Mel E. Lindsey no longer believes the American people are represented by their government. The 90-year-old resident of Long Beach, California—who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and who spent more than 50 years in education—is concerned for the future of the nation he fought for and for the children he taught. Wanting to do something about it, Mel petitioned the government on behalf of all Americans and demanded a Voter’s Bill of Rights amendment to the Constitution to provide everyone with the right to cast effective votes for their representatives.
The First Amendment to the Constitution gives citizens the right to petition their government. It is the first time in American history that anyone has filed a constitutional petition for redress of grievances on behalf of every citizen of the United States. In a supporting declaration outlining his grievances, Mel said, “Our government should be primarily concerned with educating our children, nurturing the People, and helping them with matters such as housing and health care. Instead, our government is continually interfering in the affairs of other nations and fighting unnecessary internal political battles that deprive us of the leadership we need to properly care for our citizens, young and old.”
Mel is not alone in his concerns. A recent Washington Post-University of Maryland poll revealed that almost three-quarters of Americans believe political problems “have reached a dangerous low point.” Eight in ten said that Congress is dysfunctional, and less than 15 percent had a positive view of the ethics and honesty of their elected representatives.
Before Mel dies, he wants to see the United States transformed into a more nurturing and caring society, which will be less likely to start costly undeclared wars. He believes that change will only occur if the people achieve the right to vote, effectively—which right is not presently included in the Constitution. His petition demands that the Congress consider and enact the U.S. Voters’ Rights Amendment.
On November 1, Mel Lindsey mailed 578 copies of his petition, supporting declaration, and a copy of Transforming America: A Voter’s Bill of Rights to the president, the vice president, every member of the House of Representatives and the Senate, the justices of the Supreme Court, the members of the presidential cabinet, the governor and lieutenant governor of California, his state assemblyperson and senator, and the mayor and members of the Long Beach City Council.
Mel Lindsey is being assisted by college students involved in the Youth for the Voters’ Rights Amendment organization (Y4VRA), who helped him prepare the massive $4,600 mailing. The post office receipt for mailing the priority mail packages was more than 50 feet long! The California nonprofit USVRA.US—publisher of Transforming America—supplied the books.
Alejandra Molina, a student representative of the Y4VRA on the Long Beach City College campus, says, “The Youth for the Voters’ Rights Amendment is important to me because it gives me the opportunity to become actively involved in political change. As I struggle to understand our political system, the Y4VRA provides me with first-hand information about who’s who and what’s what. Otherwise, I would be seeking change without an effective way to connect with others and to make a difference. I believe that more and more young people will join in our movement, but even if we do not immediately succeed, our effort will be a torch to light the way, as we try and try again until we achieve a government that fairly represents the people instead of corporations.”
Working with Liam Newman, an 18-year-old website designer in Wales, England, the Y4VRA has updated its website, Y4VRA.org to make it easy for visitors to sign their own supporting petitions and to have them forwarded to their congressional representatives.
Mel Lindsey filed his petition “in memory of my wife, Joan, and it is dedicated to our daughters, to all of the great children we cared for and educated over the years, and to the People of this great nation.” He prays that “I will live long enough to see the Voters’ Bill of Rights ratified.”
The USVRA.US is convinced that the Voter’s Bill of Rights can only result from a mass political movement, and if it is led by the young people of America. “The future is in the hands of the millennials; they are the ones who will have to drink the water, breath the air, and live under whatever kind of government they elect.”
The Postal Service has delivered the packages to Mel’s representatives. Will he be ignored? Certainly, unless he is joined by millions of Americans who want to do something more than voting for unreliable and unresponsive “representatives.” We can follow Mel’s lead and join together in petitioning our government for a redress of our grievances. If enough of us take action, our voices will be heard, and we will make a difference.
A video of the mailing can be viewed here.
Click here to file your petition with your elected representatives in Congress.
William John Cox is a retired public interest lawyer who drafted the United States Voters’ Rights Amendment (USVRA.us). His new book, Transforming America: A Voters’ Bill of Rights presents the United States Voters’ Rights Amendment. He can be reached through his website, williamjohncox.com.