To I.D. or not to I.D.?

When the topic of disenfranchising American citizens comes up, it is no doubt very serious. In the last couple years, some politicians of the GOP have enacted voter ID laws, and Republicans have generally accepted this notion, despite evidence that there is little to no voting fraud.

Democrats have come out against voter ID laws, calling them discriminatory.

Should we ID?

Yes. Even though documented cases of voter fraud are minimal, voter ID should be required at the polls. In order to execute the vast majority state and federal rights, you must show proof of identification; why would voting, an exclusive right to law-abiding American citizens over the age of 18, be an exception?

Is voter ID discriminatory?

Is voter registration discriminatory? No one seems to have any quips with the current registration process, so why would they be against voter ID?

One argument I have heard for this is: It’s a choice not to register to vote. Isn’t it a choice not to have a state-issued ID, too, provided measures are in place that allow for equal opportunity?

Another argument is the obstacles for poor voters: If the issue is resources, can’t the same be said for voter registration? In order to register to vote, you must have a legal address, a driver’s license number (which is a state-issued photo ID) or a social security number. You must also have access to a computer,  have the ability to show up in-person at your state’s Secretary of State office, or be qualified under the disabilities provisions or a member of the armed services to receive your registration form by other means.

Elderly: Some have pointed out that some elderly do not have access to or even have their social security numbers, and/or do not have their birth certificates to get one. Bottom line is: if you are going to exercise your right to vote, you need to be able to verify your citizenship in some way, just like you need to do for anything else. However, all efforts should be made on the part of the local government to assist the elderly in retrieving this information, so the can advantage of all benefits of citizenship.

Cost: State issued photo IDs cost money. In the case where cost is an issue, photo IDs should be provided at no cost to those who can prove hardship.

Lost ID: I am not going to come up with suggestions, but measures should be put in place, in circumstances of lost ID. No one should lose their right to vote because they misplaced or had stolen, their identification.

Transition

Some voter ID measures have been passed and implemented too quickly for registered voters to have time to comply with the new law. If voter ID is going to be passed into law, there needs to be a grace period, to give everyone a chance to get their documents in order.

Again, when dealing with the possibility of disenfranchising registered voters, every angle needs to be covered to ensure that all qualified citizens are allowed the time and resources necessary to comply.

Democracy Inaction

This past month, I have had a couple of opportunities to participate in democracy at its finest, and wanted to share my experiences with each.

County Convention

Being a Ron Paul supporter at a Republican convention leaves one feeling a bit offensive and slightly paranoid. Not completely without good reason, of course, but senses are a bit heightened. Which is why when our precinct leader tried telling us that the delegates who didn’t show were going to the state convention, I was immediately in for a battle.

Upon telling this woman, that what she is doing is not in the rules, she proceeds to argue with me, that it doesn’t matter what is in the rules, this man has “done so much for the party and is such a hard worker” that he is going no matter what. From there, she calls over the district leader to clarify the rules, whereupon the district leader tells her that he is on the same level as a guest that wants to become a state delegate, and if there are more people there than slots allotted, that it would have to be worked out among us.

The precinct leader then still proceeded to write down the names of the people she wanted. I said that we should vote, it’s the democratic way. “Democracy, crap”, she told me. “Democracy, crap?” I responded. “I’m sorry, I thought we were part of this process because we believed in a just, fair and democratic process…” She walked over to me, with beady eyes and yelled, “You’re just trying to be argumentative”, and then continued to walk over to a group of women, convincing two of them to become delegates, something neither of them wanted to do.

Fed up, I walked over to the others to pitch my case. They were very sympathetic to my position, and excited to see “someone so young”, so involved, yet, they were all very hesitant to stand up to this witch.

Eventually, the woman convinced three people, including her husband , to run for state delegate that were not planning to. She also wrote in the names of others there to become state delegates, even though, I was the most vocal and most persuasive. Apparently, being vocal works against you in these situations, as I ended up being an alternate delegate. My parents and good friend did make the cut, however, and my sister also made it as an alternate.

The remainder of the night proved to be no less entertaining, as I continued to overhear the witch talk negatively about me and my family to other convention attendees. While, I was definitely irritated, watching the amount of time, effort and emotion she continued to put into the situation, made it all worth it.

State Convention

When I arrived at the state convention, I was provided with a small, cut out list of six Ron Paul delegates running for the national convention in my district. Well organized and planned, I thought. I was impressed.

Unfortunately, that was short-lived when the district decided new rules in a pre-caucus that split up the national delegates and alternates, evenly among the three counties in our district, knocking off three of the delegates we were hoping to get.

Upon trying to amend the rules, we were constantly told that we were out-of-order, or not allowed. The strangest part of it all, was that all the people who stood up and called out for these motions and points, had their photo taken by a man…but not just any man…the husband of the precinct leader (also see: the witch) from the previous story. Odd.

Before the convention was called into order, I was speaking with a Ron Paul supporter, who just lost a bid to get on the ballot for U.S. Senate, about Adam Kokesh. A young man overheard this conversation, and quietly approached me to ask if I was there for Ron Paul. We started up a conversation, and a woman, who turned out to be his mother, walked over and said that a group of people she was just talking to, mentioned ‘the girl over there’ who had the argument at the county convention. I used this opening to explain to them exactly what happened.

The witch ended up in the row behind me, next to the young man I was speaking with earlier. I would look behind, and he would make gestures, but I wasn’t privy to what was happening until the convention was over, when I was told how she was grilling him throughout the process about who he was, why he was there, what are his intentions, where is he from, what has he done for the party, who he supports, etc. Who does this woman think she is?!

All in all, Ron Paul won one alternate delegate from our district. Given the amount of whispering and ass smacking done among the establishment delegates, however, I think it was a miracle we even got one.

Take Away

Politics is a sport among senior citizens, good ol’ boys, and social butterflies. To seniors, it’s a hobby, to the good ol’ boys, it’s a club, and to the social butterflies, it’s a status. The only way we are going to be able to cause change, is to continue to infiltrate. Play their game, use their rules, and then use the rules against them, like they do to us, now. Eventually, there will be no other choice but to listen.

Good Advice, from Unlikely People

Conventional wisdom wouldn’t suggest that one should start taking political advice from Chris Rock’s stand up comedy, however, I have to admit, he has hit the nail on the head with this one.

Don’t try to put yourself in a box, because you WILL NOT FIT. Be an individual. Be a person. Be “other”. Be true to yourself.

 

See the a clip of the skit here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOvPBfMzKjE

Green with Liberty

Recently, I’ve been thinking more about energy efficiency and sustainability. As I get older, the implications are more evident, and personal responsibility becomes more relevant. Because of this, I’ve made strides to decrease my output, but in all honesty, there are still things I have not been willing to compromise on.

With Earth Day coming up, I started to wonder how the green movement plays into the liberty movement. Like all debates, there are two sides: that liberty supports the green movement, and that liberty harms the green movement.

First, we need to identify what liberty means: One has the liberty to do whatever they want, as long as their actions don’t infringe on the liberty of another.

Understanding this definition is key to the argument.

In politics today, we see liberals as the environmentally conscious and conservatives as environmentally irresponsible. Let’s look at two examples, one is on a macro scale, and the other on a micro scale:

1. Business Pollution – Conservatives are generally very pro-business, which lends itself to anti or limited regulation. They see regulations as an inefficient government bureaucracy that increases the cost and difficulty of doing business, hence, reducing job growth. Liberals are generally very pro-regulation. Using a cost-benefit analysis, they see regulations as a small price to pay for reducing our impact on the environment.

2. Light bulbs – Conservatives and libertarians were outraged this summer, when the BULB Act threatened to dictate what kind of light bulbs you are able to put in your home. Citing excessive government regulation, they rallied around this cause, and ultimately succeeded in defeating the bill.

True conservatives, who argue for the sustainability of government and natural process in economics (via laissez-faire economics), in being consistent, should also argue the same in regards to the environment. This means that they should self-regulate their own output, so as not to artificially manipulate the environment in which they operate.

Those who believe in the principles of liberty, should be mindful of its definition, and apply its philosophy to environmental issues. Liberty advocates personal responsibility as the primary regulator of one’s actions and impact on society. Logically, if one has a large carbon footprint, are wasteful, and pollute, those actions are impacting others’ liberty to live in a clean, safe, healthy environment. Which means that those who believe in liberty, should take it upon themselves to regulate their own output, as well.

Though, where is the line drawn? One’s private property? Is it the government’s responsibility to step in? If so, which level of government? How strongly? And what about the gray areas, like water and air, which have no boundaries? The easy answer: None at the federal level.

There are guidelines in the Constitution that allow federal government impose some environmental regulations. For instance, the federal government has jurisdiction over disputes between states (settled in the Supreme Court), and between businesses/individuals from two different states (settled in Federal Courts). If environmental problems run over state lines, this falls within the realm of their role.

All other potential regulations should be imposed at the state and local level. This is the Constitutional way, and it gives consumers, businesses, and property owners options. State and local governments are also more equipped to understand the environmental needs of their own area, and are positioned so that they may implement and regulate laws most effectively.

What is the biggest threat to our planet?

Ironically, the largest environmental offender is the U.S. Government. Not only are they the largest polluters, but due to immunity, they also go unregulated and unpunished. So looking to the government for environmental solutions is like asking the devil for the path to salvation; the best they can do is provide examples of how NOT to go about it.

What’s Shopping Got To Do With It?

I popped into an article today about the clothing store, Urban Outfitters. Having been lured by the vague title, “Why I never shop at Urban Outfitters”, and having shopped there myself, I was curious as to why someone would take such a stand against this seemingly harmless company.

The author, a 16-year-old girl from NYC, has taken on a boycott of the company due to its new CEO’s political contributions to Rick Santorum’s “homophobic and racist” presidential campaign, as well as some minor distaste for some controversial (or not) t-shirts the company has sold.

First, I want to commend this girl for taking a stance on issues she cares about. I am a strong proponent of civil disobedience, and for someone who is young and likely trying to find their cause and place in the world, I think this is a great start.

I have to antagonize, however, by inquiring about all the other products she buys? If you are going to live with this philosophy (or whatever your cause may be), then you must be consistent. It’s like being vegetarian or vegan–you can’t do it halfway; you either are or you aren’t.

That means that every restaurant you eat at, every food item you purchase, all the way down to the bobby pin or hair gel you put in your hair, the products better come from a company with all the same values as yourself. Otherwise, what’s the point in singling out one company?

^^see liberal leanings here^^

I vehemently disagree with most of Rick Santorum’s positions, and most likely anyone that supports him, but, I’m not going to boycott a company because of the personal campaign donations of its CEO; that’s a bit of a stretch, especially given the overall “liberal” nature of the UO brand and products. And again, what’s the point if I am not going to take the time and initiative to check into every company I patronize?

My favorite part? Though Emma may not realize it, she is very much taking advantage of the benefits of capitalism.

Under a capitalistic society, everyone has the right to CHOOSE where their money is or is not spent, and for whatever reason they wish. Unfortunately, I can’t tell the U.S. government not to use my tax dollars for killing innocent men, women, and children in the Middle East and across the rest of the world, in which we don’t belong.

Checks and Balances (UPDATE)

President Obama came out this afternoon, to speak about the Affordable Care Act Supreme Court case:

“Ultimately I am confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress,” the president concluded. “And I just remind conservative commentators that for years what we have heard is that the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint; that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law. Well, this is a good example. And I’m pretty confident that this court will recognize that and not take that step.”

Someone get me a crane, to lift help lift my jaw off the ground.

Mr. President, prefacing your outrageous statement with a claim against conservatives, doesn’t deflect the underlying point you are trying to make. Not only did you undermine and disrespect the authority of the Supreme Court, but you undermined the Constitution of the United States; you know, that piece of paper you swore an oath to uphold?

The Constitution was written with Separation of Powers for a reason: Checks and Balances; to ensure that each branch is complying with the Constitution. If the Supreme Court finds that the White House and Congress passed legislation that was unconstitutional, it is their duty, by law, to strike it down, and vice versa. President Obama, however, seems to think that unless the ruling comes out in his favor, it is judicial activism.

President Obama’s comments come as an insult to the integrity of the most respected judiciaries of the world. If I were one of the justices, I would command an apology from President Obama for his attempt to manipulate the outcome through intimidation and political leveraging.

Side Note:

President Obama : “I am confident that this will be upheld because it should be upheld…”.        —What’s judicial activism again?

Checks and Balances

In a momentous day in history, the Supreme Court will be deciding the fate of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as ‘Obamacare’. The most controversial piece of the bill being the individual mandate, the justices will essentially decide whether or not the federal government has the right to force its citizens to purchase a good or service.

Having read the Constitution, it seems ridiculous to suggest that somewhere within its 48 pages, it has provisions that would allow for an individual mandate. However, many (including 281 elected officials) do deem the Act constitutional based upon this excerpt…:

“The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises [... and] To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes [...]  And To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”

…as well as precedents set by past courts. Going strictly off the excerpt from Article I of the Constitution, it seems clear that the federal government only has the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, Indian Tribes, and among states; thereby excluding its power to force individuals into commerce.

In addition to the argument of constitutionality, fiscally, it cannot be afforded. Congress and the President want to write the program a blank check, but the coffers are empty. With a national debt of almost $16 trillion, entitlement programs going through the roof, expensive and inefficient bureaucracies, and agencies/programs  like USPS, Amtrak, and Social Security failing, it would be disastrous for the government to take control of our health care system.

Instead of being so short-sighted, it is imperative to look at the long-lasting repercussions of this kind of decision. Not just the debt, but government overreach and what it means to the role of government as we know it. The implications, should the Act be upheld, would be profound. The precedent would read that the federal government can force individuals into commerce with businesses or other individuals. Should the federal government, one day, require that all its citizens own a cell phone, live in a permanent dwelling, pay for recycling service etc., the upholding of the PPACA would be the basis for that mandate. It is a slippery slope.

Liberty or Die? Not so fast… 

Some will have you believe that it is in the interest of liberty and freedom to have universal healthcare. That is our liberty and freedom  to live healthy, wealthy and wise. The definition of liberty, however, states that one’s liberty must not infringe on the liberty of another. Requiring medical professionals and insurance providers to provide a service, free of charge, infringes on their liberty. Requiring an individual to hold healthcare insurance or pay a fine, infringes on their liberty. In addition, there are no religious, philosophical, or law doctrines that suggest that healthcare is a right.

My argument:  until you amend the Constitution, take it to the states. Let them decide.

This is actually a rare instance where I support Mitt Romney. He identified a need and want within his state, as governor, and constitutionally did something about it. You can argue with whether or not it should have been done, but at least it was implemented LEGALLY.

Congress and the White House are crossing their fingers, however, my bet is that the Court will narrowly strike down the individual mandate.

Thank goodness for checks and balances.