Partisanship is Destroying Voter Rights

When the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution of the United States they outlined that they wanted to “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”. A touching message to be sure. To accompany this “perfect Union” many of the Founding Fathers wanted nothing to do with the idea of partisanship. With the state of politics in today’s society, many can certainly understand why.

Partisanship is fundamentally toxic. The creation of the two-party system established opposing camps within a supposedly unified country. Of course many on both sides rally to hollers of “Patriotism” and “Democracy”, but their agreement practically ends there. While many would disagree with this, the objective of each party is to defeat the other. Each side wants to have more of its members in power in order to increase the odds of enacting real change for their agenda without having to face opposition. This mentality is best seen in the phrase “vote blue no matter who” where many Democrats subscribe to the notion that “no matter” the Democrat being put forward to represent the party, they would be better than any other candidate. This ideology completely ignores any policy points that the proposed nominee could have in favor of a completely thoughtless loyalty.

Democrats vs. Republicans | Photo Courtesy of Berkeley Political Review

 The two-party system resembles a never-ending tug of war, with both the left and the right constantly tugging to make the other side let go. With Democrats appearing to be moving further to the left, Republicans also appear to be moving further to the right, helping to grow the distance between the two groups creating a chasm with the word “bipartisanship” situated at the very bottom of this abyss. 

Of course, this conversation includes the so-called moderates, the hypocrites in the middle who tout bipartisanship. However, they really want the same thing as everyone else on their side of the aisle, to defeat the other side. They are shallow fools who believe their message is easier to swallow, but really just lack the courage to stand up for their beliefs. In reality even America’s so-called “progressives” are considerably less radical and revolutionary than their overseas equivalent. Policies such as universal healthcare were revolutionary to many European states decades ago, and yet, within the United States they are a policy still considered radical.

However, amongst all the hypocrisy, lunacy, and slow progression that helps make up American politics, there are certain issues that shouldn’t be subjected to divisive politicization,  but should be treated as fundamentally protected rights. Enfranchisement is one of them. 

While at this point in American history, all people have a right to vote, it is still disproportionately difficult for certain communities to enact that right. Primarily, these communities are those of color or of low-income status (although these two typically intertwine). In the 2016 presidential elections, African American voter turnout was about 59.6% of its total populace of eligible voters and Latino turnout was about 47.6%, according to the US Census Bureau. While some of these percentages can be attributed to people abstaining from their right to vote, it is extremely unlikely that this many people would choose to abstain. The reality is that many simply do not have access to these facilities and therefore are unable to exercise their rights. Yet, despite all this, meaningful government policy helping to ensure greater voter turnout has not been enacted, simply because enfranchisement has become a partisan issue

In 2020, the need for enfranchisement policy is all the more imperative. The effects of the coronavirus pandemic have already shown negative results for the primaries, and with the possibility of a COVID-20 resurgence in the fall/spring season, it is imperative now more than ever that adequate enfranchisement policy is enacted. This does not simply mean absentee ballots either. 

According to The Columbus Dispatch, about 1.76 million Ohio voters have asked for an absentee ballot out of a registered 7.77 million. That’s about 22% of voters for a primary that is almost exclusively mail-in due to the  pandemic. Governments are asking people to choose between their health and their right to vote rather than supplying the necessary equipment to allow them both.

President Donald Trump | Photo Courtesy of the LA Times

Despite the very apparent need for reform, the policies will likely not come under this presidency. President Trump has recently tweeted on the subject of guaranteeing absentee voting saying “[…] no Republican is ever to be elected again!” 

If the Republican leaders believe that allowing an increased number of people to vote will kill their chances of winning elections then their party should cease to exist. The U.S touts its status as a world leader, so it is time to prove it by passing legislation that protects voters.

Written by Colin O'Malley

Colin O'Malley is a senior at Mt. Carmel and in charge of the Entertainment section of The Sun.

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