We are bombarded with them. You drive down the streets and they’re scattered along every curb. Red, blue, yellow, orange—they’re everywhere. There’s hardly any escaping them.
You head home for a little refuge, and you flip on the TV. You’re bombarded again. “She hates jobs!” “He’s a racist sexist homophobe!” “She wants dead school children!”
Or something like that.
The cacophony conjures up images of a scene out of the Christmas classic “The Grinch:”
“Oh the noise noise noise noise! If there’s one thing I hate, it’s all the noise, noise noise noise!”
Regardless of whether or not the ads are truthful, there’s no denying that we’re all beyond ready for November 4th to come and go . . . if only to rid our lives of the dreaded ads.
That, and it’s clearly time for a desperately needed new direction in our country—but that’s another article.
But what happens when election season goes beyond the “outrageous” ads, the phone calls, the fundraising, the yard signs, etc.?
What happens when the sanctity of your home is invaded—not by some political ad you can turn off—but by a threatening activist letter intimidating you to vote . . . or else face an “inquisitive” activist’s call to find out why you didn’t?
Enter America Votes, a progressive organization behind an intimidation campaign targeted at getting people to the polls in Minnesota . . . through shame.
A relative of mine was one of their latest targets.
Courtesy of Author.
In a deceptively official-looking envelope emblazoned with “Official Records Enclosed” and “Open Immediately,” my relative found that her name, address and voting record had been publicized along with those of a few of her neighbors.
“We’re sending this mailing to you and your neighbors to publicize who does, and does not vote,” the letter reads, “we will be reviewing these records after the election to determine whether or not you joined your neighbors in voting.”
So, can they really do this?
Well, while the votes taken in the ballot box are to be kept anonymous, whether or not you voted is indeed available for public view. And, unless you’re unlisted, so is your address.
Courtesy of Author.
So what’s the big deal?
In pondering the letter, 1 Corinthians 10:23 came to mind. It reads:
"‘Everything is permissible’--but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible’--but not everything is constructive.”
Paul is obviously not talking about electoral practices, but we can apply the principal to the letter.
If it’s permissible to obtain voter records, and it’s permissible to obtain addresses—does it follow that it’s right to use the two together in order to shame the recipient into doing something?
Here’s the thing. There’s a difference between the “shock value” of the endless political commercials and mailers, etc., and straight-up, unabashed intimidation.
Frankly, what makes this any different than the uniformed Black Panthers who stood outside polling places brandishing nightsticks and spewing racial slurs to intimidate voters unsympathetic to their views?
This may be a little more civilized, but the tone is the same: “If you don’t want to be on this very public shame list, you’ll go and vote, you hear?”
Even more curious is the recipient of this particular mailing. The exact same letter was sent out in New York, though to Democrats exclusively. Similar letters and even a voter “report card” have been sent out by America Votes in other states as well, as the group seeks to “increase voter turnout for Democrats and for Democratic positions.”
My relative is a Conservative.
They already know how a registered Democrat is probably going to vote. They also know how a Conservative is likely to vote. So—it would almost seem that the more beneficial outcome for the Progressive cause is that my relative didn’t vote.
In that light, does it follow that the group is not only intimidating its own to the polls, but intends to harass those (like my relative) who would potentially vote outside what they want?
Remember, it costs money (at least in my state) to obtain voter records. Why would they waste it on voter records from the other side?
Just take a moment and consider how individuals of my relative’s political persuasion are treated by a side that preaches—ironically—tolerance, for holding “other than progressive” views:
If you’re a supporter of traditional marriage, you’re a bigot. If you’re pro-life, you’re anti-choice. If you question the theory of evolution or global warming, you’re a flat-earth science denier. If you believe businesses should be able to make their own decisions about what they pay their workforce, you’re anti-worker. If you question feminism, you’re a misogynist. If you’re pro-second amendment, you’re pro-violence. If you’re anti-illegal immigration, you’re a racist. If you’re pro-voter ID, you are likewise a racist.
Is it really outrageous to question why a conservative voter would receive left-wing "get out the vote" intimidation mailers?
Consider also the fact that publishing lists of names, addresses and voting records potentially opens the door for those who (aided by the push to block Voter ID nationwide) would seek to steal the votes of those who don’t use their own. After all, it’s got to be a bit easier to assume the identity of a verifiably living (albeit delinquent) voter, that it would be to assume the identity of say, a dead person. Then again—nearly 3,000 dead people voted in the 2008 elections in my state, but I’ve digressed.
At the end of the day, voting is indeed a privilege that we should readily embrace whenever we can, as part of our unique freedoms.
Just as much a part of your right to vote, however, is your right not to vote.
What if you’re faced with a ballot full of people that are “lesser of two evils” choices? What if you just didn’t take the time to educate yourself on the issues, and didn’t feel right about casting an uneducated vote?
Or what if you’re serving your country honorably—and you know that your absentee vote will more than likely go uncounted?
There are myriad reasons why a person might not vote. And while it’s technically your fellow citizens’ right to know if you voted, it is not their right to know why, and certainly not so they can harass you about it.
We can put up with the cheesy, over-the-top, or even outrageous political ads every election cycle.
But are we really going to put up with this?
Mary Ramirez is a full time writer, creator of www.afuturefree.com – a political commentary blog, and contributor to The Chris Salcedo Show. She can be reached at: email@example.com; or on Twitter: @AFutureFree
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