November 14, 2006

Death Row Tea Party

It’s Election Day and I’m pissed. For the last couple of months I’ve had to put up with listening to all these political ads on the T.V. and radio. This has been an especially nasty Election Year, as the mudslinging has gotten worse with each election. Today’s politicians don’t campaign on the issues but rather run for office by convincing potential voters that the person running against them is corrupt – but they’re all corrupt.

What really gets me though, is that I’m one of millions of American citizens that are legally prohibited from voting. Think about it for just a minute … the one defining act that led to our so-called Constitutional Democracy, that one act of defiance against the crown that brought our forefathers down the path of independence was the Boston Tea Party.
For those of us who smoked just a little too much dope during our high school years, that’s when a small group of insurgents decided they were tired of the English imposing high taxes on the American Colonies and decided to dress up like “savages” (American Natives) and jump on a ship in the Boston Harbor and destroy the tea shipped from England by dumping it into the salt water.

Today we call them patriots, true revolutionaries, and the forefathers of our freedoms. But in their day the ruling government at the time labeled them “insurgents” and charged them with treason.

That one principle was branded into our history – we are a country conceived upon the principle that “taxation without representation” is intolerable, a Constitutional Democracy that mandates that power of government is given only by majority vote and every person is entitled, as an “inalienable” right to equality as reflected in that vote.

But that entire premise is a work of fiction, a freaking fairytale. The truth is that millions of American citizens are legally prohibited from voting. Today the United States incarcerates more of its citizens in jails and prisons than any other country in the world. Add to that the millions more people convicted of crimes that are not imprisoned and you’re talking about approximately 7.5 million American citizens that are not allowed to vote.

Why would we care about that? I mean, certainly these damned “criminals” brought it upon themselves and their own acts resulted in the forfeiture of their right to vote. That’s what they want you to think. In fact, they don’t want you to think – they want to tell you what to think -- the last thing they want you to actually do is think for yourself.

Me, I actually like to think for myself, sometimes it scares the hell out of me, but I like it. What I’m thinking today is that it’s really pissing me off that I’m not allowed to vote. Although I’m imprisoned I pay my taxes in what I must buy. I’m sure that there are millions of “convicted felons” in the free world today that are paying a lot of taxes --billions per year – yet they are not allowed to vote … “taxation without representation!”

Well. I’ve got an idea, maybe it’s time we stood up as a group and demand our right to vote. These elections affect us too. In fact, electing those into office probably directly affect us even more than the average citizen.

So, here is my idea … from now on when Election Day comes around let’s our voice heard. Not a single voice, but a collective voice. How many are ready to stand up and be heard? Why not organize a “Million Convict March” on the White House every Election Day and as we gather in the National Mall, let each of us throw a single teabag into the reflecting pool as a symbol of protest. Each teabag by itself will be insignificant, just as each voice by itself will never be heard. But a million teabags will stain the water and be noticed. If these politicians want to deny such a huge percentage of American citizens their “inalienable” right to vote, yet continue to tax us, then let’s stand up and be counted.

Today I am ready to be declared an insurgent. Today I’m ready to stand up and be counted – today I begin my protest even if I am in solitary confinement on death row … today – Election Day – I am having a Death Row Tea Party and will now gather what tea I have and will ceremoniously dump them into my toilet and every election day from here on out I will continue to dump teabags into my toilet. Will my voice be heard? No, it won’t. But at least I’ll know I did something -- can the millions of other who are denied the right to vote in elections that will affect their lives say the same?