Carlyle Fielding Stewart III

Writings on Democracy, Social Justice, and Religion

“Beware of Rule Changes.”

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I have learned that life is not always fair. Your opponents will sometimes use every measure possible to gain and maintain the competitive advantage over you. Rule changes are part of the game and often range from the sublime to the ridiculous.

As I survey the landscape of the upcoming elections, I am astounded at how voting rights are being jimmied by certain Tea Party Republicans to keep the competitive edge over minorities who traditionally vote Democrat. I am astonished at the seemingly blatant and almost desperate nature of these changes. It is one thing to transform the rules of dunking in college hoops with the emergence of the great Lew Alcindor later known as Kareem Abdul Jabbar. It is another thing to transform the rules of the political game by stifling people’s access to voting in such an “in your face,” sort of way. Few things are as flagrant as such rule changes in our democracy today.

I don’t mean to sound crass, but some Republicans may believe they are justified in these attempts because of the “browning of the electorate.” So rather than strenuously and painstakingly “chocolatize” the party with more so-called minorities, it is easier to maintain its mostly “vanilla” color and flavoring.

Instead of developing creative blueprints to appeal more readily to women and minority groups which would endear the GOP to them, other strategies like suppressing the vote are chosen instead.

Friends let me remind you that suppressing or repressing anything does not work in the long run. Such gambits eventually peter out and leave in their wake a trail of misery and tears that could be easily avoided if more creative and compassionate minded decisions prevailed. Such stratagems only embolden people and make them even more determined to exercise their hard-earned rights.

Moreover, with all the intellectual capital and material capital at the command of Republicans why not just stop for a moment and ask some basic questions. “Why are we attacking people’s right to vote? Why are we changing the rules? Why are we making it harder for them to get to the polls? Isn’t there a more creative way of gaining the competitive advantage? Can’t we devise other more ingenious strategies that will win them over rather than boxing them out, ticking them off and beating them down? Won’t such rule changes only drive further a sword through the heart of our democracy? Why must we always find ways to take things away from people, especially black folks and other folks; to deprive them of the measures of dignity and livelihood they have left?

The tactics and strategies employed in this game are not only disturbing but offensive to people who love this country and have worked hard to save and prosper it. An assault on voting privileges and rights in America is not only reprehensible but borders on the diabolical.

It is a sad day in America when the right to vote is curtailed and thwarted by narrow-minded, short-sighted and bigoted people who care nothing about the harm and shame they are bringing to America by this whole process. Do you mean to tell us that after all of these years, we still have to deal with these issues? We still have to fight for our basic rights such as breathing clean air to knowing what’s in our food to accessing the polls to vote?

Such short-term strategies may be palatable for some but appalling to others especially when considering the history of sacrifices and struggle that many minorities and women have painfully and inexhaustibly made to obtain their full rights in this country.

Men and women of every persuasion, color, religion and hue have advocated democracy and stood by America in the various cauldrons of challenge and change over the years.

Too many people black and white, male and female and many other people of every ethnic and racial group in America have paid the ultimate price to preserve our constitutional republic. Voting plays a critically quintessential role in the perpetuation of those democratic tenets and ideals.

From the American Revolution to the Civil War. From Women’s suffrage to Civil and Human Rights, each era of American history has been punctuated by the cries for freedom, justice and equality for all Americans. This begins with the right to freely cast a ballot for a candidate of choice.

We have come too far and worked and bled too long to throw it all away with such abrasive and offensive rule changes.

Voting is sacred in Democracy. It is one sure way of ensuring the voice of the people. To sequester and stymie access to the ballot box by shortening voting hours for many people who cannot get to the polls during normal hours adds insult to injury. If anything, voting hours should be lengthened with opportunities to vote amplified, magnified and clarified as much as humanly possible.

Changing the rules to gain the competitive advantage is nothing new in history. The problem is how these rule changes do not benefit all Americans, but a select few, whose principal aim is to wield and solidify power for themselves and their special interest groups. History has proven that such efforts spell the beginning of the end, which often opens the floodgates of despotism and eventually crush the spirit and soul of democracy and all liberty loving people!

More creative ways of including people in democracy and not shutting them out should be deployed.

When the right to vote is stifled in such a willful and blatant manner, it may be a matter of time before other rights are repealed. Then we may lose all together one of the greatest democracies in the history of humankind.

Shame on us if it comes to this.

God forbid and help us if we keep doing this.

Without a vote there is no voice. Without the voice of the people there is no free America.

Beware of those who change the rules for their own competitive advantage.

For one group does not a country make.

One interest does not a nation make.

But one vote does a difference make in a country that has made a great difference for its people and the world.

To paraphrase Dr.Martin Luther King Jr, ” A threat to voting anywhere is a threat to Democracy everywhere.”

To paraphrase scripture, “What profits a person if he should suppress the vote and lose his own soul and the soul of his beloved country?”

What profits persons if they would gain the advantage for the few while putting at disadvantage the many?

Whatever rule changes are made should help strengthen all America.

Therefore, let us discern and develop more creative and sustainable methods of winning the game rather than rigging the game with rule changes.

Let us make rule changes that will help us “cement the things that unite us and surmount the things that divide us.”

Don’t suppress the vote!

If anything should be suppressed let it be the indignities and calamities that make such a lack of compassion and its culture of permissiveness still flourish in a country still struggling to realize its true democratic potential and power.

Voting is to Democracy what air is to breathing!

Let democracy in our country breathe and grow and spread its arms and widen its embrace.

Don’t suffocate democracy by suppressing its right to “breathe” by impeding the power of freedom loving people to vote in all present and future elections!

Beware of rule changes and those who change the rules for their own competitive advantage.

It may be good for them, but in the end is not good for America!

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