No Country for Voting Men

When we talk about politics, it often becomes wrapped up in numbers… the number of voters, polling percentages, how many calls you can make per hour to support your candidate. It’s really all about numbers. It’s also really all about the MAJORITY. After all, in an election, that’s what you’re trying to win, right? The majority gets you in office, or it gets your measure passed. Or in the case of today’s political atmosphere… that new law or that candidate can translate to more money lining your pocket.

To contrast, our nation’s courts system is almost, always about the minority. When you’re a defendant against the State of Texas, or the city of Dallas, you are taking on the majority of us in court. You’re DEFINITELY a minority in every sense of the word then… it’s you versus hundreds, thousands or even millions of people. Often times in the case of Civil Rights, those laws and precedents are advanced and protected not by the majority granting them through referendum or legislation, but by the interpolation of court cases. After all, we live in a nation where millions of our citizens used to be “separate, but equal”. The only reason that our school system cannot discriminate on basis of race is because of a court case.

By it’s inherent nature, the idea of “Voter Suppression” is really a tough sell. After all, the majority of us already have a photo ID? We show it to buy alcohol, to get in to government buildings, to go to the club. Honestly, we take it for granted. It’s just a very simple, commonplace and neglected thing in our lives. It’s perfectly reasonable to ask this of someone when the majority of us already lives that way, right?

But all Americans aren’t in this majority. Some live under very different circumstances. Take Sanderson, TX for example… the site where the now infamous movie No Country for Old Men was filmed. The Texas Tribune released an interactive map showing the location of all of the state’s current DPS locations, including ones that are currently closed due to budget constraints or low performance. If you live in Sanderson, you are 84.4 miles away from the nearest DPS office. That means if you happen to not have a voting ID, you have to make a 170 mile round-trip if you want to vote under the new Texas rules. It’s sufficient to say, that trip would be a deterrent to voting on November 6th.

Even in urban communities, the challenges to get something as simple as a photo ID can be almost as great. For citizens that don’t have a car or are home-bound, the bus trip in Houston proper could be well over 2 hours to get to their closest DPS office. The state insists on implementing the new laws, but there is no mention of extended hours for these offices, assistance to help people obtain the proper ID, or an education campaign to let voters know of the changes.

If the intention behind a Voter ID law were true, no one is doing anything at the state level to acutally ENCOURAGE disenfranchised voters to register and vote. We live in the 21st century after all… It’s possible to have a motor-voter ID van. Go to the elderly’s homes and make the photo ID for them on the spot. Take the motor ID vehicle to Sanderson and work with your citizens to comply with the new laws. At the very least extend DPS office hours so that more citizens can actually get to the locations without missing work. But the problem in Texas? No one is talking about these possible solutions. They just want to make sure this law takes effect before November so Barack Obama will be defeated.

Before we know it, Texas truly will be No Country for Voting Men or Women. That’s why in the case of voting rights, I applaud the Obama administration for sticking up for all of those in Sanderson, Houston, and everywhere else that don’t have the money and power to speak for themselves. This is a free country, but it won’t remain free without a fight.

3 reasons Great Britain really is… GREAT

If you’re like me, you’ve been watching the thrill and spectacle of the 2012 Olympics, and noticing a particularly special star in every event… the amazing city of London. The UK capital is a wealth of majestic history, architectural splendor, and of course home to the storied royal family. It’s quite easy for one to get entranced by all that is British indeed. But that left me wondering… what are some reasons that Great Britain is so GREAT? I’ve thought up three worth examining.

1) The National Rail System

The British Rail network is the 18th largest in the world, but considering the size of the country, this means it’s also an extremely dense system. When many countries destroyed passenger rail services to make way for the automobile, Great Britain kept rail transport as a primary mode of service. This is of great benefit today, as fuel prices are at record highs, and cars have proven to be very expensive and at times inefficient forms of travel. Every major city in Great Britain is connected by rail, and many of the smaller towns as well. It is possible to travel the whole country by train.

2) The National Health Service (NHS)

Well, Danny Boyle chose to devote eleven minutes to the NHS in the Olympics Opening Ceremonies, so they must be doing something right. Despite the fable told by the American Right-Wing, it only takes one visit to the UK to find that people LOVE their Single-payer system of health care. British taxes are “higher” than in the US, but all doctor visits, hospital stays and even the emergency room are FREE. Here in the US, we pay hundreds, and even thousands of dollars per month on Health Insurance, but yet go to the doctor and you’ll probably receive a bill in the mail later. What do we pay for again?

3) Prime Minister’s Questions

This is a tradition of Parliament that has become a quick favorite of mine. The Prime Minister is mandated to meet with Parliament once per week and take any question that the MPs wish to ask. He (or she) must be prepared to answer on any topic. PM represents the leader of the party… at present that is the Conservatives under David Cameron… and must answer to the opposing sides of government. Often times, these sessions can be very animated as the topics discussed are controversial, but it allows the British People to hear both sides of the argument in somewhat equal representation. This is something that would greatly benefit American Politics as well.

Those are my picks. What do you like about Great Britain?