Column: Oligarchy versus voting rights
America was founded on democratic principles that were so eloquently outlined in the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The Declaration states: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government …”
In recent times, our national government and special interest groups have been working hard to undermine this treasured document for the American people. Something has gone wrong with our democratic republic — or whatever it is we have today.
In April 2014, two political scientists from Princeton and Northwestern universities released a study that indicates that America is an oligarchy and not a democracy or a republic. The Encyclopedia Britannica website defines an oligarchy as a “government by the few, especially despotic power exercised by a small and privileged group for corrupt or selfish purposes.”
In 2015, former President Jimmy Carter proclaimed the following about America: “Now, its just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery …” I join these experts in their opinion of America today.
I believe that America’s oligarchy has a great deal to do with voting issues today as well as with our other basic rights. American citizens have cherished their right to vote for a long time, but lately, voting rights all across the country are being thwarted.
The reason that I raise this issue is due to recent controversies surrounding voting issues in the 2016 presidential caucuses and primaries. Citizens’ voting rights are being obstructed and suppressed, according to many reports from mainstream media and social media.
For example, the recent Democratic and Republican primaries in Arizona and a few others across America are full of controversy and questionable ethics. In Arizona, hundreds, maybe thousands, in the Phoenix area were not allowed to vote due to the lack of polling places, ballots, and other issues. Many waited in lines for hours without voting and then went home in frustration.
Similar scenarios in voting discrepancies have surfaced in several states during the past few weeks. In several of the recent caucuses and primaries, social media reported voter registration switches, identification issues, machine ballot issues and the lack of ballots, among other problems.
The caucuses and primaries are proving to be highly dysfunctional and subject to party tampering across the country. Some investigations are underway in Arizona and a few other states. Lawsuits and backlashes over these voting issues may soon surface across the country.
As you may have noticed, our politics are getting uglier by the day. We have reached that point where the greed for power knows no laws and no boundaries in our country. We have some serious problems that need to be resolved in America’s political process.
I thought that we took care of America’s voting issues in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. As a few legal experts have pointed out, the current voting issues are due to the Supreme Court decision in 2013 that guts much of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The U.S. Supreme Court has been on a destructive path in recent years when it comes to upholding America’s democratic principles. Citizens United is a recent example of the justices’ worst decision-making. Now, we are back to square one on voting rights in America. How and when are we going to correct this problem?
The current state of American politics represents a moral and political dilemma. We, the people, are left with only one choice, and that is a nonviolent political revolution. We must challenge the politically elite establishment or forever be shackled to this feudal political system that leaves a large share of America’s voters out of the election process. If we don’t challenge it, our freedoms will slip further into the hands of the oligarchy.
The important question that I need to ask Americans is this: Will the presidential election of 2016 be the wake-up call that America needs to make political reforms? Or will the American political system remain the Downton Abbey of the free world?
This is my view from Main Street America.
Randy Fricke of New Castle is an environmental advocate and political activist. He is the author of “If I Were President/Saving Main Street America.” His column, A View From Main Street, appears on the first Friday of the month.