Suffraging in Vain? Can We the Governed Give Our Consent? By Steve Clemens
When one reflects on the suffering and endurance of Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King, and a myriad of others to secure the vote for women, blacks, and others marginalized at the ballot box, was it all for only a fleeting period of time?
The current push for a mandated Photo ID for voters, if passed, coupled with the present laws in many states forbidding convicted felons from voting, appears to be a concerted attempt to deliberately discourage certain people from voting.
If a central tenant of democracy is the concept of "consent of the governed" - and historically the argument that the legitimacy of the government hinges on it representing the will of the people (see the Declaration of Independence) - then the push for any patriot would seem to be one of demanding universal suffrage. Even those who find themselves in our nation without proper documents are still affected by the "government" and should have some say so there is not a situation of "taxation without representation".
If anything, our democracy needs to broaden the pool of those who are asked to "consent" rather than restricting it to those who get the most benefits (corporations and the wealthy). The old English origin of the word “suffrage” refers to “prayers or pleas on behalf of another”, certainly within the spirit of the suffragettes and civil rights advocates even if the pleas and demands included their own rights as well.
Not only has the infamous Photo ID movement need to be defeated at the polls, our whole concept of representative democracy needs revitalization with the removal of undue influence from corporate and wealthy interests.