In trying to understand why some civilizations flourish and why others have a very limited life, anthropologists have noted that those cultures in which parents in general and fathers in particular feel somehow threatened by the success of their own children, are destined to have a finite existence. Those cultures that celebrate and encourage their children to be wiser and more accomplished than the previous generation, inevitably flourish for centuries.
Yesterday’s (12/27/11) New York Times editorial took note of Republican efforts to restrict the voting rights of demographic groups that tend to vote for the Democratic Party: Blacks, Hispanics, the poor and the young. In a number of states in which the GOP controls one or both legislative houses, laws are pending or has already been passed that would require voters to present valid state issued ID cards to vote.
Of course Republicans aren’t so stupid as to acknowledge the intended purpose of such efforts. Voter ID legislation is being promoted under the pretense of limiting voter fraud. Noteworthy fact: no state in which such bills are pending or have been passed, have reported any significant problems with voter fraud.
The NY Times editorial points out that over 21 million Americans who are eligible to vote, do not have such valid state ID cards. Many college students in particular lack such ID cards. Out of state students will either miss the opportunity to participate in the democratic process or will have to take one or more days off from school to return home communities to vote. Even if a student is from the state in which he/she is attending school, not having a valid driver’s license or state issued ID will make their participation in the election, an impossibility.
The Times editorial notes:
William O’Brien, the speaker of the New Hampshire State House, told a Tea Party group earlier this year that students are “foolish” and tend to “vote their feelings” because they lack life experience. “Voting as a liberal,” he said, “that’s what kids do.” And that’s why, he said, he supported measures to prohibit students from voting from their college addresses and to end same-day registration. New Hampshire Republicans even tried to pass a bill that would have kept students who previously lived elsewhere from voting in the state; fortunately, the measure failed, as did the others Mr. O’Brien favored.
Many rational, reasonable, thinking Americans would be proud to know that their children want to participate in the democratic process, regardless of their political leanings. It’s a sad commentary on the emotional maturity and intellectual capacity of Republicans who are more concerned about achieving victory at the ballot box than in encouraging and empowering the next generation of Americans to take full advantage of their rights and responsibilities as citizens of a democracy that many of us hope will flourish and be around for many generations to come.