Sunday, November 4, 2012

Tazi's Corner #17 - The Importance Of Your Vote

Dear Readers:

I was going to use this space this week to talk about all the Halloween loot I dragged home this week, but having to watch political ads ad nauseum  crushed my creative muse.  While searching for it, I came across an old essay by my Mommie, and decided that it needed an audience.  Since nobody reads her blog (seriously, it has something like 700 hits over three years) I have decided once again to give her this space.  Sheesh, two weeks in a row!  I am telling you, we cats do nothing but give!

Without further ado, I present to you Mommie's essay on why she votes.


Why I Believe in the Importance of the Vote
by Guest Writer Tazi's Mommie

My Aunt's late mother, "Claire", was born in the early 1900's - before women were extended voting privileges. I remember how Claire once shared a memory with me, of how she went into the voting booth with her mother during the first (national) election in which women were allowed to vote. It was a powerful image, indeed, especially since she was around 90 years old when she shared it with me. For 85+ years that memory lived in her must have been important to her.

As a Women's Studies major, I have studied the history of women's suffrage in America; from its earliest roots at Seneca Falls, to the racism of Alice Paul that split the fight into a black and white issue, to the protest down Pennsylvania Avenue. The images of women being beaten, jailed, and even killed as they fought for suffrage is brought to life for me as Claire's memory echoes in my mind. How many of us now take our voting privileges for granted? That's correct, I said "privilege", not "right". How many are foolish enough to refer to suffrage as the "right" to vote? Voting is not a right - rights are something extended to all, without restriction. Think about that, and consider yourself lucky if you are one of the millions in the world who do have that privilege.

Throughout U.S. history more people have been denied the vote than have been granted it. When our country was founded, only white, property-owning men were allowed to vote. The standards were eventually relaxed to allow all white men to vote; but it took a Civil War, a Constitutional amendment, and countless lives lost to secure the vote for minority citizens. Excuse me, black male citizens. The 15th amendment did not extend the vote to black women, or to Native Americans (who were not considered to be citizens, in spite of the 15th amendment's wording). It took a second Constitutional amendment and even more lives lost to secure suffrage for women; and it took the Civil Rights Era and yet more lives lost to guarantee that those who were extended voting privileges could actually exercise them. Now, we have voter ID laws cropping up around the nation, including in my home state of Rhode Island. Is this an attempt to secure our polls or, as many claim, an attempt to revive Jim Crow? Is this a law that the average American wants to see enforced?

Copyright Garry Trudeau.  All Rights Reserved.
I realize that many people will not vote because they do not like the choices they have.  Do you choose the rock or the hard place?  Do you make a joke of your vote by writing in "Tazi-Kat" for President?  Before you do either (although I am sure my cat would appreciate the publicity) remember that many in the world do not have the opportunity to freely elect their political leaders. Oh, sure, elections are held! In fact, before Operation Iraqi Freedom, Sadaam Hussain had been getting elected President by a unanimous vote for decades. If you can't smell bullsh-- coming from those election results, I've got a bridge I would love to sell you!  

Before you refuse to vote on the grounds that it is just too arduous, stop and think about what is going on in Egypt, Tunisia, and Syria right now.  It is called the Arab Spring and young people are fighting and dying for proper representation in their government, governments that are openly abusive of their own people; governments that are openly corrupt; governments that don't listen to the needs of the masses, but only to the voices of those who have money (sounds a bit like what is starting to happen in America, huh?).  The suffering of these brave young people makes the few hours you have to wait at the polls suddenly seem like a much less strenuous ordeal.  If you are handicapped or disabled, let the poll workers know - they will accommodate you.  No eligible voter should feel as if they cannot due to age or debilitation.  

Her crime?  Protesting her government leaders.  
She was beaten near to death.

Perhaps the most important reason to vote is this: If the average American does not make their voice heard, the only voices being heard will be those of the extreme - from the Tea Party (Michele Bachmann and Rand Paul) to Socialists (Bernard Sanders and, some would say, Al Franken).  From what I read in the blogs; letters to the editor; and other places where opinions are expressed, this is not what most Americans want.  Please do your part to keep it from happening - vote this Tuesday, November 6th.  Polls are open from 7 AM to at least 8PM, so regardless of what shift you work, the polls will be open before you go in or after you get out.

This week, as I mark my ballot, I will think about Claire...and smile because I know she would be happy that I voted!

A prosperous Election day to All!

--Tazi's Mommie

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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