One Test of the strength of a Democracy

One Test of the strength of a Democracy the participation of youth in the political process. Its simple. Nations that have an eye on the future put youth – both the seed and the harvest of their future as a people – first.

In the parable of the Sower, Jesus of Nazareth tells of a sower who thoughtlessly dropped his seed on the path, or wasted it on rocky ground, or choked it  among thorns, and the seed was lost. But when seed fell on good earth, it grew, yielding thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.

There is a new wave of Republican attacks advocating throwing our seeds to waste. Fighting the right of college students to vote and participate at their college town  is a current Republican tactic intended to dampen the youth vote heading into the all important 2012 election cycle.

"Average taxpayers in college towns," said one Republican New Hampshire lawmaker, "are having their votes diluted or entirely canceled by those of a huge, largely monolithic demographic group ... composed of people with a dearth of experience and a plethora of the easy self-confidence that only ignorance and inexperience can produce."

 As the Republican attacks on public workers, especially teachers, in Wisconsin, Ohio and other states have shown, the so-called "defense of taxpayers" line is a complete fraud, a mere mask under which to politically disenfranchise and dis-empower, dis-organize, and destroy the bases of the Obama national coalition that overwhelmed the Republican war and dictatorship crowd surrounding George Bush.

Further, their "taxpayer defense" campaign will have not the slightest impact on the budget! Nor will any other campaign, that does not make dramatic reductions in unemployment, and a rapid return to a broad based and rising standard of living. There will have to be tax increases, fairly applied across the board, with exemptions for low incomes, to ultimately pay down the investments we must make now. But every year we do not make them, add two years of depressed economic opportunity.

Paul Krugman's recent quip that the Republican leadership has adopted the slogan "Kill the Future" to go against Obama's "Win the Future" slogan in his State of the Union address, gets truer every day, as details of Republican cuts show  that investments in the nation's, or children's, futures are severely weakened or discarded. Pell Grants, student loans, support for education at every level  is either cut or thrown in the trash in the Republican budget. The contempt they have for youth betrays a sclerotic and barren vision, a vision trapped by the past and unprepared for the challenges – and opportunities – our country must meet in building "a more perfect union".

There are  other Republican attempts at disenfranchisement in various states: establishing  poll tax fees to support the ID system, strict photo ID standards that would prevent many students from voting, as well as military personnel. Rolling back same-day registration and motor voter laws under the pretext of "strict ID enforcement" is underway in several states, notably Wisconsin, again targeting students, the poor and many working people.

If ever there was a time for revival of the student movement, it is this Spring and Fall. Youth – Defend Yourselves! Everyone else – join hands!

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