Letter from the heartland: Getting rid of blue votes

Dear friend,

Our struggle continues.

This week we got news that the way we vote here in rural Tennessee has been changed dramatically. Remember that this is an island of blue in one of the reddest states in the Union. And we, being blue and rural and poor, are decidedly different than the southern part of the county which is deeply red and suburban and politically only slightly right of Attila the Hun.

The county commission as well as the election commission are controlled by these upper-middle-class conservatives. They are a growing demographic since our county has become an exurb of a larger metropolitan area.

Their political power has likewise increased. In the last election cycle, a 10-term Democrat in the state House of Representatives who represented our area was forced to resign rather than face certain defeat because of the gerrymandered election district that split his base.

And now, the  election commission has taken further steps to water down any remaining political power the left may have in our area. With very little fanfare, and even less public discussion, the commission decided to eliminate two of the polling places within 10 miles of our little town.

What they are forcing these poor, mostly retired, people to do is rather than come to our town to vote, they must drive 25 miles to the county seat to cast their ballots.

What they have done is effectively eliminated a large block of rural, more likely Democratic voters.

Even the local media, owned by large corporations, buried the story on back pages and neglected to mention it in local broadcast and electronic media.

Friend, I failed to mention that these media companies are among the large corporations that contribute lustily to the campaign coffers of the same election officials who ordered this disenfranchisement.

Needless to say, it is shocking for citizens of this country – many of them veterans – to wake up one morning and find themselves effectively out of a vote.

Remember, these are people who struggle paycheck to paycheck. They often scrape coins out of their ashtrays to buy milk. Having the gas and having the time to drive 50 miles round-trip to vote is simply out of the question for many of them.

In the only news story I could find about the decision, the head of the election commission was quoted as saying that the change in voting/polling place would save around $20,000 per election.

$20,000. That’s an incredibly great return on an investment in that elected official by her corporate owners.

About 7,000 voters are affected by this change. So, for about $3 per voter, there are now several fewer potential Democratic votes that will be counted.

While this is incredibly disheartening, we must, as the Communist Manifesto says, “never cease for a single instant to instill into the working-class the clearest possible recognition of the hostile antagonism between bourgeoisie and proletariat.”

Of course with obvious object lessons like this one, it makes that instillation much easier.

Meanwhile, I hope your struggle goes well.

In solidarity,

Charlie M.

Photo: A political rally in rural Tennessee. Charles Millson


Charles Millson
Charles Millson

Charlie Millson works in rural middle Tennessee with a food bank and ministers a small church. He's spent time teaching and ministering in the Memphis area and logged two years teaching in Romania, where he adopted his son, Shawn, 16 years ago. He's also the father of a 5-year-old bulldog named Bucky.