“Fathom the hypocrisy of a government that requires every citizen to prove that they are insured – but not everyone must prove that they are a citizen. So an illegal immigrant actually has more freedom than an American citizen because they are not forced to purchase healthcare.”
– Dr. Barbara Bellar (From a speech discussing the implications of the Affordable Care Act – a/k/a Obamacare).
Some of my acquaintances think that requiring a picture State ID or Driver’s License in order to vote presents an inordinate and cumbersome burden on some eligible members of our community. They view this merely as a disguised attempt at preventing these people from voting (an updated version of the poll tax which was banned through the adoption of the 24th Amendment to the Constitution in 1964).
I find this attitude pitiable as I reflect on my own immigrant grandmother whose formal education ended when she was nine years old; who taught herself a foreign language (English); who became a citizen as soon as she was eligible to do so; and who viewed one of her most fundamental rights and obligations as participating in her adopted country’s electoral process by never failing to vote in every election.
Grandma had an interesting (and I think informed) way of deciding who deserved her support. If there were a “Common Sense Party” she would certainly have registered as a member. In its absence, she never affiliated with either of the two major parties but gleaned as much information about each candidate for each office and voted for the ones she viewed as offering the most practical solutions without respect to party label. All this from a woman with only a third grade formal education.
Back in the days when grandma voted (and during most of the elections in my own lifetime) Election Day was THE day when you cast your ballot. There was no such thing as “Early Voting”. If it happened that it was a bleak and raw November day when she and I voted for our country’s representatives and President; if the lines at the polling place were long and people had to stand outside in the cold and snow while waiting their turn to vote, stomping their feet to keep the blood circulating, that’s what you did in order to express your opinion.
Sure, there may have been some grousing and banter among the voters, “Why is this taking so long?,” and “Don’t they train the election judges on how to do their jobs?,” but we endured this. And the people who had to wait an hour in line to cast their vote could look back on the inconvenience of their wait with pride as a small statement about how they had fulfilled their civic duty.
By comparison, the election process has become far easier. And in a sense, that is unfortunate because that translates to trivializing the meaning of what it means to be a citizen and what it means to participate in the process. Perhaps the statement that we hear regarding doing reps at the gym applies here, “No pain, no gain”.
And yet, even with the simplification of the electoral process, even with all we have done to make it totally painless to vote, according to the estimates, less than six out of ten of us will bother to participate on November 6th. The word “shocking” comes to mind, but I believe it doesn’t go far enough to describe the apathy of forty percent of us Americans.
I can say with absolute certainty that if my grandmother, who never learned to drive a car, needed to get a picture ID from New York State she would have saved the money to purchase one, even if it cost $100. There are two reasons for this. She had a strong belief that a person had to take pride in her actions – and she accepted accountability for herself.
At this point you may wonder why I began this post with a quotation about Obamacare. The reason is really quite simple. Under the provisions of the Act, beginning in 2014, each citizen will need to prove that he or she has purchased health insurance – or be subject to a tax in the amount of $695 enforced by the IRS.
Thinking about this logically, if a person, needing it, cannot make the effort to line up transportation to get a State ID; if they cannot afford the nominal fee for obtaining one that most states charge; do you really think that they are going to buy a health insurance plan which is going to cost them several thousand dollars a year? Or, for that matter, failing that and being in violation of the law, they will have the money to pay the tax which Obamacare imposes?
If you truly believe that, I hope you’re enjoying your stay in Never Never Land.