Curtain Raiser

Make Sure You Show Up, Colltalers

For all the talk about money being a sign of success, and the power of billionaires taking over our democracy, there’s a single act, at the end of the presidential race, that may prove them all wrong: showing up on Election Day.
Since voting is a voluntary exercise, many of our recent presidents have been elected by a majority but of a diminish percentage of the U.S. population. In other words, since no one’s paid to vote, many are simply not interested. The difference this time around is that there’re some who’re willing to pay many not to vote. Or at least, penalize them if they try to do it.
It’s no small measure of pragmatism and clever calculation that one side of the political spectrum in this country has decided to focus on this often overlooked ‘detail’ of our electoral process: the actual vote.
And it shows their great deal of attention to voting demographics, as a whole array of measures have been deployed to prevent those who’d potentially tilt the balance towards the Democrats from exercising their constitutional right.
What’s startling is that nobody would know it one way or another, by just following both parties’ rhetoric about the election. While the GOP insists it’s all about legality and rights, the Democratic Party is, well, pretty much missing in action.
Instead, it’s the underfunded so-called grassroots movements that are the ones leading the counter attack on voter suppression.
Which brings back us back to our initial premise that more than anytime in history, it has become acceptable for anyone to qualify success strictly as a measure of wealth accumulation, regardless of what kind of social responsibility that implies.
Thus, from a nation that used to perceive itself as caring and empathetic, we’ve becoming a land where you’re only in business if you own one; you’re only heard if you’re either a lobbyist or a fund raiser; and you’re only as clever as the tax-free holdings you control.
As the race is about to hit the homestretch, if you’re jockeying to include in it other issues relevant to the rest of the world, you may be betting on the wrong horses. Even our own troops fighting in Afghanistan have gotten less than a fair shake in this campaign.
There will always be those to whom an election is not won in a single day, single issue, single man (or woman, but that would be pushing at least for now).
They’d be correct, of course, and so would those who see our political system as broken because there are just two parties, and they both share the same pool of wealth and ideas.
Then again, we wonder where everybody was in the intervening years, for it seems that such issues, however important, are only brought up when it’s time to assert the most crucial of all differences: how many will vote on that particular day in November.
As it stands, it’s been a depressing time in America, when many an idealist view of democracy has been slaughtered by a political pragmatism so overriding to make us all wonder whether we even count. Don’t get fooled by the appearances though.
We do count and still can make a difference, or there wouldn’t be a point in even bothering writing this now or ever. Even if money and all other phony and violent religious issues will dominate media coverage between now and then.
It was 150 years today that the Civil War’s Battle of the Antietam took place in Sharpsburg, Maryland, killing or wounding 23,000 Americans, in what is considered ‘the bloodiest single day in American history.’
Perhaps the stakes now are not so explicitly high, but they’re certainly equally crucial to our future. The remnants of our embattled democracy owe a lot to what happened then in the fields of America.
It may be the most appropriate way for us to honor and pay respects to the memory of those sacrificed then to show up to vote and guarantee that at least part of the political process still remains in the hands of ordinary Americans. Have a great one. WC



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