The Impact of Voter Suppression on Elderly & Disabled Americans

The Reason Corporate America is Silent About Restrictions on Voting Rights

Blue Chip corporations such as Delta Airlines, Coca Cola, and UPS, have recently been strong proponents of civil rights for practically every class of citizen suffering from discrimination. They have sent their lobbyists to state legislatures to support anti-discrimination legislation and to pressure legislators for enhanced gay, ethnic, and gender rights. But when it comes to voting rights, corporate America is, for the most part, silent. Why?

It is understandable that more democracy is not in the best interests of corporations as they have evolved over the past few decades. Beginning with the Reagan Administration, the Milton Friedman philosophy of radical shareholder rights became a political movement. Throughout the past 40 years, deregulation has become de rigueur – even among some Democrats. Tax codes have been incessantly modified for increased transfer of wealth from the mass of Americans to ultra high net worth investors.

Corporations may jump aboard with some social responsibility movements, but more democracy is a bridge too far. Indeed, less democracy will be more protective of low corporate tax rates and tax subsidies. The Trump/Republican 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was an extreme move to subsidize corporations and wealthy individuals. They certainly won’t want to give that up and will fight to keep it.

Voters overwhelmingly favor reforms that would hit corporations in their bottom lines (or in their cash flows). Corporate executives, corporate boards, and major investors do not want to see voters have the power to set things right – to make the system more just and fair. This is not good news for all proponents of democracy, but it is especially threatening to institutionalized elderly and disabled Americans.

Deregulation & Government Capture Are Bad for Elderly & Disabled Americans

Republican voter restriction laws typically undermine the ease of absentee voting, which is of particular importance to people who have difficulty getting out to the polls. Missouri has the most restrictive voting laws in the nation. An absentee ballot must be notarized. It is likely that the draconian voting restrictions (e.g., no early voting) of Missouri will be copied by other states controlled by reactionary Republicans.

Voting restrictions designed to defeat candidates in favor of liberal democracy are particularly dangerous for elderly and disabled Americans, many of whom are institutionalized or could at some point be in need of long-term skilled nursing care. Reactionary conservatives will reward industry with less oversight and increased up-transfer of wealth through privatization and tax expenditures. Money that could be invested in care will be pocketed by investors at the expense of patients – even more so than now. Horrid conditions pervasive in publicly funded skilled nursing facilities will become worse.

The “Reagan Revolution” has not run its course. It has become increasingly fanatical and the politics of the Republican Party have become toxic and sick. Some of the nasty subtexts noticeable during the early phase of the revolution have become glaring and potent in the movement today. For instance, white supremacist, social Darwinist “survival of the fittest,” “winner take all,” “let nature take its course” attitudes can be seen in the treatment of refugees at the Southern border, refusal to increase the minimum wage, lack of safety for workers, and refusal to address debilitating, neglectful care for people in nursing homes – just to name a few manifestations of government for plutocrats rather than for everyone.

In the world of unfettered capitalism and autocracy, the elderly and disabled have little value except as products to be monetized and utilized to add value to revenue producing real estate or to justify excessive prices for privatized medicine. If the current anti-democratic moves on the part of right-wing reactionaries succeed, our lives will be shortened more than they currently are through isolation, segregation, and debilitating institutionalization. Unfortunately, American capitalism has become debauched and only liberal democracy can save us from a very dark future.