"Voting Machine Isolated in White", via clsgraphics, ThinkStock.
"Voting Machine Isolated in White", via clsgraphics, ThinkStock.
“Voting Machine Isolated in White”, via clsgraphics, ThinkStock.

It’s hard to miss the coincidence: those who want to limit voting hours and demand stricter voter ID protocols also believe that corporations are people. They want to control women’s bodies, and pay them less than men. They’re against higher taxes for the wealthy, and they want to do away with consumer protections. And make no mistake about it, this is a consumer issue.

Are they racist and ageist when it comes to voting? Of course they are. Are they sexist when it comes to women? You betcha! Are they swayed by corporate-financed message machines like the Tea Party and conservative media? And how.

They say “We built that!” They pretend everything was fine till those government people got in power. Big business was doing a peachy job providing credit, making loads of money on exotic loans, and pumping up their coffers with the spoils of mortgage securitization. It was survival of the morally challenged. A land where you could succeed by taking over a company, isolating the good parts, excising the bad, eliminating all of those “pesky” workers, outsourcing their jobs to folks you didn’t know — and about whom you didn’t care — selling off the solid assets, and then moving on to the next victim all the while chiding the hordes of jobless people you created for lack of initiative.

The big difference is that the events I’m describing are facts — not the echo chamber factoids created especially for the body snatcher-like conservative news market where a “fact” is something people want to hear uttered by a neo-con talking head reading corporate-sponsored research on what Americans fear most, easily repeated by true believers, and then pointed to as though it were reality — because, you know, “It’s a fact.” But here’s the kicker: feelings aren’t facts.

My entire life, the lament has been the same: citizens of the freest nation in the world take their freedoms for granted. They don’t vote. Populations of less fortunate nations have had radically higher voting turnout, and the reason is we’ve become too accustomed to bread and circuses. We are fat and happy, and a little lazy. And this is how bad things like the great financial disaster of 2007-2008 happen to a good country.

What sort of government allows corporations to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to influence or scare voters? A free one. But great dreams bring greater responsibility. When tougher voter identification laws, purportedly passed to dissuade fraudulent balloting are passed where there has been no perceptible uptick in voter fraud, it’s time to do the responsible thing and ask why. When Republican governors go out of their way to make it more difficult to vote in areas where there are large concentrations of poor, minority, and senior voters, it’s our responsibility to ask why. Or if you can guess why, then it’s your responsibility to act responsibly and not only vote, but help get the vote out where it’s being manipulated by partisan propaganda.

It’s pretty simple: If you want to add billions to the military, money it neither wants nor needs because doing so will give mega-government contractors a slush fund for weapons systems that won’t actually defend us, then you should stay home and not vote. And if you’re interested in firing the defenders of the American consumer, like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, you should definitely sit this one out. Tea Party candidates are more than ready to make the federal government small enough for corporations to run it off the road. We can put even more power into the hands of states and private businesses that have led the charge against women’s rights and voter rights and who want to cut every major program designed to help the less fortunate in our society so that the one tenth of 1% can pay less taxes.

Sound good? Let’s take it a little further. Don’t vote, so we can ignore anyone who looks at our crumbling infrastructure, suggests a model for the future and asks, “Why can’t we build that?”
The conservatives hate Dodd-Frank and the CFPB, which are designed to root out irresponsible and/or predatory practices — especially during times like these, when consumers and legitimate business are at their most vulnerable. The GOP is on a crusade to wipe out organizations like FEMA and programs that assist those who are naked to the whirlwinds of vicious storms or a turbulent economy. Using the Lord as their foil, Tea Party candidates will put women back into the Stone Age.

After the Great Depression, this nation pulled together and developed programs to help communities and consumers face what appeared to be a very bleak and uncertain future. It worked — in fact, it worked fairly well for more than fifty years.

Then we forgot the lessons about how a government can work to rebuild crumbling infrastructure, reform Wild-West business practices, and help those in need. And then along came Rupert Murdoch and the Koch Brothers and everything in between. The waters of change rose and carried the boats of millions of American citizens with it. Over the years, big business got its way, and the power brokers saw their influence rise to such a point that even when they weren’t in power, they were able to exert enough pressure to stop the democratic process dead when anything was suggested that didn’t fit into their agenda.

They now see the path to another El Dorado and, through a variety of means, are pursuing a course to “change” America back to the way things were under prior conservative fellow travelers. A big key to that is killing voter turnout.

November 6 can be a watershed or a slippery slope leading to a very steep cliff. I pray that enough people can fight their way into the ballot box to stop the erosion of consumer, gender, and human rights, which is raising its ugly head and waiting for us just around the corner.

Originally posted at the Huffington Post.