From the Editor

Laboring for a right to vote

It’s Labor Day, and I am sitting at my work station, writing an editorial. I start by wondering what my ancestors would think about dishonoring this holiday commemorating workers who fought for time off.

Then I read a story that makes my blood boil. I now don’t mind being at work, and change the topic of this piece.

Matthew Vadum, a Capital Research Center columnist, argued that poor people, like those who labor below livable wages, should not be allowed to register to vote. After all, they can’t be trusted not to vote for their narrow self-interest. “Registering [poor people] to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals,” he offers.

Bob Hulteen

I was reminded of recent statements by Judson Phillips, founder of the Tea Party Nation, saying only “propertied people” should have the option to vote. He wrote, “If you’re a property owner, you actually have a vested stake in the community,” presumably unlike those who don’t own property.

One of the most offensive realities of this perspective is that people who look like our president, the man Phillips so wants to replace, were themselves property only a few generations ago, and would have qualified their owners to vote.

Now, I try to let anyone have their own opinion. But, when quotes like these start to look like talking points for a movement, I get a little excited.

Why now?

What is going on? Why would individuals start to make declarations about limiting the number of people with access to the ballot? Why should only people who own property or make large salaries be able to exercise their stake in the future by participating in elections?

I suppose that some comments can be explained by the slippery slope. Once the door is opened with news about efforts to require photo IDs to vote, thus disenfranchising a segment of the electorate, it is easier to target other groups that one might prefer not to contend with. If we don’t like what someone’s work is, or what they do with their salary, we can just take away their voice via the vote.

This cuts in the face of Martin Luther’s vision of call and vocation. Whatever we do, we do through God’s grace and for God’s glory. That’s our vocation. Life’s circumstance should therefore not determine whether we have the right to contribute in the social order by participating in the electoral process.

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