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Your Rights and Our Election

Rights. We are inundated with a great deal of loose talk about “rights.” What sorts of them? Legal rights. Civil rights. Natural rights. Human rights. Constitutional rights. God-given rights. Is there a difference? Says who?

AWR Hawkins of Ammoland Shooting Sports News helps us understand God-given rights: “our right to keep and bear arms is a God-given right.” He’s backed up by David French of the National Review who informs us that having and using guns is a “Biblical and natural right of man.” They seem to be endorsed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who railed against a proposed arms control treaty that could, in his words, “hinder the US in fulfilling its strategic, legal, and moral commitments to provide arms to key allies such as Taiwan and Israel.” Moral commitments and lethal aid—praise the Lord and pass the ammunition. The Republican Senator from Kentucky is of course a champion of right-to-life legislation 100 percent. Nothing says pro-life like a prayer closet full of guns and some war profiteering.

Free speech is defined by Jeff Bell, who also clears up questions about who defends all our rights and under what circumstances. No, he’s not the Supreme Court Justice who wrote the prevailing opinion on the matter, he’s the head of the Broward Country, Florida police union, who pulled the plug on the rights of three Miami Dolphin players to be protected by police because they knelt during the Star Spangled Banner. I hope Chief Justice Roberts was taking notes.

I’m pretty sure Donald Trump is informed by these sorts of declarations and friendly reminders about what constitutes your rights, his rights, and the times when those rights may no longer apply. Re-elect McConnell and his ilk, vote in Donald Trump, and watch what happens to your rights. If you do, unfortunately, you may lose the right to know until it’s a bit too late. But for the time being, it’s your right to vote—well, unless you’re part of a demographic likely to vote against incumbents. The 2013 Supreme Court evisceration of the 1965 Voting Rights Act goes a long ways toward helping us to understand that, nowadays, voting in the US is much like health care in that it’s a privilege, not a right. That will be all firmed up once Trump gets to appoint the next Supreme Court Justice and possibly a couple more of them.

Rights, schmights. Focus on the Surreality TV around the election. Much more fun!

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Tom H. Hastings is core faculty in the Conflict Resolution Department at Portland State University and founding director of PeaceVoice

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