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Let us think about the idea of voting in the United States of America. Patients espouse the notion that voting in an election has lost its power in recent years. How many times have I heard, "My vote doesn't matter, so I don't vote. Besides, I don't like either candidate running for office anyway."? The answer is a million times. Well, that is an exaggeration, but more than one hundred.

Many people, both scholars, and laypeople, analyze the United States Constitution to understand the founding fathers' intent. I sifted through some of the histories of the right to vote in our country, and I was disturbed. Initially, the original thirteen colonies governers restricted suffrage to white males with the following property qualifications:

Connecticut: an estate worth 40 shillings annually or £40 of personal property; Delaware: fifty acres of land (twelve under cultivation) or £40 of personal property; Georgia: fifty acres of land; Maryland: fifty acres of land and £40 personal property

Massachusetts Bay: an estate worth 40 shillings annually or £40 of personal property; New Hampshire£50 of personal property; New Jersey: one-hundred acres of land, or real estate or personal property £50; New York£40 of personal property or ownership of land; North Carolina: fifty acres of land; Pennsylvania: fifty acres of land or £50 of personal property; Rhode Island and Providence Plantations: personal property worth £40 or yielding 50 shillings annually; South Carolina: one-hundred acres of land on which taxes were paid; or a townhouse or lot worth £60 on which taxes were paid; or payment of 10 shillings in taxes; Virginia: fifty acres of vacant land, twenty-five acres of cultivated land, and a house twelve feet by twelve feet; or a town lot and a house twelve feet by twelve.

The only voters determining the direction of our country were the wealthy white men who founded the country. These affluent Caucasians ran Eighteenth-century America as they desired with no regard to the common folk. Commoners fought in the American Revolution but returned home ostracized from the voting process. Only those enfranchised by wealth could vote for most of our Republic's early years; minor modifications left women and non-whites out of the picture.

The American suffrage movement's history looks like a gnarly old cedar tree in a forest of white oaks. For every change that benefitted the disenfranchised, the enfranchised moved to block a population's subsegment granted voting privilege. Today, voter suppression continues in creative but significant ways. Examples are States that only allow voting on one specific day or restrict the counting of mail-in ballots to those in the Secretary of State office's hands by poll closing. On the other hand, some States have expanded to encourage early voting and counting mail-in votes up to seventeen days post-election day as long as the ballot was postmarked by the polls' conclusion on said day. The central theme associated with the right to vote is State Legislative Bodies control the right to expand or deny an individual's right to vote. I know there is a federal voter's rights act; it does not protect us from the tyranny of State Legislatures to deny access to the voting booth.

We are not a real democracy because we do not share equal power to determine our country's fate. Historically prosperous Republics have a homogenous population whose representatives to the government think and act according to their constituencies. The wealthy white men who found the United States were similar in economic standing, birthplace, and educational background. In eighteen century America, around 80% of men and 50% of women in New England were literate. The combined rate rose to 75% at the turn of the eighteenth century.

The U.S. literacy rate for 2018 was 99.00% for both males and females. In the original colonies and states, governmental authorities argued that the commoners were uneducated and could not read or comprehend government complexities; however, they could lose their lives in warfighting for the wealthy land barons who wished to secede from Britain. Someone told me in my office that our population's literacy rate was far less than it was in the eighteenth century, suggesting that our citizens are unable to understand the Constitution and its ramifications. Facts are more important than propaganda, regardless of the intent. Our citizens are far more literate than those of 1776.

From my perspective, healthcare is rapidly eroding. It's not the cost of the care; it's the quality of the care. Healthcare is considered a right by some and a privilege by others.

In the throes of a pandemic, no one should consider changing or eliminating the Affordable Healthcare Act. Those who wish to repeal the Act have yet to disclose a solution in its place. I vote to leave the Act stand. Give the public a much higher quality solution, one that is more cost-effective, and ask all of us to vote for it. There is only one way to vote for it presently, vote for a U.S. Senator and a U.S. Congressperson in our State and U.S. District who supports keeping the Act. I'm sorry, there is no such person available to me. There is no avenue to express my opinion other than leaving the State and finding a pleasant place with my beliefs.

Our State is held captive by old money and family ties who restrict its economic growth to maintain control of the vote. There is no coalition in Tennessee to demand that all people be represented in the Statehouse. From my vantage point, I see our State executing the U.S. Constitution's original intent: to reward the enfranchised with power and wealth and maintain the status quo of the disenfranchised.

Thank goodness we have early voting in Tennessee. I hope everyone took the opportunity to vote since it continues to be a hard-fought battle to make a positive change in healthcare, but not as hard as to keep everyone with the privilege to vote voting.


Posted by Caitlin Chittom at 9:26 AM
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