Citizenship is at the bedrock of Scouting. One of our aims is developing citizenship in our youth, who pledge “on my honor” to do their duty to country.
One of the most fundamental aspects of citizenship in America is that we elect our leaders and representatives to govern us. Voting is a sacred right accorded to every citizen over the age of eighteen. It is a right that the founding fathers enshrined in the Constitution and that our citizens have fought and died for the right to preserve. Over the years, protections for classes of citizens have been enacted to ensure that all citizens can vote:
- The Fifteenth Amendment gave the former slaves and all persons of color the right to vote after the Fourteenth Amendment made them citizens.
- The Nineteenth Amendment ensured that women had the right to vote.
- The Twenty-Fourth Amendment banned the poll tax, which disenfranchised poorer Americans.
- The Twenty-Sixth Amendment gave 18-year-olds the vote.
- The Voting Rights Act put teeth in the 15th Amendment and established oversight over states that habitually violated it.
To look at our republic today, it’s as if all of the above is being eroded away.
Courts are eviscerating these hard-fought protections. Politicians are gaming the system to disenfranchise some voters by requiring exotic, hard-to-get forms of identification, by effectively selecting which voters they want to vote by drawing bizarre district lines to group minority voters into fewer districts, by making polling places inconvenient or inefficient, and by plain old intimidation – scaring voters into believing there will be repercussions if they exercise their right to vote – all on the likelihood that they will benefit by fewer people voting.
What happened to honor?
What’s gotten into these people we call “representatives?”
One has to wonder if any of them were ever Scouts, and if they were, what happened to the values of the Scout Oath and the Scout Law that were once instilled in them?
What do we tell our children?
Image: Steven A. Nichols / Flickr Creative Commons