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home : insight & opinion : guest columns
November 20, 2018

11/7/2018 11:20:00 AM
What's important, post-election? Law and rights
By GREGG BONELLI
For the Daily News

"Voting is not my thing," said the 20-something waiting for a bus. The others watched the interview between glances at their phones. Voting is an ancient and archaic means for determining the popular will after all, and it's the 21st century now - shouldn't there be an app for this?

No, actually, there should not be, but until citizens wake up to their responsibilities it's likely that we will continue to have an embarrassing percentage of eligible voters not vote. There are any number of reasons, few of which interest me. Those who don't vote deserve whatever they get as a reward for their apathy. If someone needs my help to get to the polls, I'm happy to give it.

If you aren't able to look your neighbor in the eye while you vote your conscience, then some re-evaluation is in order. No, they don't need to know how you voted, and no again, you don't have to answer any questions about it, ever. We have a secret ballot here.

Party affiliations should not be used as a blanket indictment of anyone, but right now they are. Democrats do not want to tear down our borders, nor do Republicans only favor the rich. Such sweeping inaccuracies should be too silly to be believed and yet, somehow, they find traction with today's voting population. This tells me our educational system could use some help in teaching our young people how to fend off hyperbole while seeking truth.

I have some sympathy for young people; they've just come out of a phase of life where they were told to believe what they were told. Think of that dynamic for a moment. "You're telling me I should believe what you're telling me, including to believe that? And yet we have all these problems that you caused? That's plainly unbelievable."

I spend time helping students not be fooled. The course material is the law and its associated causes and effects, and I would hope that the image we all share about it is that justice should be, must be, the same for everyone. That's why she is depicted wearing a blindfold. Not because she should not see what's going on, but because her judgment must be unbiased to be fair. That notion of fairness is key to who we are and what we stand for.

In the early days of the 20th Century some misguided American scientists generated the theory of eugenics, which said some people are superior to others and therefore entitled to decide who can and cannot have children, vote, hold certain positions in society and so forth. It was, and is, a popular theory with the KKK and its modern white supremacy progeny, despite the fact that it is totally incorrect.

Being wrong is no deterrent to being believed, it turns out, and so we still find discrimination being offered even as somehow connected to God's will.

Our Supreme Court upheld mandatory sterilization laws, and we defended turning away Jewish asylum seekers claiming that there were criminals and gang members in their ranks, not unlike the claims we hear today being made about those fleeing Honduras. To our lasting shame, the Holocaust happened as we looked away and said it was not our problem.

Nine million murdered on a planet where we had the power to prevent it was our problem. The present crisis in our own hemisphere is as well.

When I vote, and I do, I vote my conscience, not a party wanting power for some petty reason of its own or in reaction to some hate speech I was bombarded with since the last election.

Today is the eve of Election Day, and it used to be a cause for celebration because one party or the other had offered some hope that the future would be better than the past, and if they won we could hold them to it. I don't hear that today, I hear instead how we need to be afraid and protect ourselves from the evil ones out to do us harm and steal from us all we have. I don't believe it. In a world where many need help, should we be a helper, or turn away and say it's not our problem?

No matter who wins, afterward the law must be there to protect us and everyone else equally, and it will if only we agree that is how it should be. To accept anything less, to let one group or race or party dictate to all the others because of some claim of a right to get to do so, is to give up all that we had ever hoped to be as a country.

It is the flaw in democracy that is seldom talked about. Majority rules, but there are limits; and the limit must be the protection of the rights of everyone the majority rules over by treating everyone the same, blindly, as justice does.







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