DrugSense Weekly, December 8, 2000 #177

DrugSense Weekly, December 8, 2000 #177
Posted by FoM on December 08, 2000 at 15:06:56 PT
Why Over 200,000 African-Americans Could Not Vote 
Source: DrugSense
While charges fly over the handful of votes that will declare our next president, there is scant commentary about the 647,100 U.S. citizens who were denied the right to vote in Florida in the last and still contested election. Our fierce belief in the unalienable right of citizens to select their own leaders is one of the great hallmarks of American Democracy. And, like many noble visions, it has taken a lot of sacrifice and courage to bring that vision forth. 
Since the American Revolution our small tent of democracy has steadily grown. Granted at first solely to the white male Founders, the vote has since been extended to former slaves, Native Americans, women, the less literate, the landless, the poor, and others initially denied citizen enfranchisement. In Florida today, however, over 5 percent of the adult population are not allowed to vote. This largely covert repeal of suffrage rights includes roughly one-in-three African-American men. Florida undercuts their constituency more severely than any other state. Following Governor Jeb Bush 's Florida, Governor George Bush's Texas has the nation's second largest group of disenfranchised voters. Between these two states alone, over 1.2 million citizens, including more than a 1/3 of a million African Americans, are banned from the voting booth because of felony convictions on their records, most for small quantity drug crimes.Disenfranchisement practices, like sentencing guidelines, vary widely from state to state. Some citizens regain their right to vote in time, but in Florida many lose that unique herald of democracy for life. In many states even felons only sentenced to probation or those honorably discharged from parole can be stripped of their civil rights. The American Revolution was fought over similar injustices perpetrated against the "unrepresented" colonial subjects of King George. Nationwide, almost 4 million adults today, a third of them African-Americans, are subjected to this statutory gerrymandering. Many elections are decided by smaller margins. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall noted that disenfranchisement laws originated, "in the fogs and fictions of feudal jurisprudence." But most of us imagine that 21st century American Justice could evolve beyond the European norms of the Middle Ages. Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist observes that, historically, these laws were deliberately "enacted with the intent of disenfranchising blacks." Given that most African-Americans voted Democratic in the last election, the face of American politics would dramatically shift were these barriers to voter participation finally torn down. We are the only industrial democracy to disenfranchise massive voting blocks from the electorate. Rather than leading the free world today, we now trail it by a shocking distance on this account. The few nations that do practice voter disenfranchisement do so only toward those few who, through acts of terrorism, treason or other such crimes, demonstrate contempt for the democratic process itself. South Africa, for example, another nation with a troubled history of black and white race relations, does not deny the vote to felons or even to incarcerated prisoners. By comparison, it seems grotesque to sentence an American youth caught with fifteen dollars worth of drugs to lifelong exile from a participatory government. The practice of disenfranchisement does not encourage the marginalized to ever embrace the system or attempt to work within it. If anything, it breeds contempt for the law and cynicism about our capacity for justice and a truly representative democracy. Let us resolve to do something before the next election to restore our nation to one in which the people, all the people, decide who will rule and how. (Statistical sources for this article include: The Human Rights Watch; The Sentencing Project and The ACLU).Complete Title: Why Over 200,000 African-Americans Could Not Vote in FloridaBy Aaron KipnisBox 4782Santa Barbara, CA. 93140Dr. Aaron Kipnis is a psychology professor in Santa Barbara and author of, "Angry Young Men: How Parents, Teachers, and Counselors Can Help 'Bad Boys' Become Good Men." For more information please visit: Phone: 805-963-8285 NOTE: The article below reflects the views of Mr. Aaron Kipnis and does not necessarily reflect the views of DrugSense, MAP or its board of directors or membership.Click the link to read all of DrugSense Weekly's News Bulletin.DrugSense Weekly, December 8, 2000 #177 Articles:Drug-War Hurt Gore in Florida Democracy CannabisNews MapInc. Archives
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Comment #3 posted by defenderoffreeworld on December 09, 2000 at 11:37:00 PT:
one question?
maybe someone might be able to answer it. why is it that a person who uses drugs is not allowed to vote by the u.s. government? i mean, what foundations do they have to make this ruling? it would be funny if we actually were able to hear them in their law making process, just to hear what they have to say. however, its funny when the unjust laws that they make in order to target minorities and low income people come back to haunt them a few years later, causing them to lose the election. 
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Comment #2 posted by dddd on December 09, 2000 at 01:37:22 PT
 I do believe I will join FreedomLvr in barfing.It is really disgusting to realize how dimented,and deranged our ,supposed to be,"Constitutional Republic" has become. As long as we are on the subject of terms that make us wanna blow groceries,one of my favorite one to hurl to,is when politicians use the term;"the American people",,,as if they had anything to do with The American People. The only good thing about puking though,is that you might feel a bit better,,in spite of everything remaining the same.........most peculiar.....indeed
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Comment #1 posted by FreedomLvr on December 08, 2000 at 21:05:24 PT
Democracy, Shmocracy.....
If I hear that this country is a democracy one more time I'm going to puke!!! The word democracy is nowhere in the Constitution. Is it too hard for people to say Constitutional Republic, and know what it means?
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