This week saw some great things and some that were not so great. While I applaud the Supreme Court striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), it bothers me a lot that they also gutted the Voting Rights Act (VRA). And I don’t know how Paula Deen fits into this but she does.
Paul Deen. The beloved southern chef was best known for putting as much butter as possible into everything she cooks but now she is known for her racist comments. Eugene Robinson expressed what I think perfectly this morning on Morning Joe. He said it wasn’t her use of the n word, it was her waxing nostalgic for a time when it was legal to own people. Her idea of a southern plantation style wedding for her brother with waiters who looked like slaves should sicken people. It also shows how much we still need the full protections of the VRA.
But it’s not about voting rights, it’s about keeping Democrats from voting. Whenever the voter turnout is high, Democrats win. Republicans know this. They know it all too well. If you look at the states that had proposed various schemes, for lack of a better word, they are run mostly by Republican governors. It may seem almost reasonable to require voters show ID, but who does that impact? There are a lot of older people who don’t have ID. That puts an added hardship. And what happens if you move a polling place? It hurts people who live near the original place. Small changes can make all the difference. We should make voting easier (I think election day should be a national holiday), not harder.
And while I am no fan of Chief Justice John Roberts (who gets the oath of office for the president wrong? Who thinks we have been “generous” in our treatment of the prisoners at Gitmo? He does.), but watching how he runs the Supreme Court has been interesting. He clearly has his legacy on his mind and flirts with bringing his personal ideology to the table but doesn’t go all the way. I think the decision on the VRA will go the way of Plessy vs. Ferguson, the decision that states had the right to segregate people based on their race. At the time, they called that “separate but equal.” I think everyone now sees that as the wrong move.
So the Court went the way I had hoped on marriage equality, it sent us back to another era with the VRA. Paula Deen’s book sales have skyrocketed in the wake of her comments and her “apology.” Donny Deutsch said this showed the disconnect between corporate and personal forgiveness. I think it shows how far we haven’t come since the VRA was enacted in 1965. We’ve changed but we’re evolving. It’s why we created “a more perfect union,” not a perfect one.
One step forward and one back. I guess it’s better than two steps back but not by much.