If you can't beat 'em, cheat 'em.
That old adage has been around for decades. Right now, thanks to the Supreme Court of the United States, the same outfit that gave us the Citizens United ruling, it has never meant more to so many.
Yes, the right end of the Supremes held sway in a 5-4 vote that gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965. For those of you not around in 1965. the act was passed to ensure minorities, especially those in the south, would be able to exercise their right to actually cast a ballot which counted.
Even back then racists and conservatives--at the time mostly democrats--knew they'd get their collective asses handed to them if they allowed large numbers of black people to vote. So the answer was quite simple. Don't let African Americans vote at all, or at least enforce a bunch of draconian restrictions that would severely limit the number of people of color at the polls. Those restrictions and other pieces of legislation pertaining to the institution of segregation were called Jim Crow laws.
Jim Crow was originally a minstrel show character played by a white guy who would paint his face black and then sing, dance, and yuk it up while dressed in rags in order to entertain other white people. You know, folks like Paula Deen.
Someone adopted the name and applied it to things like, poll taxes and literacy tests that black voters had to pay and pass before they could vote. Wikipedia notes that one popular literacy test was to require potential African American voters to recite the entire Constitution of the United States of America, plus the Declaration of Independence from memory. White voters didn't have these problems because--well they were white--but also, in theory, they weren't new voters and so were grandfathered in after the laws were passed.
This bullshit lasted in one form or another until the mid 1960's. Lyndon Johnson, a southern democrat from Texas, and a guy who knew how to drive congress like a herd of terrified dumb beasts, pushed it through. Two things immediately happened. First, the Jim Crow voting nonsense was outlawed and certain jurisdictions, mostly in the south, had to get federal approval in advance before they attempted to put the fix in once more. Second, the old confederate states and conservative democrats began their mass and inexorable migration to the republican party, initially encouraged by that foul beast, Richard Nixon and his advisors.
Federal approval for the local changes part of the law was section five. Section four had to do with which states were covered and was based on historical patterns of discrimination against black voters.
The court, in a logic all its own, left section five alone, but gutted section four, which, of course makes section five completely unenforceable. The argument used during the ruling was that section four relied on information and data that is 40 years old and in the past four plus decades we've changed, become, as they say, born again. The majority ruling left it to congress to draw up new formulas based on current demographics and history that will be used to enforce section five.
One white house official was quoted by NBC as saying, "As a practical matter that may be difficult to do given current political dynamics."
President Obama was said to be, "deeply disappointed." He issued a statement saying, "I'm calling on congress to pass legislation to ensure every American has equal access to polls."
Unfortunately for the president, the house of representatives is controlled by a bunch of thugs who have spent the last few years making sure nothing he says or wants gets beyond them. In fact, to agree with anything this president is in favor of is considered an act of high treason. Just ask NJ governor Chris Christie. All he did was thank Obama after the Sandy disaster. He ended up being called every name in the book and has been accused of having nothing short of Marxist tendencies by the tea party mob because he did.
The truth is, leading up to the last election the state level cohorts of these Washington beasts did everything they could think of to suppress minority access to polls and that wasn't just in the south. It was everywhere.
National Urban League Chairman, Marc Morial addressed the issue by saying, "We witnessed in the last election cycle an orchestrated effort, 40 states in fact, where legislation was introduced to suppress the vote."
NBC chief White House correspondent, Chuck Todd simply said "congress isn't mature enough" when it comes to acting on something like this.
Todd is either being far too kind, or far too naive. We are talking about a bunch of clowns in the lower chamber who have voted 37 times to repeal Obama care when they know such a repeal is doomed to failure. Now you're going to ask them to ensure the rights of minority voters? Right, that will work--especially when everyone with half a brain knows democrats must have large turnouts of minority voters in order to win in national elections.
Christ, that impossible literacy test has a better chance of getting through the house than something like this does.
Some GOP moderates, that would be the ones who can read exit polls, expressed a desire to reach out to minorities and women after last November's stunning defeat. The Chock Full o Nuts wing didn't want any part of that strategy then and doesn't need to now.
Why expand your base by compromising what you pass off as principles when you can win by simply making it impossible for those who oppose you to vote?
Indeed. There is no fuss and muss with that option.
Welcome back to America, Mr. James Crow. I'm happy to say most of us didn't miss you. Unfortunately, one too many of us did.
Would you like scones with your tea at this grotesque party? Or, would you just prefer a somewhat selective poll tax?