Supreme Court Helps the GOP Revive the Era of Jim Crow
Here’s a fantastic example of cognitive dissonance. On Tuesday, Republicans and conservatives managed to somehow continue their collective screeching about the rapidly fizzling IRS non-scandal and how the government unfairly targeted conservatives, while also applauding the Shelby County v. Holder ruling which would allow Republican-controlled states to deliberately target Democrats with disenfranchisement.
That’s a remarkable display of intellectual violence right there.
As I’m sure you’re aware by now, Chief Justice John Roberts along with four other justices gave a dying party a resuscitating zap with an electoral defibrillator. The Court decided that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional, thus undermining Section 5, which requires certain states with particularly egregious histories of racism seek approval from the Justice Department for any and all changes to voting rules and regulations. Put another way, the Supreme Court just removed a huge barrier between the Republican Party and its continuing strategy for suppressing Democratic voters, thus giving the Republicans an extra advantage on Election Day.
It’s difficult to envision a more obvious example of a political party abusing government power as a means of deliberately targeting the opposing political party. In fact, the IRS non-scandal, as it’s described by the Republicans, doesn’t even come close. Nothing the Republicans have alleged about the IRS strips conservatives of their right to vote or to participate in campaigns in any way. In reality, conservative groups were granted non-profit status twice as often as liberal groups, so there’s no substance to their scandalmongering. It only serves to illustrate the conservative penchant for hypocrisy and projection, given the voter suppression effort.
With a non-white majority growing larger in the window, Republicans cleverly ginned up a fake voter fraud crisis then prescribed new laws to combat the fake crisis. Every single Republican-controlled state government has passed or is attempting to pass laws that will require a second layer of government approval, the acquisition of a Voter ID, on top of registering to vote. You know, because Republicans hate big government bureaucracy.
The nefarious goal is to make it more difficult for low income voters to successfully cast a ballot by engaging yet another step in the process — and sometimes charging money for the privilege, which clearly recalls the days of poll taxes.
So this will weed out voter fraud, we’re told. Nonexistent voter fraud. In Ohio, for example, Secretary of State Jon Husted ballyhooed his war against fraud and the nabbing of a whopping 20 potential cases. 20 out of nearly six million votes cast. The Bush Justice Department found that there were as few as 80 successful prosecutions of voter fraud cases out of hundreds of millions of votes cast since 2000. For this ratio of possible-fraud-to-votes-cast we’re told we need laws that make it more difficult to vote, not less.
And that’s the key to understanding all of this. Casting a ballot should be as easy as ordering a hamburger at a drive-thru window, and the steps to get there are no-brainers. We should enact universal voter registration: when citizens turn 18 or attain citizenship status, they should be automatically registered to vote. Early voting should be permanently expanded to a full month nationwide, culminating with the traditional first Tuesday of November. Each precinct should be provided with more than enough voting machines and poll workers to guarantee that no one has to wait in line to vote. And that’s it.
But none of this conforms to the Republican electoral strategy. Republicans simply don’t want you to vote. There are countless examples of Republicans derping their true intentions in public beginning most-famously with Paul Weyrich, co-founder of the Heritage Foundation, who said:
“I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of the people. They never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”
There was Jim Greer, former chairman of the Florida Republican Party:
“The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” Greer told the Post. “It’s done for one reason and one reason only…‘We’ve got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us.’”
There was Dallas Tea Party activist Ken Emanuelson who admitted:
“I’m going to be real honest with you. The Republican Party doesn’t want black people to vote if they are going to vote 9-to-1 for Democrats.”
There was Republican state representative from Pennsylvania, Mike Turzai, who said:
“Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania? Done!”
From here we can thumb through the list of Republican state governments that played grabass with early voting hours (Democrats predominantly vote early when possible) or that provided fewer voting machines to African-American precincts. And now the conservative-leaning Supreme Court has allowed these governments, under the preposterous cover of 10th Amendment “states’ rights,” to pass more of these laws with impunity. By the way, this is the centerpiece of everything Ron and Rand Paul believe as self-proclaimed Tenthers, and come to think of it, in 2006, Ron Paul was one of only 32 congressmembers who voted against renewing the Voting Rights Act. So it’s not just the Republican establishment, it runs the entire gamut of the right — from libertarians and the tea party on through the old guard.
Now, there’s a small glimmer of hope here, believe it or not. Congress is now tasked with coming up with a repalcement for the Section 4 formula determining which states much comply with pre-clearance. And the new formula might sweep up more states and municipalities for DOJ scrutiny. That’s a big might. Meanwhile, Voter ID laws in North Carolina, Texas and Misssissippi are being hustled into law now before any changes occur, avoiding the pre-clearance process. So by the time a new formula is passed, if it’s passed at all, it’ll be too late for the states that’ve already passed these new Jim Crow laws.
And in the face of all of it, Republican Party is still regarded as a serious outfit with noble intentions on this matter when in fact it’s resurrecting one of the most horrendous episodes from American history: the era of Jim Crow.