This is not to say that voting is the end-all, be-all of democracy. Voting doesn't solve every problem. Sometimes those leaders we choose turn out to be flam-flam artists, unprincipled, corrupt, stupid, bloodthirsty, or just folks who have managed to wangle themselves a lucrative sinecure. Everybody can come up with his or her own examples. Even many of the good leaders, the honest, well-intentioned, highly principled, forward-thinking politicians, disappoint us in various ways.
Nobody ever said our system isn't flawed, that it doesn't need adjusting or some more transformative change. But while the struggles to make those adjustments or transform how we govern ourselves always begin outside the electoral system—inside the hearts of reformers and "in the streets"—voting is crucial to making those changes. Every reform in U.S. history has started outside the legislatures and executive branches of the state and federal governments. But all that succeeded were also confirmed by elected representatives of the people.
Some people know full well how important the right to vote is. Spurred by groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council, they've been working assiduously to suppress the vote, specifically the vote of people without political clout—young people, people of color, low-income people. People who tend to vote Democratic. In South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Texas and elsewhere, their goal is always the same: to keep such people from going to the polls by putting obstacles in their way. Not as brazen as in Jim Crow days, to be sure. More clever than that. But with similar impact.
And calling their subterfuge no big deal.
But, like the legislator in Pennsylvania who said the highly restrictive voter-ID law would swing the election into the Mitt Romney column, they know it is a big deal. Making it difficult to vote for just a few percentage points of citizens in a few swing states could mean the difference of who sits in the White House come 2013. Not to mention the impact on state legislatures and Congress. They know this. It is their purpose even as they smile as say "What me, suppress?"
Citizen advocates have been fighting this voter suppression in the courts and by working hard to ensure that people are registered and have the proper identification so their ballots will be counted.
Tuesday, Sept. 25, has been designated National Voter Registration Day as a way to bring more attention to the subject. You can find registration events taking place across the country by clicking here and plugging in your ZIP Code.
It's a good time to take stock of your personal situation. Are you registered? Are you sure? I moved recently and used California's new on-line registration procedure to change my address so I will be able to walk two blocks to my new precinct's polling station and cast my ballot on Nov. 6 without any hang-ups. I could have asked for one of the state's no-questions-asked absentee ballots, but I prefer to queue up with other voters. However you choose to cast your ballot, however your state allows you to do so, make sure you are set to go even if you have been voting for decades, as I have.
With this little widget, you can fill out a registration form, print it off and mail it in ... or, if you're lucky enough to be in a state where you can register online, as I am, it will take you directly to your secretary of state's website. Do it now! And share it with family and friends. Remember, as Rep. John Lewis said, voting is "the most powerful, nonviolent tool we have to create a more perfect union."
If you have time to donate, join a voter registration group and volunteer to help. The list at the link above contains numerous groups in your area to choose from. Time is short. Deadlines for cutting off registration are fast approaching in most states.
We need public officials in office whose objective is to go out of their way to ensure that everyone who wants to vote gets to do so. Those who throw up obstacles, especially obstacles with a partisan impact, in the way of citizens exercising a constitutional right—a right that racist murderers have tried to destroy within living memory—need to return to the private sector. There is only one way to replace these undemocratic officials and that is to vote them out. Can't do that without completing the first step and making sure everyone you know who agrees in this matter is also registered.
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2011—Warren Buffett made his tax return public last month
So yesterday, Sen. John Cornyn and other Republicans were very smug about their latest crassgotcha scheme, demanding Warren Buffett release his tax records (not caring or believing that the Tax Policy Center has backed up the possibility that Buffett's secretary could indeed pay more in taxes than he does).
So here's the thing. Warren Buffett has already made his tax return public.
Appearing on Charlie Rose last month, the billionaire investor brought his tax return along to prove his point about the Buffett Rule, which has become the centerpiece of President Obama's new plan to raise taxes on the super-rich.
A group of Republicans on Capitol Hill is calling on Buffett to release his tax return to the public, to prove whether or not he actually pays a lower percentage in tax than his secretary. Buffett made no secret of the numbers to Rose, and explained how the income breakdown works.
From 9.am. to noon ET, Daily Kos Radio can be found here. Friday's Kagro in the Morning show reviewed coverage from the Senate debates in Massachusetts and Virginia, and talked polling & punditry trends with Greg Dworkin. From there, it's another extended connect-the-dots session pulling in the "fiscal cliff," the old "Super Committee," Blue Dogs and their dwindling influence, the stimulus plan vote, and Kent Conrad's commitment to the Zombie Simpson-Bowles "report."