Monday, April 24, 2006
Right or Duty?
How does one determine if his or her rights are being violated by the government? When does the government become a tyrant?
The framers crafted the US Constitution and wrote volumes to address the problems of despotic government, and there was never perfect agreement on where to draw the line is between tyranny and liberty. Federalist James Madison wrote that “[i]n framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” (No. 51). “Brutus,” one voice out of many opposed to a centralized federal government, wrote that “[t]he design of civil government is to protect the rights and promote the happiness of the people….Hence we find, that all the state constitutions, contain either formal bills of rights, which set bounds to the power of the legislature…” (New York Journal, January 17, 1788).
Both Madison and Brutus agreed that the government should be limited; however neither agreed on the definition of “limited” nor on how to achieve such limitations. The same discussion occurs session after session in the Missouri Legislature. Today, the government is a tyrant unless it pays for the privileges that many American citizens consider rights, as specific enumerated rights are confused with our duty as citizens.
Case in point:
Currently, there are two bills in the Senate that have clauses that would require Missouri voters to present a photo ID at the polls before they can vote.
Senate Bill 1014 would not only require voters to have a photo ID, but also states that:
The state of Missouri shall pay all the legally required fees for applicants for non-driver's licenses. Persons residing in convalescent, nursing, and boarding homes shall be issued a non-driver's license through a mobile processing system operated by the department of revenue at no cost.
Ten of thirty-three Senators did not vote for this bill, as those opposed to the measure cited the unintended consequences on the poor and elderly who cannot afford such IDs. The aim of the Senate bill is to reduce voter fraud. It needs one more vote to move to the House.
SB 1250, which includes a section requiring a photo ID for Missouri voters, aims to decrease the ability of illegal aliens to illegally vote.
There is opposition to both bills because of the burden on voters to obtain and pay for a photo ID. Can someone please help me understand how reducing voter fraud makes the government a tyrant? While I must recognize that such a measure isn't convenient for some voters, such an inconvenience—as some have given their lives to protect the reliability of our electoral system--is our duty.