The South’s Gonna Rise Again!

In the immortal words of Howard Beale, I want you to get up, go to your windows and stick your heads out. Instead of shouting, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore,” though, I just want you to listen carefully. That whoopin’ and-a hollerin’ and those puffed-up cries of “yee-haw!” you hear in the distance are coming from the conservative South. It just found out that the clock’s been set back to 1960 by the Supreme Court and it can now screw black people and other minorities out of their voting rights, all in the name of desperately clutching at the last remnants of its political relevancy.

If you don’t think this is going to happen in the wake of today’s high court ruling gutting the very heart of the Voting Rights Act, the one that points out correctly that certain areas of the country are worse than others when it comes to having a palpable distaste for minorities and seeks to prevent them from disenfranchising those minorities at the ballot box, then you sincerely have your head up your ass. Hell, it’s happening already, with Texas almost immediately moving ahead with a controversial voter ID law now that the Supremes have ruled that the state doesn’t have to clear it with the federal government beforehand.

If you don’t understand what was done today, let me break it down for you in the simplest terms possible. Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act forces any change to voting regulations by states to be run past the Justice Department before being implemented. While the court, in a contentious 5-4 ruling, didn’t strike down the entire section, it did assert that the formula currently used to determine which states are covered by the law — basically Section 4 — is unconstitutional. The ruling pushes the decision for settling the argument back to Congress — and if you believe for a second that the Republican-controlled House, in all its batshit dysfunction and pants-wetting fear of “others,” is going to move quickly to protect the rights of American minorities, you’re as insane as the Louie Gohmert and the rest of the Crazy Caucus. They’re going to drag their feet for as long as possible because taking positive action amounts to political suicide and they know it.

While it may seem unfair that certain areas of the United States are singled out for coverage under Section 5 of the voting rights act, let’s acknowledge reality: Certain areas of the country are worse than others, and have been historically, when it comes to providing rights to minorities. It’d be just wonderful to believe, as Justice John Roberts states in his majority opinion, that “our country has changed” and, as Republican Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina argues, “we live in 2013, not the 1960s,” well, bullshit. The problem is that a lot of the areas of the country traditionally covered through the formula codified in the Voting Rights Act do still behave like it’s the 1960s, or at least would if they hadn’t been forced not to by law all this time.

And here’s the thing: Actually, in some ways, the current situation is worse than it was in the 60s. No, black people aren’t regularly being hung from trees in the South, but the Republican party as it currently exists, thanks to advances like the Voting Rights Act, now finds itself staring down the barrel of demographic extinction. It’s outnumbered and the only way to prevent itself from being voted out of existence — barring, you know, making actual changes — is to prevent those whom it’s traditionally oppressed from being able to vote at all. Hence, the unconscionable recent attempts at cracking down on voting rights aimed squarely at the people least likely to vote Republican. Whereas at least back in the 60s, white, Christian men had the upper hand culturally, the conservative movement is now in an all-or-nothing fight for its very life. The stakes have never been higher for it — and you know what they say about the behavior of a caged animal.

The only way the GOP and conservatives can continue to win on a national level is to cheat. And that’s exactly what they’re now allowed to do.

Actually, you know what? I take it back. You go right ahead and go to your window and shout, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.”

Chez Pazienza was the beating heart of The Daily Banter, sadly passing away on February 25, 2017. His voice remains ever present at the Banter, and his influence as powerful as ever.