Bernie Sanders recently said that the “I think the right to vote is inherent to our democracy, yes, even for terrible people.”
Now, I don’t think that Bernie Sanders is the sharpest knife in the drawer, but why would anyone place this right ahead of all others?
The founders recognized at least three rights which we earned simply by being born with 26 human chromosomes: Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
We can take away a person’s freedom and lock them up (“liberty.”) We can take away someone’s right to follow their dreams by placing them in prisons and restricting their activities (“pursuit of happiness,”) and yes, we can even take their lives for some terrible transgressions and for the defense of society.
However, they never lose their right to vote? Why? It doesn’t make sense, that is, not until you realize that votes are a politician’s lifeblood.
By trying to follow such logic we get a glimpse into the mind of the typical, life-long, professional politician. Twist any logic, disregard any fact, ignore any reality, but don’t do anything to lose one vote. And Sen. Sanders, who may project the persona of a doddering old fool proffering ultra-egalitarianism and limitless altruism with OPM, is anything but, when it comes to the mechanics of getting elected. It is purely enlightened self-interest.
He knows that he and his party would have enormous support in the prison population. A large prison in a small county can change an area from deep red to bright blue and might even swing a state or two.
I wonder how Bernie would feel about criminals voting if they all entered prison carrying their own dogeared copy of “Atlas Shrugged” and wearing MAGA hats?
Nicholas Malino is a founding member of the Progressive Conservative Alliance and chairman of the Conservative Party of Connecticut. He is Managing Member of Tango Research, LLC a hedge fund in CT and NY. He has two books published on financial subjects.
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Having just been through decades of mass incarceration, something both Republicans and Democrats favored at one time and now realize was terrible policy, we need to readjust our lenses. Prisoners do have human rights—not just three, but all of the Bill of Rights. Voting was left up to the states in the Constitution. Just as outside of prison people with varying ideas, morals, and personalities get to vote, so it would be if prisoners could vote. Prisoners have a stake in our laws and who makes them, and perhaps if millions of black men (those most affected by mass incarceration) had not also been disenfranchised, the policy would not have lasted so long. Voting is the essence of our republic. It’s in Article I of the Constitution. The Founders did indeed privilege it. Over the centuries voting rights have expanded. It is wrong to go in the other direction.
I see that the knives – sharp and dull – are out against Bernie Sanders. I agree wholeheartedly with with Kathy Hermes and her rationale, every citizen should have the right to vote. The restrictions being imposed on voting in various states in the U.S. are a sad commentary on the state of the Republic and I think the founders would be turning over in their graves to see how the Constitution is being misused. and abused. Perhaps a more measured approach and less name calling might be appropriate?
If a citizen cannot lose the right to vote, then it would follow that we also have no right to deprive a citizen of his/her liberty. If we cannot take away the right to vote we then have no justification for incarcerating them.
Remember in Stratford during the last election? 76 people voted on the wrong ballots, but only one noticed it. 75 out of 76 people didn’t know who their state rep was and possibly their state senator. If these people are too lazy or careless that they are not even going to bother to know who is running then the reponsible thing to do is stay home.
We throw the word “right” around like it is an entitlement like breathing, but no one ever mentions that rights come with “responsibilities”, and so we ignore the responsibilities and everybody has inalienable rights but no responsibilities, not even a responsibility to respect the laws, and not to kill other people. That’s the “sad commentary.”
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