Jon Alexander / Saturday, March 21 @ 7:41 a.m. / Angels and Desperados
ANGELS and DESPERADOS: Hollywood and Broadway’re On Hold or … Bye Bye Bernie
I looked at the recent Democratic Primary elections, and then I looked at contests four years ago, in which Bernie Sanders enjoyed a substantial percentage of what’s been called the “youth vote.” Ironically, one of the reasons why he has all but lost his bid to be his Party’s standard bearer against President Trump in November, has been the recent abandonment of that constituency, a fact that cannot be based upon the coronavirus and Covid-19. To the contrary, at the least, such an impediment would be thought to intimidate a greater majority of older voters. And, with all due respect, this is the group of potential voters which, more than any other, Spring Break partying notwithstanding, has shown the greatest fearlessness (or naivete) regarding the pandemic monster which has descended upon us.
And so, absent any resort to polemics and with no intent to resuscitate the DOA Sanders campaign, a brief history on this cherished franchise appears to be in order.
Contrary to great popular opinion, the United States Constitution did not originally define who was eligible to vote, but rather placed broad prohibitions on who could enjoy the franchise. At that time, most states only allowed white male adult property owner to vote.
Ironically, if not tragically, the history of voting "rights" in America is fraught with effort to restrict the franchise
Since the Reconstruction Era until the culmination of the Civil Rights Movement, Jim Crow laws such as literacy tests, poll taxes and religious tests were just some of the state and local laws used to deny immigrants, non-white citizens, Native Americans and other "undesirable" groups from voting.
In several North American colonies, before and after the Declaration of Independence, Jews, Quakers and Catholics were excluded from voting or even running for office.
With the cumulative effects of poll taxes, literacy tests and increased residency tests, by 1941, more whites than blacks had been in total disenfranchisement.
As late as 1962, programs such as Operation Eagle Eye in Arizona attempted to stop minority voting through literacy tests. The 24th Amedmenmt was ratified to prohibit poll taxes as a condition of voter registration..
The American Civil Rights Movement, through such events as Freedom Summer in Mississipi and the Selma to Montgomery marches gained passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
A parallel, yet separate movement was that for woman’s suffrage, with leaders such as Susan B. Anthony. Parallels have been drawn to the American Civil War, given womens’ strong leadership in the abolition movement.
From African Americans to women, Native Americans to immigrants to the homeless to the poor to religious entities, almost every segment of America has been the victim of attempts at voter disenfranchisement. The battle for “one man-one vote” continues on today.
If you weigh the decision to vote today, you should remember all of those who suffered the lash, lynchings, homicide and every concept of chicanery to deprive every segment of America of this right that makes us the greatest democracy in the world.
And never, ever forget, you DO make a difference-just by showing up.
A final footnote, notwithstanding recent podium disagreements between President Trump and national medical spokesperson on the pandemic, Dr. Anthouny Fauci, on the FDA’s alleged approval of potential Covid19 vaccines, it has been heartening to witness the coming together and outright bipartisanship of Democrats and Republicans in these times of trouble.
One such instance recently occurred when Sen. Richard Burr(GOP-N.C.), Chairman of the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee, gave a speech to the Tar Heel Circle group on February 27, stating that the virus was going to spread rapidly, “perhaps on the scale of the deadly Spanish Flu of 1918.”
Notwithstanding Sen. Burr’s duty of disclosure to the people of North Carolina, outside of this small private luncheon where membership ranges up to $10,000.00, not a word was spoken, until two things happened-(1)a tape of the luncheon remarks was obtained by NPR, demonstrating his knowledge of the danger of the coming pandemic and, (2) the discovery and report by ProPublica that just two weeks earlier, Burr and his wife, Brooke, sold off 1.7 million in publicly traded hotel stocks without buying any new positions. Weeks later, after his luncheon warning to that small group of political supporters, the stock market crashed with value in hotel stock, which the Burr’s had divested, plummeting.
Both Democrats in the House and two nights ago, Fox News Tucker Carlson, have all asked for Burr’s resignation, an investigation into his purported insider trading and prosecution if such violations are found to be true.
Hope doth spring eternal.
Jon Alexander lives in Crescent City and can be reached at email@example.com.