Taxation without representation: U.S. citizens must have vote

The United States has always served as an ideological battleground for inequality.

Whether the war is about gender, race or sexual preference, it is consistent and unceasing.

Old battles, however deeply buried always seem to creep back up to haunt the country’s current inhabitants while new wounds are freshly inflicted on one group of people or another.

In 2015, it seems ridiculous that we are facing the very same problems we faced when we were just a budding country nearly two and a half centuries ago, but only to those who are not actually considered “we.”

Though it is true that this country has come a long way from its dark past, remnants of its superior imperialistic attitudes are still blatantly apparent in the fact that it continues to “other” groups who deserve recognition.

In 2015, one might assume that every American citizen has the right to vote.

While this is a reasonable assumption, it is not actually the case.

To think that all citizens of this country automatically have the right to a vote that counts is sadly misguided.

Millions of citizens residing in Puerto Rico, Guam and American Samoa lack voting rights, despite their U.S. citizenship.

The reasoning behind their lack of representation rests on a series of documents produced by the U.S. Supreme court in 1901 called the Insular Cases.

These were written to guide governance of the U.S. territorial acquisitions after the Spanish-American War as there were no rules in the Constitution stating what to do with territories.

The Insular Cases ensured that all rights enjoyed by American Citizens did not automatically extend to citizens living in these territories on the grounds that U.S territories were “inhabited by alien people” who would not understand Anglo-Saxon principles.

These decisions were entirely inappropriate within the context of America’s racist and narrow-minded culture. Today they are outdated and appallingly un-American.

Despite the fact that most Americans enjoy voting rights, voter turnout among minority groups is traditionally low, and has remained so, especially in low-income areas.

According to the 2010 U.S Census, today there are 4.1 million people living in the U.S. territories

Of those, more than 98.4 percent are minority populations, reinforcing the general lack of representation that minorities experience in America.

That is too large a number to be ignored, especially because those citizens are not numbers – they are people who have as much of a right to the vote as their fellow Americans on the mainland.

However racist, unfair and insensitive, revision of the rules denying the vote to U.S territories will be a long time coming.

We can only hope that eventually this country will evolve and live up to its own supposed standards of equality. Until then, we can write our congressmen.