catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 7, Num 13 :: 2008.06.27 — 2008.07.11


Freedom to speak

An ethnocultural foundation characterized the formation of the Republican party platform in 1854.  Initially opposing the expansion of slavery into Kansas, the Republican platform expanded its voice throughout the twentieth century, embracing ethnic and religious groups who helped affect change in key target areas of the day, such as alcoholism, polygamy and slavery.  Women adopted ten planks for the Republican Party in 1920, including “direct citizenship for women, not citizenship through marriage.” In 1992, it was written that “the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.”  And “Peace through Strength,” a plank in Reagan’s platform, was laid down to combat the Communist threat and implement massive tax cuts to revitalize the economy.

Recently, I attended a Republican platform hearing in Indianapolis, comprising an audience of more than 90 who came out to share in the exchange of ideas, opinions and beliefs and determine what planks will be in the Republican party’s platform for the 2008 election.  This tradition, unique to the Indiana Republican party, gives Hoosiers a voice for the development of the document which ultimately becomes language in the Republican platform.  And so today, voice remains crucial to culture.

About two dozen people stood to give prepared statements on the issues and brought heartfelt, and at times passionate, pleas vying for a place on this 2008 Republican platform.  We heard testimony in support of strong families, as well as pro-life and pro-faith initiatives.  Some argued for state funding of long-term care for the elderly and home-schooling, the belief in commodity-based banking, smaller government and restoration of a unified Republican party, the search for fair tax and compassionate understanding for individuals seeking immigration rights.  There was an overwhelming sense of support for simplifying the voting process with a desire to return to a paper ballot, a disdain for the implementation of the National ID, regulation of technology and the preservation of the last of the true free market: the internet.

It was exciting for me to embrace this part of the democratic process and celebrate freedom, this golden opportunity, in which our voices can be heard and recognized.  What a contrast to the lack of freedom I experienced in Zambia, during the 2005-2006 school year, where this kind of exchange of ideas was greatly hindered under threat of retaliation or even loss of life.  I can only imagine thousands of Zambians clamoring for recognition, their collective voices shaping their laws and government, if they had this same privilege.  It is amazing to me that in a country which is mostly without electricity, where most live outside cities with limited resources, the government was introducing a computerized voter system, using biomaterial—fingerprints, palmprints or iris scans—as identification.  This change was part of new security measures that were implemented to increase voter confidence during the September 28, 2006 elections.  But so many have no funds to travel to cities to cast their votes, while others are registered in one city, but work in another city many miles away, with their only means of transportation being by foot.

“Our system is better,” said Henry Kissinger during a 1990 debate at Oxford University with an East German socialist, “because it’s through the process of conflicts we reach something smarter.”  Eighteen years later this still stands true today; your voice does matter so I invite you to use your gift of freedom and vote.  It may be free to us, but not to the many who offered their lives fighting for freedom.

your comments

comments powered by Disqus