It used to be when I heard people saying things like “I’m not going to vote, I don’t like anyone running,” or “I never vote,” I responded by saying “Pooh on you.” Okay, there might have actually been stronger words involved, but we’ll leave it at that. Yes, I’ve always thought every American should exercise his or her right to vote.
I think the reason I feel so strongly about voting is because when I was 18 I couldn’t vote, but I could be drafted in the U.S. Army. Yes, the government at that time felt I was mature enough to handle an automatic weapon and kill people, but not mature enough to select the men who would make the decisions about who to kill. That silly government.
Of course, as I’ve related in previous columns I was able to hold off the government’s assault on my freedom until August of 1972 when it finally got its hands on me and attempted to turn me into a threat to yellow people everywhere. Luckily, by that time, the U.S. was beginning to realize that Vietnam was a lost cause, if it ever was a cause, and was preparing to get the hell out.
Just over a year earlier, the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution had been adopted. The amendment prohibited states and the federal government from setting a voting age higher than 18. It was adopted in response to the student activism against the Vietnam War. You’re welcome.
So when I walked into the orderly room at Fort Jackson to cast my first-ever ballot for president, at the age of 22 mind you, I loudly and proudly proclaimed I was voting for George McGovern. Obviously, I knew I had the right to keep my vote private, but I didn’t have the ability. I wanted any war mongers present to know where I stood. I can be like that, you know.
So year after year, I make sure to vote in any election, even if everybody is running unopposed. So why do I bring this up now? Well, it’s because voting from now on might not mean as much as it did before, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has apparently adopted a mantra of “The Wealthy Know Best.”
The court’s most recent decision doesn’t have anything to do with the voting age. In this case, it’s all about the Benjamins, or the money in layman’s terms. Yes, thanks to a recent decision by the high court of the land, corporations and the wealthiest people in this country can buy all the politicians they can afford. And the wealthiest 1 percent and corporations can buy a whole mess of politicians, which are just too expensive for the average man. I know, I once tried to buy one. Heck, even with a 30-year financing plan, he was out of my league.
In a vote that has become all too familiar, the court voted 5-4 in favor of the wealthy. Now, I don’t want to point fingers, but the five justices - Samuel A. Alito, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy – who voted for the wealthy were appointed by Republican presidents, while the four - Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen G. Breyer and Elena Kagan – who sided with average Americans, were appointed by Democratic presidents. Just something to think about.
The court ruled that the restriction of direct campaign donations is unconstitutional. Prior to this decision, a person was limited to $123,200 (total) every two years in campaign contributions, with a contribution of no more than $2,600 to any one candidate. The $2,600 limit is still in place, but now a person can donate to as many candidates as he or she can afford. For example, one person could donate to a candidate in every state election in the United States as well as the presidential election. Now, who can afford that? The wealthy, of course. Throw in the massive amounts of money corporations can throw at campaigns and political activities, which have resulted in super-PACs and attack ads galore, and our country is a mess.
Now, John Boehner called the court ruling a victory for “free speech,” but the King of Orange knows it is really just another victory for the wealthiest of Americans. They not only have all the money, but now have more power to influence elections than ever before. One man, one vote is a nice saying, but in today’s world money is king when it comes to elections.