Tomorrow we will celebrate the most famous protest in the history of our country. The founders of our country tried in vain for years to reason with a government that had little incentive to listen to them, had lost touch with the people here and no longer represented their best interests. The colonists started with peaceful letters and requests. When these went unanswered, the people resorted to more drastic measures, such as the Boston Tea Party. Left with no other recourse, the Declaration of Independence was ratified on July 4, 1776, leading to seven years of revolutionary war.
The brave Americans who fought and died in the American Revolution did not sacrifice because of a strong aversion to being British. They fought because they refused to be excluded from representation by their government. The U.S. Constitution sought to ensure that the government would never become disconnected from the people again. The radical American experiment was that the government for the people should be a government whose power comes from the people. It provides a tool to prevent the government from tyranny more powerful than a musket or cannon… the ballot box.
During our country’s first elections, a small percentage of citizens were eligible to vote. Over the years disenfranchised groups sought to change those eligibility requirements. Over time some restrictions were chipped away. These victories were not easy. This year marks the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. Women worked tirelessly for the right to vote. Even when threatened with the prospects of financial ruin, jail or even death they persevered. Finally, in 1920 they prevailed nearly 150 years after the Declaration of Independence.
The point? The march to the ballot box has been long and paved in the blood, sweat and tears of those who came before us. The work is not done. There are many states in which the right to vote is still being restricted through various rules and requirements. These rules often disproportionally affect Native Americans, Blacks, Latinxs and the poor.