American History: Liberty and Equality Essay

American History: Liberty and Equality Essay

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Though this nation claims to have been founded on the ideals of liberalism, a political ideology that promotes liberty and equality, in practice many laws implemented by our Founding Fathers are ridden with racism and elitism. In effect, the American Revolution was nothing but a shift in power from one group of rich white men to another. Fortunately, great strides have been made to expand franchise; between the ratification of the fifteenth amendment and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Du jur, all legal citizens over the age of 18, that do not have felonies, have the right to vote, regardless of age, class, gender, race or sexual preference. With the increase of attention to the national debate regarding voter identification laws, the de facto effects of these laws on voter turnout have been put in to question. Voter identification laws currently in place in a number of states disproportionately hinder voting in African Americans and low income earners, two groups that are not mutually exclusive and have historically been left at a disadvantage.
With every wave of immigration to the United States after its founding, anti-immigrant sentiments have been present. The first literacy tests were passed in the 1850s to limit the vote of Irish immigrants, highlighting Anti-Irish sentiments. When African Americans were freed, gained franchise and migrated throughout the country, Northern and Southern states alike passed laws to disenfranchise this group and isolate them from the rest of white society shortly after the Reconstruction Era (Woodward, p. 17, 1974). Chinese immigration in the West led to a nativist movement and the passing of the Chinese Exclusion Act, which included laws that prevented naturalization. This history of exclusi...

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...ication requirements for voters to cast ballots. The passing of these laws and the Supreme Court striking down Section 5 of The Voting Rights Act of 1965 brought the topic of voter identification laws to the forefront of the national media. The court’s ruling was found to be controversial as it would allow many southern states to pass laws in regards to voting without the approval of the Federal Elections Committee that the act had previously required. From this two schools of thought emerge. While many believed the laws were outdated and unnecessary, this ruling brought fear of a return to disenfranchisement of minority groups in the United States. The Democratic Party used this fear to attack the new voter identification legislation believed to affect their voter turnout while the Republican Party stood firmly by the legislation and gave arguments to support it.

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