Is a citizen’s right to vote still respected?

New York City Comptroller, Scott Stringer, severely criticized the city’s Board of Elections in the aftermath of Tuesday’s elections and stated: “There is nothing more sacred in our nation than the right to vote…” Is this still true?

Lexington, Massachusetts, April 19, 1775 In the early hours of April 19, 1775, Captain John Parker was alerted to mobilize the Lexington Company of the Middlesex, County Brigade, Massachusetts Militia in anticipation of a British 700 man force which was marching to Concord to capture provincial arms. By 2 a.m. Parker had mustered his company on the Lexington Green. The Lexington Company of militia was typical of the period. The youngest militiaman was 18, the oldest 63; eight fathers and sons served together. Most were farmers while some were veterans of the French and Indian War. Just after sunrise Parker and his 77 militiamen stood in defiance of the British advance guard. "Stand your ground," Parker ordered. "Don't fire until fired upon. But if they want to have a war let it begin here." Major John Pitcairn, commander of the British advance guard, ordered the militiamen to lay down their arms. Realizing that his company was outnumbered, Parker ordered his men to disperse. As the militiamen began to break ranks, a British officer fired his pistol. Without orders, the British troops opened fire. Although greatly outnumbered, the militiamen returned the fire. The battle went on for several minutes all around the Green. When it was over eight Americans lay dead and nine were wounded. The British quickly resumed their march. Later that morning, Captain Parker reorganized his unit and marched to Concord. The Lexington Company would later fight in the Battle of Bunker Hill and form a company for service in the Continental Army. However, few of its members on that fateful April morning realized that the Battle of Lexington would lead to the Revolutionary War and American independence. The Lexington Company and the Middlesex County Brigade are perpetuated by the 181st and 182nd Infantry Regiments, Massachusetts Army National Guard.

SAN JOSE, April 21, 2016 — From the time of the Colorado GOP “no vote victory” for Ted Cruz up through the New York primary the other day, all kinds of talk show hosts on television and radio, as well as other assorted political pundits have attempted to serve as spokespersons, or oracles for the Republican Party: “It’s the GOP rules, the way the GOP traditionally operates, the way things are…” And yet, at the same time, any rational person can weigh this against any number of top GOP officials stating emphatically that they would not vote for Donald Trump if he won the Republican Party nomination to run as their candidate for president.

Some Republican Party officials have had the nerve to state that they would vote for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders before they would vote for Trump – in some cases, before they would vote for Ted Cruz. Representative Stephen King of New York, on the eve of the New York primary stated on “Morning Joe,” that he hates Ted Cruz and would rather take cyanide if Cruz won the GOP nomination. This speaks volumes about party unity, as well as about how the GOP in Congress has managed to allow the Democrats to push the nation further toward the cliff of destruction. King’s comments may also provide a prophecy not only of his own future, but one for his political party.

There is so much on display in this year’s election for the average citizen to take in that it will not be lost upon the voters – that is, if Americans are still allowed to cast a vote. What the GOP did in Colorado was deliberate, but what the Board of Elections did in the New York Primary the other day was frightening with thousands upon thousands of citizens erased from the voter lists. It is absolutely amazing – almost like watching episodes of some twisted pilots of reality TV. While what happened in Colorado was reflective of big Party politics at its most ruthless, yet legal; the tragedy of what happened in New York is reflective of the political process at its most ridiculous – gross incompetence, and possibly illegal.

Democracy trampled in Colorado

In each case, citizens were denied the right to vote in an election process that was designed to  to provide members of a political party the right to vote fairly in a preliminary selection process of candidates who would run for President of the United States. So, the red thread that ties these two incidents together is the revered right of American citizens to make a meaningful contribution to the political process and express their choice in a candidate for public office. The New York City Comptroller, Scott Stringer, severely criticized the city’s Board of Elections and stated, “There is nothing more sacred in our nation than the right to vote, yet election after election, reports come in of people who were inexplicably purged from the polls…”

The common denominator in these two examples of a broken political process is the obvious in what Scott Stringer stated: the sacred right to vote. While there are numerous defenders of the GOP manipulation of the Colorado Republican voters, it is a bit more difficult to defend careless  ineptitude – if that is what is at the heart of the fiasco in New York. The real irony is that on April 19th the anniversary of the “shot heard ‘round the world” came and went. In that day, so many brave men and boys stood their ground against their own government because they were coming to take men prisoner who believed in a British citizen’s right to have a say in the making of the laws, or in the electing of representatives to Parliament, or the right to bear arms.

Yesterday, it is not likely that many Americans gave much thought to the “shot heard ‘round the world.” That may be because our memories have faded, or we no longer care to learn the lessons of history. However, Americans should remember why sleepy boys and tired men awoke and got up and out of bed, and pulled on their clothes and grabbed their muskets and shot to go out to stand their ground against their own government. Americans should try to remember that they were not Americans once. British common folk stood their ground as they faced British regulars on Lexington green. The brave men and boys stood their ground on the principle that they should be treated as proper British citizens, but they were not.

Colorado GOP burns the right of one man, one vote

Over one year before, not far from Lexington, in Boston harbor, other brave men dumped 90 thousand pounds of British tea into the water in what became known as the Boston Tea Party. It was not about the tea, nor was it about the taxes being collected on the tea. The colonists were used to being taxed by their own colonial legislatures – for many years. They were not accustomed to being taxed directly by the mother country. The colonists all knew that they had not been given a voice to express their opinion about whether they should be taxed on tea. They had no right to vote! Thus, the expression: “No taxation without representation,” meant a great deal to them.

“There is nothing more sacred in our nation than the right to vote…” as Stringer stated, but the real question remains: Is this still true? Does the GOP still genuinely believe this? Do people who are responsible for elections in the state of New York even respect the citizen’s right to vote at this point in history?

It is now being questioned whether the Establishment Republican elite honestly respect the voice of the citizens’ of their own Party. When public officials in the  current Republican Party no longer have any respect for their own colleagues, how does that play out when considering the lowly members of the party? It simply translates that some at the upper echelon of the GOP do not believe in the concept of a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

The delegate appointment system in either Party is obviously a stop-gap measure to maintain control of either political party. It has the appearance of voting, but it is not really voting – like having the appearance of a fair contest, only sort of not fair. Yet, the talking heads on radio and TV are kind enough to help us less intelligent Americans to know that this is simply the GOP rules – because it is really their party; it’s the way things are… If things seem to no longer be the way citizen’s believe them to be, it is because Americans need worry less about what they have witnessed and trust more in the people who are telling them that they are not witnessing an oligarchical form of candidate selection. Or, people could trust their own common sense.

Americans should try to remember why sleepy boys and tired men awoke, and got up out of bed, and grabbed their muskets and shot to stand their ground against their own government. It may very well be a time Americans need to awaken once again. The dawn of a new day is rapidly approaching, and who knows what one will find across the green when the sunlight starts dispelling the darkness cast by well-rehearsed and well-performed illusions?

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Dennis Jamison reinvented his life after working for a multi-billion dollar division of Johnson & Johnson for several years. Now semi-retired, he is an adjunct faculty member at West Valley College in California. He currently writes a column on US history and one on American freedom for the Communities Digital News, as well as writing for other online publications. During the 2016 presidential primaries, he worked as the leader of a network of writers, bloggers, and editors who promoted the candidacy of Dr. Ben Carson. He founded the “We the People” Network of writers and the Citizen Sentinels Project to pro-actively promote the values and principles established at the founding of the United States, and to discover and support more morally centered citizen-candidates who sincerely seek election as public servants, not politicians.