First off, I am very proud to be an American. However, I am tired of the hypocrisy involved in being one. We, as a nation, enjoy telling others what to do, but it is time for us to take a look at what is going on here in the United States.
The U.S. wants elections in the Middle East to be transparent and free for all, but we aren’t even close to having those ourselves. This nation is over 228 years old and women were not allowed to vote until 1920, 144 years after the nation came into existence and two years after Kyrgyzstan allowed women to vote. Kyrgyzstan! In 1866 the Civil Rights Bill was passed in Congress and gave blacks full citizenship, but we all know that did not happen regarding voting until the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965. Blacks were allowed to vote 189 years after we became a nation. God bless America.
In the last presidential election many former felons were disenfranchised, and the list was disproportionately black, though their rights were legally restored before the list was printed. International observers chastised Florida and the U.S. for the way in which the recount took place and are predicting even more problems this year because of faulty machinery, intimidation of minorities and the elderly, and disenfranchisement of a few more felons. We would expect a nation with democratically elected officials to be able to figure out a simple problem over four years, but this has not happened.
There was another felon list used by Gov. Jeb Bush to strike voters off the register this year, and the only reason we know anything about it is because a judge ordered that it be released to avoid more mistakes and embarrassment.
There is a legal system felons have to go through to make certain that their rights are restored. First they have to find out if they are on the voting list in the first place and then go through the arduous task of having their rights returned through a system that does not favor them because, in the U.S., our legal system is not fair for all. I break it down into three categories: Rich/poor, white/nonwhite and famous/anonymous. Individuals may be in more than one of these groups but because they are felons, there are two strikes against them: They are not white and probably poor.
I say before we decide to tell another group of people how they should be more like America, maybe we should actually try to live up to the ideal America all of us would like to live in.
Vontilla Steven can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.