Shklar defines citizenship as possessing the “right to vote” and the “opportunity to earn”. Both very important “rights” to American citizens. We Americans fought long and hard to earn equal representation in this nation. When our nation was founded and the constitution ratified; only white male property owners had the ability to vote. They were the only demographic that had a voice in our political future. It took some time and setbacks as we moved to a truly democratic nation (equal representation). Many protests and strikes were organzied to fight for these rights. (Most during the Civil rights movement). African American males gained the right to vote on February 3, 1870 with the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment. Even though the Jim Crowe laws delayed and detterred many African Americans males from excersizing this right. Women gained the right on August 18, 1920 with ratification of the 19th Amendment. And in on August 6, 1965 the Voting Rights act was passed through congress. This act was used to overcome legal barriers deterring all citizens (but mostly african americans) the right to vote. States were now no longer allowed to use barriers such as literacy tests to dictate who can or cannot vote. ( Full timeline of voter rights found here: http://www.kqed.org/assets/pdf/education/digitalmedia/us-voting-rights-timeline.pdf
Shklar states the right to vote as “Standing”. To explain what she means by this i will use a metaphor used in one of our class discussions. “Everybody wants to be included in the club. However, once in the club, they could care less about the club”. So what Shklar means is that everyone wanted the right to vote. The people of america wanted to be included with the others that had the right to vote. As i explained beforehand, we as a country and a society have fought long and hard for equal rights. But once many of the excluded demographics ( non-property owners, indigneous decent, African americans, and women) gained the right to vote they didn’t care to us it. We still see the relevance of this problem in todays political spectrum.
As the 2016 presidential race continues to wane, we the people see a reoccuring request from the potential candidates; the request for a bigger turnout at the polls. It is estimated that only 60% of eligible americans actually vote. And that since 1964 we have seen a continous drop in participation but with some outlier years ofcourse. The political participation numbers will vary greatly from state to state and by the affilated political party (Democratic 0r Republican). For instance, in the 2012 presidental election the greatest turnout was in Minnesota pulling in 74.6 % of eligible voters. The lowest turnout was in Hawaii at 43.6 % followed by West Vriginia at 45.1 %. Whats more shocking is the low percentage of African-American voters. Only 13% of votes casted in the 2012 presidental election were African American. With whites dominating the turnout percentage at 72%. So why have many fought for the right to vote and don’t use it?
It is up to the American people to take action and support their political candidates and interests. Most americans reasoning for not making it to the polls on election day is that they dont have the “free time”. The second biggest reason is lost in trust of the polictal spectrum. Which explains the huge amount of support for Trump in the 2016 election. As an american citizen i beleive its a duty not only to “earn” but to “vote” for your political candidate or interests. It amazes me that the turnout rates could be so low. That “We the people” will let others make the decisions on who represents us and who will lead our country. Maybe it takes exclusion to bring action. Regardless, i urge all of you to turnout on election day to cast your votes regardless of your political affiliation.