ID protest and a mad Republican
by Bruce Rodgers
On the April 8 PBS Moyers & Co. show host Bill Moyers made the comment that many had “lost faith in the ballot.” Moyers was talking with author and former British diplomat Carne Ross. They were discussing the Occupy movement and Ross’ involvement in it. Ross is exploring creating a new banking system with an Occupy working group, borrowing much from credit unions and community banks.
Moyers pointed out that the movement contained many “ordinary citizens.” Ross concurred and outlined a common bond associated with many Occupy supporters.
They share, Ross said, “A fundamental disillusionment with the nature of government, whether autocratic or democratic, that it is not working, not solving problems that are fundamental.” Those fundamentals that need solving, he said, deal with “economic equality, environmental protection and economic volatility.”
This 46-year-old, who resigned his diplomatic position rather than spread the lies and distortions that led to the Iraq War and recently published The Leaderless Revolution: How Ordinary People Will Take Power and Change Politics in the 21st Century, (notice the use of the word “will” instead of “can”) was articulating what many believe. Later in the interview, he expounded on the premise in the calm, precise manner notable of the British.
Said Ross, “It’s implausible to expect good to come from Washington … the government is fundamentally detached from the reality it tries to manage.”
The same can be said of the government of the state where I live, Kansas, and increasingly so in Missouri. Under the rule of radical-right Republicans, there is no real interest in governing for the good of the people or community, but there is this mighty attempt to manage.
With budget cutting, the Republicans in both states want to “manage” who can afford to get an education; to manage poverty, they cut social service programs; with “Stand Your Ground” laws on one hand and attacks on women, contraception and the right to choose on the other, they want to manage freedom. To manage how much power goes to the people, they pass Voter ID laws and other voter suppression legislation.
Over all this management — casting a gold-tinted shadow like some Inca idol atop a slave-built pyramid — is the addictive, hallucinatory belief that “The Market” will free the individual from the tyranny of government management, coupled with a siren call to the jobless and under-employed that they are budding “entrepreneurs” — the American dream within their grasp no matter how ill educated, sick or poor they may be.
Considering the Republican Party is afflicted with this madness and considering they control the Kansas government and have found their attendant in Missouri with Gov. Jay Nixon, why vote?
“Politicians will not provide the answer,” Carne Ross said in the Moyers’ interview, “no matter how well meaning they might be.”
The Moyers’ interview with Ross came after I voted on April 3 in the Prairie Village, KS city election. Though I voted for a candidate I thought might make a less-harmful public official, I also voted for the opportunity to protest during the process of voting. With success in exercising my First Amendment right, I now view voting in Kansas as a way of protesting.
My intent — which I followed through on — was to loudly protest to the election judges my objection to showing an ID to vote.
Upon entering the polling place, I was told by a woman to show my ID at another table. I arrived and announced, much to the surprise of the elderly gentleman manning the sign-in voter books, “I strenuously protest the fact that I have to show an ID to vote.”
As soon as I said that, a woman behind me let out a loud laugh. I turned to her and said, “This is a serious matter. I protest having to show an ID.”
A scowl came over her face. To me she was just another mad — figuratively and literally — Republican (though I didn’t call her that).
As I signed my name to vote — the elderly gentleman barely looking at my ID — another woman said, pointing to the table near the entrance to the polling place, “You can tell the election office your complaint.”
“A form to fill out?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said, pointing again to the other table.
“Here’s a form,” said the woman at that table. “Just fill it out and send it in.”
Meanwhile, the mad Republican woman said nothing though she was watching my every move.
I filled out the comment card, writing: “I strenuously object to having to show my ID to vote. The Kansas law is nothing more than voter suppression legislation that will depress an already low voter turnout. Election Commissioner Brian Newby and staff ought to be ashamed for supporting and enforcing it.
“I encourage you to read your own Mission statement, which states: ‘Serving the public by administering the election process and promoting voter participation.’”
I asked for a reply by email.
I’ve decided not to quit voting. If I cannot support any candidate on the ballot I will write in a name. But primarily I’m going to vote so I can repeatedly protest the fact that I have to show an ID to vote.
I may eventually register as a Republican (changing from a registered Independent) and become a registered Republican protesting the voter ID law.
Now there’s something to ponder, a Republican protesting a Republican-sponsored law.
Now there’s sanity to that.
Bruce Rodgers can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.