Reading at the Crossroads

Reading at the Crossroads is an archive for columns and letters which appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star. I also blog here when my patience is exhausted by what I feel is irritating, irrational and/or ironic in life. --gary daily

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Location: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States

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Sunday, July 05, 2015

Stand up for democracy, don’t fear it

[My latest hopeful pebble in the pond.  Naive or unrealistic, I still feel a registered and voting public would take this country a long way in the right direction.  This appeared in the “Terre Haute Tribune Star," July 5,2015.]

Stand up for democracy, don’t fear it    

Believe in polls and statistics? Try these on for size and comfort: Legal scholar and behavioral economist at Harvard, Cass Sunstein, reports: Over 62 percent of Democrats favor a system of automatic voter registration. This is a system recently adopted in Oregon and supported by Hillary Rodham Clinton. More than 61 percent of Republicans reject it. Independents are evenly divided.

Now, to the consternation and the embarrassment of those who fear democracy, Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee for President of the United States in 2016, strides forward with a limited but important proposal on automatic voter registration across the nation. Clinton is calling for registering every American citizen at 18. In 2014 that would have amounted to 4,225,590 potential voters. It’s a start.

If you’re going to attack this step toward democracy, answer me this: Leaving aside any personal feelings you may have about Hillary, Bill, Chelsea, Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky and your feelings about 18 year olds, would you support an automatic voter registration system, fairly and honestly administered, that enrolls all citizens who meet voting eligibility laws?

Think about it. ... Times up. Now you know if you believe in or fear democracy.

There have been no surprises in the reactions to Clinton’s straightforward, modest, state-tested proposal.

Because she’s the most fun, let’s start with Ann Coulter on 18 year olds. Listen up recent high school grads. Not only does Coulter oppose automatic registration of America’s young adults, she has called for the repeal of the 26th amendment, the amendment extending the right to vote to 18-year-olds. “Today’s youth,” she states, “are the infantilized, pampered, bicycle-helmeted children of the Worst Generation.”

But more troubling than “Worst Generation” remarks from deep, deep right field, is the united front Republicans and conservative media take on Clinton’s proposal. From the egotistical towers of Trump to the swamps of the “Jeb!” campaign, Republican opposition to ensuring the registration of all 18-year-old citizens of the United States demonstrates how fearful they are of putting democracy into practice.

I can’t find an argument in support of Clinton’s partial step toward democracy coming from any of the gaggle of Republican candidates for president. And yet none are forthrightly announcing, “I’m against 18-year-olds becoming registered voters because I fear democracy.” Why is this?

I say, Republicans, stand up for what you fear — democracy. Put those bicycle helmets on straight. Read the directives from your billionaire, plutocrat sponsors. Save your vague, your misleading, your off-the-subject, your run around rhetoric for issues like climate change, income inequality, skyrocketing military costs, and ridding the nation of Social Security, Medicare and Obamacare. Shoot from your gun-manufacture lobby hip. Your base is starving for straight talk on the evils of democracy.

— Gary Daily, Terre Haute

for TH Trib Star letter, go to p. 2 of letters,  HERE