Voting Rights Tussle: Republicans Are at Odds with American Founding Fathers

by Eli Mshomi

Voting is your profound way of expressing your desire of the choice of the leader you want to represent you in your government.

It’s your voice, your civic duty, and your right to participate in the affairs of your government. 

Perhaps, of all the civil rights, voting rights matter the most. Why? Because if we argue that our voting rights matter and the Constitution supports the arguments that voting is a right and every voter’s voice, in that case, our political leaders must ensure that people’s voting rights are secure and protected, not tampered with to violate such rights.

Republicans Campaigning Against Founding Fathers Narrative of Voter Rights

From the Founding Father’s viewpoints, this narrative began with James Madison, who helped to produce the Constitution of the US, which was ratified in 1787.

The Founding Fathers introduced the list of amendments to the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights in 1789, after the realization of the importance of those rights to the voters.

Madison was once an opponent of the Bill of Rights because he thought “the government can only exert the powers specified by the Constitution.”

But later, Madison came to “appreciate the importance voters attached to these protections, the role that enshrining them in the Constitution could have in educating people about their rights, and the chance that adding them might prevent its opponent from making more drastic changes to it.”

Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, which start with the recognition of man’s rights, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness,” which also suggests the role of Founding Fathers in defending voting rights.

To secure these rights, he wrote, “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the Consent of the Governed. that whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it.”

Then came Lyndon Johnson, who was a passionate supporter of civil rights and signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was intended to end the Jim Crow era and held government accountable to its Black and minority citizens and to a true democracy.

Lyndon Johnson argues, “This right to vote is the biggest right, without which all others are meaningless. It gives people, people as individuals, control over their destiny”.

Later in recent memory emerged Martin Luther King Jr., a pioneer and champion of civil rights movements, who throughout his life advocated for peaceful resistance against the social injustices minority groups were subject to.

Republicans are Going Against Martin Luther King’s Cause

MLK fought tirelessly and gave his life for a greater cause. He said, “If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.”

This could not have been more relevant to the recent actions we see from the Republican Senate, blocking bills that address people’s rights and protections of those writes.

In honoring his legacy at a time when some politicians are engaging in enacting state laws that violate the same rights he fought and lost his life for, his family demanded actions on federal voting rights legislation to honor his legacy of fighting for civil rights. “We are asking people to honor Dr. King through action to protect the right to vote.”

We’re directly calling on Congress not to pay lip service to my father’s ideals without doing the very thing that would protect his legacy: pass voting rights legislation,” said King’s eldest son, Martin Luther King III, on MLK Day.

Despite the call to action at a time when our voting rights are under attack by the Republican leadership in the Senate and states run by Republican governors, the voting rights legislation was blocked the next day on the Senate floor. The actions of the Republican leadership in recent years have ignored American history, values, and the Constitution altogether.

In fact, for the second time, The Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act was rejected in the Senate when all Republican Senators, this time joined by Krysten Sinema and Joe Manchin after betraying their Democratic party in changing the rules to overcome a Republican filibuster, hence failed to pass the voting right legislation.

Joe Biden’s presidential election victory was almost hijacked (by a coup of January 6, 2020) due to a false narrative, a “Big Lie,” manufactured by his predecessor, Donald Trump.

Trump was elected into power in 2016 under a series of suspicions following the intimidations, false threats, and lies about Hilary Clinton, and, of course, with the help of Russian interference into the US election systems.

These are the same tactics he wanted to deploy to steal the election from Joe Biden when he knew he was going to lose the election.

Final Thoughts

For Republicans, defying the voting rights legislation is actually defying the Constitution of the United States.

They are at a crossroads with the crafters of the American Constitution, as they are unwilling to help people in choosing the leaders of their own choice.

Instead, they are going against this narrative when they are passing voter suppression bills in many red states. Biden’s claims of calling Republicans Jim Crow 2.0 are real, which can push America into chaos.

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