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1964 was part of my “what if” life. I graduated high school that year and enlisted in the United States Air Force in September. I informed my recruiter of a preexisting condition, but he failed to put the information into my enlistment folder. Several years later, I was grateful. As my condition became more severe, I was examined by the medical staff at Keesler AFB, Mississippi, and discharged in March of 1965.
For those of you who do not remember, 1965 was the year the war in South Vietnam began to escalate. That recruiter may have saved my life.
Although I had been interested in politics since 1956, the un-explained military action in Vietnam made me anxious for my right to vote. I was 19 in 1965, and I would not be able to vote until 1967.
In the 1968 primaries, I supported Robert Kennedy. Sadly, he was murdered by Sirhan Sirhan in the summer of that year in Los Angeles. I was and am an Independent. However, my choices became Republican Richard Nixon or Democrat Hubert Humphrey.
Although Nixon became a disgraced president, he accomplished more for our nation than any other Republican president in modern history. Unlike many, I was proud that I had given him my precious vote. Among his many accomplishments were ending the draft, establishing relations with The Peoples Republic of China, and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.
I made a few errors over the years, but I always voted based on the man I believed was the most qualified and who identified most closely with my beliefs, needs, and desires. What I was sure of was the importance of my vote. After I moved to Nevada from California in 1986, I realized that for many Americans, their votes in our presidential elections do not count, thanks to the Electoral College. That is for another story, but it did increase my awareness of the importance for every eligible American to cast his or her vote in every election.
Over the last 39 years, those who call themselves “Republicans” made voter suppression number one on their agenda. Over 400 bills have been passed in states controlled by right-wing legislatures.
Although the focus has been on Blacks and other minorities, attempts to gerrymander voting districts are an attempt to end democratic strongholds in all states.
You might be asking why there is such an enormous effort by right-wing politicians to limit voting? Why aren’t they working to increase the number of voters who support their ideas, their principles?
First, they have no ideas aligned with most working-class voters’ needs and wishes. Second, they have proven that they are incapable of governing, as proven by George W. Bush and Donald Trump. More importantly, history demonstrates their primary concern.
As demonstrated by the 2020 election, a large voter turnout results in a win by Democrats and Independents. If the popular vote chose our president, not a single Republican would have resided in the White House since 1993. Over the last 28 years, only once has a GOP candidate won the popular vote, and that was George W. Bush after his reelection bid in 2004.
One final fact. Demographics in the 21st century are frightening to these RINOs. Women continue to outnumber men in America, and the largest demographic today belongs to millennials. Both of these groups tend to cast their votes for more progressive candidates.
Op-ed by James Turnage
Voting Rights Alliance: 61 Forms of Voter Suppression
UC Berkeley: Stacking the deck: How the GOP works to suppress minority voting; by Edward Lempinen
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Stephen Melkisethian’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Timothy K Hamilton’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License