When I was a student in grammar and high school (you know, back when Keith Richards was teaching the toddler, Willie Nelson, how to play the guitar), the underlying principles upon which the Constitutional United States was founded (after the big blunder of the ineffective Articles of Confederation) were high-minded and democratic. Soft peddled was the reality that, even though our form of government was a representative rather than direct democracy, and while the Declaration of Independence proclaimed that all are created equal, the Constitution (1) reserved voting rights for white, propertied men, excluding women, non-whites and non-propertied; and for apportioning legislative power, (2) the voting weight of 10 slaves was the equivalent of that of only six of those white, privileged males, and (3) the idea that if you were willing to pay the price, it was OK for you to buy and own human beings whose labor would increase your personal wealth. These facts may not be as self-evident as the high-minded “all are created equal,” but they are historical facts nonetheless.
The idea that elections should be awarded to the winner on a one-person, one-vote basis was not a universal part of our heritage, as even today we remain burdened by anachronisms like the Electoral College which, in my lifetime has given us not one, but two underachieving presidents who failed to gather a popular vote majority. It has also burdened us with the imprudence of two Senators for each state, regardless of a state’s population, so that a majority of voters is subject to the predilections of senators who represent a sizable minority of people voting.
These institutional failings have given us decades of rule by what is effectively a popular vote minority. If you count yourself among that ruling minority, I imagine you like things that way. Whether we like it or not, we have been conned by big money which likes the idea that with wealth comes the ability to pull political strings and see to it that government be used to facilitate the accumulation of wealth for the wealthy, not for honoring democratic ideals which preserve opportunity for all.
Add to the mix demographics which slowly but surely are changing the nation from majority white to majority non-white, making the popular vote minorities holding power even more nervous about their future relevance. Unfortunately, we are left with a nation in which the popular-vote minority power holders see their hold on power slipping away, clinging to personal self-interest and using the power they have to obstruct the voting rights of those who, for cause, will likely not vote for them prospectively.
What is harder to stomach is how fashionable it now is, thanks to Donald Trump, to peddle lies as truth: Republicans in Texas, Georgia and even Pennsylvania mobilize on the crusade for “voting integrity,” in the absence of a problem, because their lying, discredited hero claims he didn’t lose by 7 million votes. Recognizing some of the skeletons in our national closet, like the impact of slavery and ripping off native Americans is somehow unpatriotic, as if teaching facts is somehow a bad thing. Our congressional representative gets column space in the newspaper to claim that he for one is only doing his duty to find the source of the virus causing COVID 19, as if the 600,000+ victims will benefit from that knowledge, while he signed off on a Supreme Court brief intending to set aside the votes of his constituents which returned him to office, and voted against a bipartisan commission to investigate the violent Jan. 6 insurrection.
You are entitled to your own opinions, but you are not entitled to your own facts. Remember who kept the “trickle” in trickle-down. For those who think that Republicans favor democracy, they don’t, and haven’t for a while. If you do, let your opinion be known, and vote accordingly.
Joe DeCristopher lives in Lewisburg.