grow, graduating from UCD, getting my masters, and many more.  Looking back there was a time I am extremely proud of because I put personal gain and personal safety aside for the betterment of this nation and this world.  I stood on the outside of marches to protect the marchers.  I tried to provide first aid during police riots.  I got tear gassed.  I got attacked for my beliefs as I got off a city bus, but did not fight back.  I was part of a movement that made a difference.  Most of my effort was to end wars of aggression, and war in general.  (My sacrifice was small compared to others.)

Most of my work was in the anti-war movement with much less being involved in the Civil Rights Movement.  The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed 8 days before my 14th birthday and that year I worked for the election of President Johnson.  That included work on the effort to get out the vote.  I did support the movement throughout my teen years, and am proud of my contribution.

Some things are better now than they were.  My office is almost all white, but not all white.  My manager, Mr Bhakta is expecting their first daughter and they are curious what she will look like because of their interracial marriage.  Those that clean the restrooms are not all black and Hispanic.  Things are a little better, but there is still much to do.

We changed the world, but in so many ways we failed.  As a kid I used to hear the jets and wonder if that was the one that carried the end of human life.  Now that jet flies too high to hear.  We are still the world's aggressor creating wars at will.  But, until recently voter right was a victory I thought would last.  Obama might have already lost this election because of the rise of Jim Crow voting laws.  Let me explain.

Especially in swing state there has been a coordinated effort to purge the voter roles of people likely to vote Democratic.  Much of this has been coordination through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  Repeatedly in swing state after swing state you will hear that they are trying to eliminate voter fraud, and creating laws that will make it more difficult or impossible for low income, minority, and student voters from voting.  (Under the law currently being blocked by the Justice Department a gun permit is valid ID to vote in Texas but a student ID is not!)  Yet there is no evidence of wide spread voter fraud.  Let me expand. 
* Typical evidence is like this (
** "Sundland Park, New Mexico, reported May 17, 2012 - multiple arrests, including the town mayor, on voting fraud charges ..." There were two arrests, the vote was close, and charges included extortion.  It is possible that this election was won because of fraud, but two is not wide spread fraud.  Two is two.
** "How about Troy, N.Y., on Dec. 21, 2011? Four men - all town officials or Democratic Party operatives - were convicted of voting fraud charges."  Population over 850,000 and 4 arrested.
* I even heard someone use the fact that people who were added to the voter rolls when they got the drivers license and took themselves off the rolls somehow proves that these people were voting.
The reason they don't use real statistics is that even when an investigation is done they can't find the fraud.  It isn't there.  President Bush tried.  120 were charged and 86 convicted.  The US population is 313,894,000 so 0.00003% of the population was convicted.

Enough legal voters may have already been purged from the rolls, or will be unable to vote due to restrictive laws to swing the vote.  In Pennsylvania 25% of blacks have no photo ID.  As much as 10% of the population of the state might be disenfranchised by the voter ID law.  These are real provable numbers.  The election may already have been stolen.

I am proud that I, and many others put aside personal gain to try and improve our nation.  No one can take that pride away.  But, I literally cry when I think about how much of what we did has been undone over the years.  I grieve for the lives lost in war.  I grieve for our young men and women who will live their lives with the visions of death in the brains.  I grieve for the martyrs who died to bring the vote to everyone.  I grieve for those who will lose their vote for no good reason.  I grieve for the life of democracy slipping away in front of our eyes.

I am 62 years old.  I don't know how long I have to live; almost certainly somewhere between 62 seconds and 62 years.  Will I spend the rest of my life proud of what I have done, but grieving for what we are losing?  I'm not doing enough to prevent this, but I am doing something.  For me, for you, for your descendants, and for our nation I ask you to do something.  Individually it might not be enough, but our collective effort just might be enough. 

And to the parents: Please teach your kids that democracy requires participation both in the voting booth and in the streets.  Please teach your kids that their freedom is in part because people were willing to break the law, to be violently attacked, and to put their lives on the line in non-violent action.  Please remember that if your child is old enough to understand what they are doing, they are old enough to make a difference. But please, if the situation could get them hurt or killed, make sure they fully understand that before you let them go.