The “Good Old Days” and Voting Rights

As I keep hearing those crying “No no!” to change, and asking for a return to the good old days, I have to think back to those who worked so hard to bring about changes in the past; now considered the norm.

The American Revolution, contrary to popular belief, was not fought for the Constitution, nor for democracy. The end of the war resulted in the Articles of Confederation, and citizens still were limited in what they had a say in.

Even when the Constitution came along, voting was limited to white males who held certain amounts of land or property, which varied by state. But even these limited voters could not choose their senators; the legislature held that right.

John Adams once wrote, “Depend upon it, Sir, it is dangerous to open so fruitful a source of controversy and altercation as would be opened by attempting to alter the qualifications of voters; there would be no end of it. New claims will arise; women will demand the vote; lads from 12 to 21 will think their rights not enough attended to; and every man who has not a farthing, will demand an equal voice with any other, in all acts of state. It tends to confound and destroy all distinctions, and prostrate all ranks to one common level.”

Well God forbid! And this was written in 1776! (Glad he didn’t mention it to the troops doing the actual fighting. The American Revolution was a naked power grab, just like most revolutions).

Over time, these elitist tendencies were broken down one by one. Andrew Jackson helped to spread the idea of universal male suffrage, and was hated and slandered by the opposition for it. It opened the flood gates of representation in this great nation. Poor whites, women, blacks, Indians, and all non felon citizens can vote.

We now consider this revolutionary idea “normal”, and the opposite radical. Funny how things become the standard over time.

Sadly, these ideas are not universal. The reactionary forces try ever new clever ways to mask their intentions. I heard a man the other day expounding on how voting should go back to when the constitution was written. All those of you who would be excluded again, please take note.


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