Disenfranchised. The very word evokes strong reactions in us: we peer back through American history, thinking of young people, minorities, suffragettes, and even slaves. None of which, at one time or another, had the right to directly participate in our system of self-government. Heck, the Founding Fathers intentionally didn’t give the vote originally to anybody who wasn’t a white, land-owning male (though I’m guessing “powdered-wig-wearing” might have been a negotiable category).
And because of the power of this one word (and the sins of our forefathers), we are doomed to hear it each and every election cycle from now until the end of the republic (yes, my Star Wars-loving self just spazzed out as I wrote that last part). We see it on TV, we hear it in what passes for political debate. Leftists of all stripes invoke it, endlessly demagogue it and never, ever let any of us forget that there are disenfranchised among us (they’re kind of like that kid in The Sixth Sense: “I see dead people!)
Only now these downtrodden (note to self: be sure to trod someone down very soon) have somehow expanded to include not only all the usual suspects listed above, but also such groups as illegal aliens, who I suppose by the Left’s tortured logic somehow just had to be on the Framers’ white-male-lovin’ minds during that stuffy summer stretch of weeks in Philadelphia 235 years ago.
Ah, liberal guilt. It’s the Holy Grail of Leftists and Statists everywhere, the cup from which all social programs flow, magically and perpetually replenishing itself, and serving as the rationalization for all sorts of stupid things we as a country end up doing that have absolutely zero basis in reason. If you could somehow capture its energy, it’d be the ultimate Green Jobs program.
Does anybody else have what they call compassion fatigue here yet?
Meanwhile, back in the real world, 80 million ordinary citizens take the one extraordinarily conventional step every single day that makes the U.S. economic engine actually run. They go to work. Monday through Friday, and even sometimes on Saturdays.
They’ve been labeled the Silent Majority by Nixon (and ‘masses leading lives of quiet desperation’ before him by Thoreau), the middle class, the consumer class, the bourgeoisie. And yet their unfailing habit of playing by the rules, putting in overtime to put food on the table and pay their taxes has created the financial wonder of the modern world: the American economy.
This is to say nothing of those millions of mom-and-pop proprietors, the legal immigrant shopkeepers, those entrepreneurs who take the biggest financial and personal gambles and start their own small businesses. I’ll never forget the story from a friend in the Korean community who had to have his wedding reception first, prior to the ceremony that weekend, so the bulk of his guests could return to their dry cleaning businesses, their small corner markets, their stores.
Which brings us back to the whole concept of disenfranchisement. Just how much injustice is there still out there—much less every time the polls open? I mean, we’ve extended the right to vote and have your voice heard to pretty much every demographic group possible, and voter turnout still clocked in at right about sixty percent of the registered electorate (and that was considered high!). Barring (get it?) those illegal aliens, there simply aren’t any blocs of people remaining out there who aren’t allowed to pull a lever on Election Day.
Yet we have to hear these “dog-whistle”-type stories continually via the dying Leftist-run media: comparisons between having to show a government I.D. and Jim Crow laws; having to simply sign and attest to the fact that you are who you say you are somehow becoming the equivalent, I suppose, of literacy tests once administered to Reconstruction-era blacks. As George Orwell said, control the language and you control the debate.
So we see the constant narrative of large numbers of people (poor people, brown people, black people, ‘undocumented’ people, you fill in the blank) being disenfranchised discussed obsessively every couple of years. This particular conceit happens to fit particularly well with the already-existing idea that all conservatives are racists. Rinse, repeat.
But if I can be so heretical and bold—who are the truly disenfranchised within our existing political system?
Beyond these calculated, cynical sideshows thrown up by the Left to make middle America uncomfortable with its past for immediate electoral/partisan gain, who is being taken advantage of here? It’s not ethnic groups, most of whom are represented coalitions, and part and parcel of urban political machines today. And it’s not the corrupt, crony capitalist class, who no matter what outrageous item on the menu they order, never have to pay the bill.
You know who does?
You’re part of that grand American tradition of holding up your end of the bargain. You’re that proud parent who works extra hours to give your child the best education available. You’re that citizen who foots ever-increasing taxes on everything from the car you drive to the property you “own”.
All the while believing that the men and women you send to your city council, your county board or commission, your state capital, or even Washington, D.C. are actually going to do what they said they would do. Then you watch and listen, year after year—it seems helplessly—as your voice gets drowned out by the chorus of shouts and cries…always for more spending, more government programs.
And on your dime.
Call me crazy but I’d say that’s the textbook definition of disenfranchised.