Taking Our Rights for Granted

No country on Earth has as much freedom as the United States of America. Yet no country seems to have as much apathy for a right that other nations cherish and hold dear. One of those rights is the right to vote. Granted, it took over a century for tradition to change and full suffrage to be enacted for half the population. But today any adult U.S. citizen not convicted of a felony has the right to vote. Some would even argue that we have a responsibility to vote.

bill-of-rightsPart of the problem in America is the feeling many have that we will never lose our rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution. But rights are rarely taken away in one fell swoop. Consider the old metaphor of the frog in boiling water. While not literally true, it demonstrates how we will react instantly to a drastic attempt to take away one of our freedoms, but if that same freedom is gradually undermined over many years, the majority of the population will be oblivious to it happening until we wake up one day to find that freedom is gone entirely.

Blatant violations of our free-speech, like campus speech codes, are challenged instantly, and ruled by the courts to be unconstitutional. But there has been an incessant demonization over the years of certain issues to the point that speaking out on some of those hot-button issues will get you accused of hate-speech. Once that view has been pushed on the public long enough for indoctrination to take hold, activist groups begin to petition the government to make the voicing of those now politically incorrect ideas illegal. Gradually, free speech is eroded and most don’t notice.

Another factor is the tactics employed by the Democratic and Republican parties to protect a majority of seats in the House of Representatives through the use of gerrymandering. This involves drawing up congressional districts along observed historic voting patterns. These districts snake their way across each state to include communities with a high percentage of one political view or the other. The result being that fewer and fewer incumbents are challenged and remain in office for decades. Voters recognize this and figure that their vote does not matter.

In states like Illinois, many voters outside the major urban areas feel their votes don’t matter because Chicago always votes for the Democratic party. Although, with the utter imcompetence that our state government has demonstrated that tide may begin to turn.

The moral of this story is if Americans don’t bother to educate themselves about the issues and then use that knowledge to vote, why should we listen when they complain about the outcome. Pay attention, America! Learn about the issues, speak out, and VOTE … or you may one day wake up to a country where your rights have been so marginalized that they effectively don’t exist.

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