By James Preston Allen, Publisher
By all appearances, this coming July 4thcelebration is ramping up to be one of somewhat historic significance here in the Los Angeles Harbor Area, what with the San Pedro’s First Thursday on July 5, Swing Pedro’s dance party under the moon on a closed off Sixth Street July 6, and the USS Iowa’s grand opening that weekend. On July 4 itself, all of the usual festivities that come along with our national birthday will also be celebrated. The politicians will be giving speeches at the Korean Bell, civil libertarians will read the Bill of Rights at Liberty Hill and Cabrillo Beach will host, once again, a traditional fireworks display–thank you John Olguin. All of this takes place in the context of 5,000 various barbeques, a whole lot of beer drinking and the unrestrained exuberance of illegal neighborhood fireworks– some of which have become so extensive as to compete with the “official” shows. And then two weekend days to recover.
As Americans we love celebrations, and the bigger and more spectacular the better. What of course seems to be continually lost, for the most part, is why we’re throwing the party. In our own convoluted sense of history the idea of ratifying the Declaration of Independence and the pronouncement of these principles being the guiding light of universal human rights does get lost amongst the explosions and political hubris. When you hear one of our leaders speak of American Exceptionalism, they are in part referring to this founding document as evidence of being exceptional.
However nothing in our revered document of independence is there any reference to granting “person-hood” to corporations, which was recently upheld by our conservative majority “activist” Supreme Court.
From the blog Create Real Democracy, this sentiment was posted:
“We’ll believe a corporation is a person when: Arizona deports one. Texas executes one. Massachusetts marries two of them [how do you determine if they are of the same sex?]. The U.S. government issues one a Social Security number. The CIA extradites one to Guantanamo [presumably to be water-boarded]. One sacrifices its life in military service.” Obviously a majority of our Supreme justices believe differently.
The July 4th celebration is also our official kick-off of political campaigns that end in November in election years, particularly when it’s time to elect a president. No doubt, we’ll be treated to a media smorgasbord of images of Obama and Romney eating hot dogs and speechifying at various flag-waving events. Meanwhile, as we gorge ourselves with barbeque and beer, take a look at what MoveOn.org tells us about the condition of our (dis) enfranchisement to vote:
Florida: Republican Governor Rick Scott tried to kick 180,000 people off the voter rolls in his state and is now suing the Department of Justice after they stepped in to stop him. Rick Scott’s racist voter purge, which directly targets Latino voters is so egregious that every one of the 67 supervisors of elections in the state Democrats, Republicans, and independents has so far refused to carry it out.
Ohio: Republican Governor John Kasich signed legislation to eliminate Ohio’s “Golden Week” early voting period, which had allowed for voters to register and vote on the same day and eliminated all in-person early voting on Sundays when large groups of voters, including significant pockets of Democratic-leaning African American voters, often voted together after church.
Nationwide: According to the Center for Justice, “the states that have already cut back on voting rights will provide 171 electoral votes in 2012―63 percent of the 270 needed to win the presidency” and could prevent as many as 5 million voters from exercising their right to vote.
It seems all to obvious that far more people participate in the celebration of freedom and independence than who actually practice it by voting. Which leads me to the conclusion that what is needed is a second nationwide holiday to celebrate election day with only this caveat– that you wouldn’t be admitted to the party if you didn’t have proof you voted! It is something to consider while you are stuffing your face and watching the rocket’s red glare.