Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Happy Ratification Day!

Today, Monday, Jan. 14th is our Ratification Day; the day the Continental Congress approved the Treaty of Paris with Great Britan, ending the Revolutionary War, and legally establishing the 13 colonies as the United States of America.  Not the same as July 4th, but a much more significant day in our history than the attention it isn’t given.
So how far have we come this “greatest nation in the world?”
Well, let’s remember our democracy in 1784, a truly radical experiment, was a work in progress.
Each MAN was created equal, we told the world, thanks to Tom Paine and John Adams, and Tom Jefferson, and it was “man.”  Women didn’t vote. Blacks, even “3/5ths” of them didn’t vote. Not all white men voted; in many states/colonies you had to have “property” to vote.  “Indentured servants” (remember them?) didn’t vote. Sharecroppers didn’t vote, and, I hate to remind you, in some colonies certain religions couldn’t vote. (Those notorious Quakers among others, those quiet, most peaceful people you could find, yup, no voting for them.)
Well, OK, property requirements to vote soon fell away; so did religious tests. but it took 150 years for women to get the vote. (And by one male vote, BTW, in the last state to ratify, Tennessee.) Looking back from our wisdom of today, how in the world did that happen?  150 years!!!
And, I submit, blacks still are not 100% free to vote given the restrictions imposed by some states still, though not always Southern. And by attempts, by both parties, to gerrymander every election district they can get away with.
And as to Hispanics (the “black man” of today,) they are often found fighting to secure the vote.
(I won’t even go into what we did to American-born, Japanese citizens during WW2.)

And BTW, every person who fought for the Colonies in our Revolutionary War---every single one of them---was an immigrant. Please think about that when you hear calls to shut our borders, or make entry much more difficult, to those fleeing oppression or who seek a new life in our land---as those who fought in 1776 so often did.
All of this by way of both saluting Ratification Day, and reminding us that America is still a work in progress; a work that calls us to keep trying to live up to what the Declaration of Independence promised.
We could start by eliminating the Electoral college, which makes one Kentuckian’s vote NOT equal to the vote cast next door in Ohio, or Indiana, or Tennessee. We could demand the House (and especially the Senate) reform their  rules so that one man, even if he is a Kentuckian, can  not block new laws by refusing to bring them up for a vote. (Remember, before that one man was a Kentuckian, he was a Nevadan, and he will be again.)
We can overturn the Citizens United Decision of the Supreme Court which said that MONEY is free speech, and that while I am not a corporation, a corporation is me, a person entitled to the freedoms of every American citizen, including spending secret billions to elect people as our last few elections have actually done.
Yes, on this Ratification Day, we Americans have a lot to be thankful for, and a very lot to do to truly make this “a more perfect union” and the “greatest country in the world.”
Let’s have at it!

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