President Obama used his speech in Selma to connect the past with the present while calling out Republican attempts to suppress the vote while urging the restoration of the Voting Rights Act.
THE PRESIDENT: With effort, we can roll back poverty and the roadblocks to opportunity. Americans don’t accept a free ride for anyone, nor do we believe in equality of outcomes. But we do expect equal opportunity, and if we really mean it, if we’re willing to sacrifice for it, then we can make sure every child gets an education suitable to this new century, one that expands imaginations and lifts their sights and gives them skills. We can make sure every person willing to work has the dignity of a job, and a fair wage, and a real voice, and sturdier rungs on that ladder into the middle class.
And with effort, we can protect the foundation stone of our democracy for which so many marched across this bridge – and that is the right to vote. Right now, in 2015, fifty years after Selma, there are laws across this country designed to make it harder for people to vote. As we speak, more of such laws are being proposed. Meanwhile, the Voting Rights Act, the culmination of so much blood and sweat and tears, the product of so much sacrifice in the face of wanton violence, stands weakened, its future subject to partisan rancor.
How can that be? The Voting Rights Act was one of the crowning achievements of our democracy, the result of Republican and Democratic effort. President Reagan signed its renewal when he was in office. President Bush signed its renewal when he was in office. One hundred Members of Congress have come here today to honor people who were willing to die for the right it protects. If we want to honor this day, let these hundred go back to Washington, and gather four hundred more, and together, pledge to make it their mission to restore the law this year.
Of course, our democracy is not the task of Congress alone, or the courts alone, or the President alone. If every new voter suppression law was struck down today, we’d still have one of the lowest voting rates among free peoples. Fifty years ago, registering to vote here in Selma and much of the South meant guessing the number of jellybeans in a jar or bubbles on a bar of soap. It meant risking your dignity, and sometimes, your life. What is our excuse today for not voting? How do we so casually discard the right for which so many fought? How do we so fully give away our power, our voice, in shaping America’s future?
Fellow marchers, so much has changed in fifty years. We’ve endured war, and fashioned peace. We’ve seen technological wonders that touch every aspect of our lives, and take for granted convenience our parents might scarcely imagine. But what has not changed is the imperative of citizenship, that willingness of a 26 year-old deacon, or a Unitarian minister, or a young mother of five, to decide they loved this country so much that they’d risk everything to realize its promise.
That’s what it means to love America. That’s what it means to believe in America. That’s what it means when we say America is exceptional.
The president gave a remarkable and far-reaching speech. Make no mistake about it. President Obama was calling out both the Republican attempts at the state level to suppress the vote, and the congressional Republican foot-dragging on the Voting Rights Act.
Voting rights isn’t a Democratic or Republican issue. All Americans should be standing together to demand that voter suppression tactics must stop. It was a disgrace when the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, and it is even more shameful that Republicans in Congress have not restored the law.
The Voting Rights Act does have bipartisan support in Congress. The question is, are Republican leaders in Congress brave enough to allow a vote on restoring the law? President Obama delivered a stirring speech. Today is more than a day to mark the history and courage of fifty years ago. It is also a day to demand a rare bit of courage from Congress. It is time for Congress to do the right thing and restore the Voting Rights Act.
Jason is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association
17 Replies to “At Selma President Obama Calls Out Republican Attempts To Take Away Your Right To Vote”
Exploding right wing heads and whines about being divisive in 3…2…1.
Fantastic Speech!Hero’s John Lewis & Barack Obama!
…adding to my deeeeep disdain for *R*epugnants!!!… http://billmoyers.com/2014/10/24/voter-discrimination/
Christie’s comment is most telling of the Koch agenda.
I am glad to see the President also called out the lazy asses that don’t vote. I don’t mean to be rude but if you can’t take one or two hours once or twice a year to vote you should give up your citizenship.
We can create another Constitutional Amendment- the Right to Vote!
And then, we could always attach a tax incentive to those who choose to vote. You know- a tax break.
Which we all know Republicans LOVE/LUST tax breaks. Just not for everybody.
Yep, and you know he does not love America. He sees it “differently”. If his view is different from repugs, then Hallelujah and Amen to that. Are there any on the right that care about America? I mean, really, are there any decent republicans?
If you haven’t seem or heard Pres. Obama here it is. Brilliant powerful one for the ages:
The transcript alone don’t do it justice.. (start @ 1:34:34)
He didn’t call them out. This was another ‘congress needs to act’ speeches, where he’s afraid to say ‘Republicans need to stop blocking this’. He talked about how Republicans and Democrats in the past have supported it; he did not specifically go after Republicans for blocking it this time. He never does.
Look at Oregon. Opt out voter registration, instead of out- in. Add millions of voters instantly.
There’s two kinds of disenfranchisement — 1. Front end — denying the ability to vote 2. Back end- Allowing the vote– then ignoring or manipulating the vote Corporate owned software must be removed from public voting systems. http://www.cavo-us.org
Amendment XV of the U.S. Constitution states:
Section 1: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The TP/GOP repugs have been doing just this with voter suppression, gerrymandering and making it increasingly difficult for citizens to vote by shutting American voters out of the electoral process. This has been supported by their rich buddies, and Congress by their allegiance to big money, has allowed it!
The republicans have nothing to offer! They deny citizens their right to vote by every illegal means possible as they fill their pockets with $$ and worship at the altar of greed and power!
They need to be indicted for sedition, insurrection, and treason for these unconstitutional and anti-American policies.
Blacks consistently vote and it is blacks whose votes are endangered by the Republican designed barriers. It is those of us beyond the reach of the racists’ challenges at the polling places who need to step up once again and support voting rights for all Americans. To have elderly African Americans again denied the right to vote because of a lack of identifying paperwork when there is no question about their legitimacy as citizens of this nation is an insult to this country’s morality.
Bigotry is ignorance of the 1st degree. Republicans are bigots and have displayed this fact from the first week President Obama was elected. This ignorance is ingrained in them. Bigot Republicans do not represent all Americans and should be removed because they are neither patriots nor abide by the Constitution but tread on all our rights.
This is what you get when public education is left to defend itself. Bigoted, ignorant peasants who are sunk in fear and superstition. Uneducated children grow to be uneducated adults.
Here in Louisiana, King Bobby has destroyed K-12 and is going after colleges.
His school-to-private prison program is yielding a fine crop of slave workers prime for renting out to ‘job creators.’
Peasants? If this one of those indicators of the wealth gap?
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