Monday, April 14, 2014

President Obama: Defending voting rights is a two-way street

On Friday President Obama gave an impassioned speech about voting rights. He promised that he and Attorney General Eric Holder will do what it takes to challenge the restrictions Republicans are attempting to put on those rights.
...as President, I’m not going to let attacks on these rights go unchallenged. We’re not going to let voter suppression go unchallenged. So earlier this week, you heard from the Attorney General -- and there’s a reason the agency he runs is called the Department of Justice. They’ve taken on more than 100 voting rights cases since 2009, and they’ve defended the rights of everybody from African Americans to Spanish speakers to soldiers serving overseas.
And yes, he pointed out that its not Democrats who are attacking the franchise.
But it’s a fact this recent effort to restrict the vote has not been led by both parties -- it’s been led by the Republican Party. And in fairness, it’s not just Democrats who are concerned...I want a competitive Republican Party, just like a competitive Democratic Party. That’s how our democracy is supposed to work -- the competition of ideas. But I don’t want folks changing the rules to try to restrict people’s access to the ballot.

And I think responsible people, regardless of your party affiliation, should agree with that. If your strategy depends on having fewer people show up to vote, that’s not a sign of strength, that’s a sign of weakness.
But then he pointed out that there is an even bigger threat to our voting rights.
...the truth is that for all these laws that are being put in place, the biggest problem we have is people giving up their own power -- voluntarily not participating.

The number of people who voluntarily don't vote, who are eligible to vote, dwarfs whatever these laws are put in place might do in terms of diminishing the voting roles...

Like the three civil rights workers in Mississippi -- two white, one black -- who were murdered 50 years ago as they tried to help their fellow citizens register to vote. James Chaney and Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner believed so strongly that change was possible they were willing to lay down their lives for it. The least you can do is take them up on the gift that they have given you. Go out there and vote. You can make a change. You do have the power.
Its not enough to get enraged at Republican attempts to restrict access to voting when so many Americans give it up willingly. President Obama has promised that he and his administration will do everything they can to ensure our right to vote. Its up to us to use it!

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