Entrenched, conservative interests in America have often condemned, or at least looked warily upon, citizen activism. In the early days of our Republic, they castigated those who participated in “self-created societies.” They believed that the people’s voice on affairs of state should be expressed primarily when casting ballots for public office, and infrequently (and quietly) otherwise.
These societies facilitated the ability of citizens to discuss public policy matters; and to organize. Our first party system evolved out of these debates.
Our Republic, our Democracy, has changed a great deal since the Washington Administration. Parties have appeared and vanished, issues have risen, been resolved, or transformed, rights have been recognized, extended and curtailed.
With that said, I would maintain that one animating principle remains constant…the interests of a conservative elite who wish to preserve their socioeconomic clout. Not every conservative is so motivated; nor is every member of the elite conservative. The point is that there are many who belong to a class that could best be described using Teddy Roosevelt’s classic phrase, “malefactors of great wealth.” And, many elements of this particular grouping seem to have found a home in today’s Republican Party.
If voter turnout was 100% in Maryland, the forces allied with these reactionary interests would be in full retreat. They rely upon a combination of citizen disinterest, and generous financial contributions to like-minded candidates and organizations, to advance their agenda. Sometimes they can cloak their plans under the guise of fair-sounding populist verbiage. When they have a losing hand, they go on the offensive in the hope of sowing fear and confusion.
That is why it is so important for the average citizen to participate in the electoral process. It offers an opportunity to rebuke the narrow interests of this conservative elite while ensuring that the voice of the people will be heard, and not just during election season.
Chances are, if you are reading these words, you have already cast your ballot or you plan to do so via absentee or at the polls on Election Day. This post serves as a reminder then, for you to talk with your friends and family members who may be occasional voters. Ask them: who do you think wants you to vote and who do you think wants you to “forget” to vote…and why? Which party and candidates best represent your values, and which are more inclined to work against them?
Stay tuned, as more will follow.