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Why I'm angry, part 1... - John [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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Why I'm angry, part 1... [Nov. 11th, 2016|10:10 am]

The Republicans have been working the Supreme Court for a long time. Their last bit of nastiness, flat out refusing to do their jobs, in hopes that they could steal a Supreme Court nomination from a President they've always despised, was not especially new, or surprising - they had the power to do it, so they did it, and that's how they've operated.

(It was horrible, don't get me wrong - but they've been horrible for a long time in this fashion. They continue to use their power in government to maintain their power, rather than doing their jobs for the American people.)

But I'm digressing. The Republican court handed them a huge victory. See, the Voting Rights Act was renewed with overwhelming majorities in Congress. The Constitution explicitly gives Congress the right to enforce this act. And the Supreme Court struck down the key portion, the one that requires voting changes, by states that have historically discriminated against minorities, to be vetted by the federal government.

Remember: this law was enacted by Congress, with powers explicitly granted by the Constitution. The Court decided to gut it because, hey, Congress probably didn't mean it, and besides, even if they did, it wasn't necessary. The reasoning was insanely stupid - they declared that the problem was solved, because there was reasonable participation by minorities WITH those protections in place - therefore, those protections no longer needed to be in place.

Instantly, in the states where the VRA had previously restricted them, new voting restrictions were put into place to prevent minorities from voting. This surprised no one - least of all the Supreme Court justices who'd voted to gut the act.

Texas was an especially interesting case. They flat out said, in court, that they weren't trying to restrict MINORITIES... they were trying to restrict DEMOCRATS. See, they weren't doing this because they hate black people - they were doing this because they were corrupt enough to steal the votes from anyone who didn't like what they were doing; so this wasn't a violation of the Voting Rights Act.

On its face, that seems like a reasonable argument - I mean, assuming you're so cynical that you believe that "a government of, by, and for the people" is hogwash. So it doesn't matter if people decide that power arises from power, and not from the people, right? I mean, as long as they're not explicitly discriminating on the basis of *race*, right? And, of course, assuming there's no law against violating people's most fundamental right, the right to have a say in how they are governed.

Well, I'm not that cynical. Oh, I'm cynical enough to understand there are people who believe that "of, by, and for the people" is hogwash. But I'm not cynical enough to pretend this doesn't shock the conscience of any person who truly believes in American ideals.

And it's still not a decent argument, even if you are so jaded. Because the problem addressed by the Voting Rights Act was not that African Americans were shut out of the vote because they were African American. The problem was that African Americans were shut out of the vote because, and only because, they wouldn't vote for the people that the Powers That Be wanted them to vote for.

If the Jim Crow south could guarantee that they could control the nominating process, they wouldn't care if African Americans could vote between two people who'd equally enforce Jim Crow. But they couldn't - if they let African Americans vote, they might vote the Jim Crow supporters out of office. So we needed the Voting Rights Act to end this hideous abuse of power.

So this mass disenfranchisement is doing exactly what the Voting Rights Act is supposed to prevent: it's stealing the power of the people, unless those people are guaranteed to vote as the Powers That Be want them to. And it's targeting minorities because after systematically attacking those minorities, they don't want those minorities to have any chance to demand changes.

Anyone who denigrates the right to vote, who attacks easy voter registration, who tries to impose reasonable-seeming barriers that nevertheless tilt the playing field, is unamerican - opposed to the single most important founding principle of this nation. This nation was founded on that very notion: that having power doesn't make you automatically good, and certainly doesn't mean you should continue to hold power. Your power comes from the consent of the governed; failing to abide by that consent is against our most sacred founding principle.

That's the first, and biggest, reason I'm angry.