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May 1, 2014

PUBLIC FORUM: Learning the value of free speech

Learning the valueof free speech

The 18th century philosopher, Jean Jaques Rousseau, declared that in a representative democracy the people lose control of their representatives between elections, during which interim they are in chains. Recent voter registration laws and Supreme Court decisions are casting those chains in America, and by judicial fiat they will be permanent.

New laws that propose to protect the electoral system from fraud force citizens to prove their eligibility for a right that was once inalienable, and the high court has gutted provisions in the Voting Rights Act that protected citizens from discrimination in the once rebellious states. The court concluded it was unconstitutional to require a small block of states to prove their equality of access to the polls, as if racism has died. The obstinacy and disrespect Congress has shown our president confirms the racial card remains in the deck. If anything the requirements of the Voting Rights Act should have been expanded to validate the records of all 50 states. The question of unfairness would be resolved in favor of the people.

It’s hard to believe our supreme justices are predominately conservative by their liberal verdicts in the cases of Citizens United and McCutcheon against the FEC. First they ruled money a form of free speech, and subsequently reasoned, if so, it must be as unbridled as the words we speak. Their narrow definition of corruption would require a person to hand their legislator a check, and affirm it the price of his vote. Campaign finance laws were written by the very people the system benefits, and screening indirect bribery is like filtering water through a colander. The court must be blind, or assumes we are.

Money has been a part of American politics for a long time; too long in my opinion. Its unrestrained role gives special access to the gates of governance for a powerful minority, and funds political advertisements that consign us to cast our votes by the impetus of emotion rather than sound reason. Too many citizens have become so discouraged they no longer participate, and democracy is becoming a sham.

The First Amendment will now speak the language of currency, and the voice of the majority, who cannot afford such profanity, will be obscured by the rattling of coins.

Jeffery W. Wiseley

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