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Monday, September 21, 2020


HERO failing shows why we need to vote


Photo illustration by Justin Cross/The Cougar

Democracy is a funny thing.

People say they want the right to have decisions made by popular vote, yet at the same time want the right to not exercise that right.

In a democratic society, how is anyone is okay with less than 30 percent of registered voters deciding for everyone?

With Texas being one of 33 states that has early voting, this gives voters an entire week, plus election day, to turnout and vote, and most of these polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. So, when I heard that only 27 percent of registered voters turned out for this year’s mayoral election, I was disappointed. What’s worse is that this was the highest voter turnout since 2003.

This week, the highly contested Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, which expanded protection against discrimination to not only members of the LGBT community, but veterans, religious persons and even pregnant women, failed to pass via popular vote.

“No one’s rights should be put to a popular vote,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “It is insulting, and it is demeaning, and it is just wrong.”

Everyone has a right to live comfortably. If groups of people are being discriminated against, it is the government’s job to ensure that their rights are not infringed upon, that is the most basic role of government.

So, when people don’t show up to vote, is it truly a democracy?

HERO was something that needed to pass. Houston will now have the reputation of being the largest city in the country that does not have laws protecting discrimination against LGBT individuals and veterans. With a growing economy and more people moving to this city, applying for homes and jobs will now be more complicated for these persons.

“I am disappointed in Houston,” said LGBT Resource Center graduate assistant Liam Stone. “The fact that a majority (of voters) decided ‘hey, it is okay to screw over veterans because I hate transgender people’ even though this ordinance has nothing to do with bathrooms, that’s very upsetting.”

HERO was not about bathrooms, as the false information spreaders would have people believe. Ordinary citizens are simply not informed enough to make decisions on civil rights, as history has shown us. This is why we have government entities, whether it be the Supreme Court or Houston City Council, sometimes progress needs to be made at the highest level, rather than by the people.

This has become routine every time an election happens. Few people actually show up, and the only people who vote are far-right conservatives. Then when they win, we hear the same, ‘the people have spoken’ or ‘Democracy is great’ slogans.

This is a load of crap. This city has roughly 2.3 million people, and only about 263,000 of registered voters voted. That means 88 percent or so of Houston residents chose not to participate. How is this the people speaking?

Politics is boring, I get it, but, ‘I’m just not that into politics’ is just not a good excuse anymore. Yes, politics can be frustrating, but if people can list every member of the Kardashian family, they can pay attention to what’s happening in their city.

Opinion editor Anthony Torres is a political science junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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