Introduction And Purpose:
This post is to “tie together” three comments/posts that discuss the problem of “political powerlessness” in the political process. This poses obvious problems in the area of “citizenship taxation”. It is important to note that what some refer to as “expatriate tax legislation” seems to always appear as a “revenue offset provision”. In other words, “Let’s put the cost on those whose votes don’t matter”. This point was made in one of the recent submissions to the Senate Finance Committee.
What should be the basis for the right to vote?
That said, maybe “Americans abroad” are lucky to be able to vote at all. There is NOTHING about citizenship per se (as the Canada experience suggests), that guarantees a “right to vote” for those who live abroad. In fact a recent comment from Lucy Stensland Laederich includes:
Both AARO and FAWCO have progress to their credit in terms of citizenship and election reforms – in each case, we followed the legislative path and worked with allies. It is true we do not have a history of “rocking the boat” but we do have one of sometimes major successes: when we inundated Washington with tea bags in the mid-Seventies (a campaign that started in AARO), we got the vote for overseas Americans!
The 1970s “Tea Bag” campaign is interesting. It should also give hope to those who think that change in Washington is impossible.
I strongly recommend reading the “AARO Account of how achieved in an increased capacity to vote“. It includes:
But opposition by the Justice Department continued, still led by Antonin Scalia, who had persuaded the Attorney General to oppose the President’s signature. The representative of the bipartisan committee, Gene Marans, decided to go over the head of the Justice Department. He asked Sen. Barry Goldwater to call the legal counsel of President Gerald Ford.
Senator Goldwater’s message to the White House was: “Listen you ___ fools! There are more Republicans in Paris than there are in Detroit! And Ford doesn’t want to be the first President to veto a voting rights bill since the Reconstruction.”
The bill was signed by the President on January 2, 1976. Direct political life had begun for Americans living overseas.
Note that Antonin Scalia was appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States. He continues to serve on the court today. Note that he wrote a dissenting decision in the May 18, 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision described below. In other words, Justice Scalia appears to have opposed the rights of Americans abroad to vote, BUT upheld the right to Maryland to impose taxes on the “politically powerlessness”.
Part 1 – Discrete and Insular Minorities In The Political Process – Do Americans Abroad Have REAL Political Representation?