Thursday, July 28, 2016

“We Must Not Let Them Vote”

We’ve never seen such negative casts on the presidential nominees from each party. One clearly compromised legal requirements by keeping our nation’s most sensitive secrets on an easily-hackable private email server, engendering the lowest voter trust numbers I’ve even seen. The other is prepared to ignore the constitution to deliver his country to the control of a smaller constituency of angry white Evangelicals and their partners.
While the issues are cast as “big change” vs. “the status quo,” the real battle is between those attempting to turn the clock back to the 1950s where minorities were still marginalized simply by numbers and yet-unreversed legally-reinforced tradition, the United States was a superpower that was challenged only by the Soviets and the economy was exploding versus an irretrievably globalized planet (from competition to mutual economic interdependence) in which the United States is just one large player in a world of asymmetrical warriors representing semi-stateless zealots with global domination as their goal.
Deeply in debt, the United States risks domestic unraveling – as infrastructure drops to substandard, educational opportunities are now thoroughly class-driven and otherwise underfunded and government research to provide future economic opportunities vaporizes – in order to fund a massive military that hasn’t won a major conflict since WWII. We’ve disenfranchised our inner city black communities by allowing public schools to deteriorate, watching as jailed black men generate job-killing convictions (mostly for non-violent crimes) leaving families to be maintained by single moms, and saddled young recent college grads with unsustainable debt.
I was not amused by a recent Obama administration report that this massive student debt was the reason for so many more people going to college. It was the wrong lesson from obvious facts. Yes, having lots of young people getting educated is both terrific and necessary, but one cannot believe that crushing debt is a good way for them to start their adult lives.
But the reality remains that we are not going to un-globalize. We are not going to be able to dictate unilateral economic policy to the rest of the world; we simply do not have the bargaining power. White Evangelical incumbents can continue to use gerrymandering and denying “minorities” voting rights to maintain their grip on a majority of state legislatures and governorships… and perhaps on both houses of Congress… to delay their inevitable loss of political control due to irreversible demographic changes. But the clock is ticking, and the 2020 Census will send shock waves through that ever-shrinking (as a percentage of the whole) body of white rural-values traditionalists. Donald Trump is probably their last great hope to “take back America” from the rest of America. Or we could do what the Civil War prevented, splinter into separate nations with dramatically different systems of government. Change is coming, good or bad.
As Texas becomes increasingly Hispanic, for example, even the big red Lone Star State will lean purple in a redistricting that must come sooner or later. In the meantime, after the Supreme Court eviscerated federal oversight over those states whom the 1965 Voting Rights targeted for past discriminatory practices, those same states rapidly reinstated statutory schema unambiguously intended to use voter-ID requirements to limit or eliminate too many with an obvious socio-cultural proclivity to vote Democratic (see the above chart). And the courts stepped back into the fray to rebuild those equal protections that would make such new, obviously discriminatory, voter ID laws illegal.
In mid-July, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, found that the Texas voter ID law had a discriminatory effect on blacks and Latinos, who often lack the required forms of identification required under the law. This Texas effort simply violated even those provisions of the Voting Right Act left intact by the Supreme Court. With a divided Supreme Court, that decision is likely to stand. But Fifth Circuit decision remanded the case to the federal trial court to fashion changes to reduce the discriminatory aspects of the statute. More easily said than done.
[After] a federal appeals court ruled that the law discriminated against minorities, there is a new, equally vexing question: how to fix it… The appellate court’s decision kept the law in place but instructed a lower court judge to come up with procedures to minimize the law’s effect on those who do not have an approved form of government-issued photo ID or who face hurdles in easily obtaining one, many of whom are black or Hispanic. North Carolina, South Carolina and other states that have passed voter ID requirements have had similar court battles over how, and whether, to loosen their rules to accommodate poor and minority voters.
“One option is allowing voter-registration cards to be used as ID. Those cards are mailed to voters and do not have a photograph, and might be more readily available to an impoverished voter than a government-issued photo ID. Another option is expanding the list of acceptable IDs to include student IDs or government-employee IDs. And yet another possible solution involves having the state exempt the poor from having to show a photo ID to vote, an exception modeled on Indiana’s voter ID law.
“Election law experts and opponents of voter ID restrictions cautioned, however, that softening the effect of voter restrictions is more easily ordered by a court than accomplished in reality.
“‘These softening measures work better in theory than in practice,’ said Richard L. Hasen, an election law expert and a law professor at the University of California, Irvine. ‘Voters don’t understand what their rights are, poll workers don’t always understand, and there’s not adequate publicity about the options.’” New York Times, July 21st. How about killing the law in its entirety?
As two presidential candidates, strong only within their respective “Base” constituencies and otherwise almost equally unpopular, square off, they are mired in an election process with loads of unfairness built into any vote that relies on state-defined voting districts (electoral or Congressional districts) and applies discriminatory voter ID laws. If such districts were simply based on raw popular votes across the entire state, the GOP would most probably no longer control a majority of state legislatures, and Congress would reconfigure dramatically. Since U.S. Senate seats are not defined by such districts, the Senate is much more vulnerable to a change of party control, while the district-driven House is not.
Biases were built into our form of government. Two Senators from every state, regardless of population, disenfranchises states with large urban populations to the benefit of rural states. Allowing states to form their own districts was an invitation to corrupt the ballot. The system was designed that way. But there are checks and balances that can, to a certain limited extent, reverse that inherent unfairness… and let all American citizens of voting age cast a “one person, one vote” ballot. Today, with those biases and restrictive voting statutes, one rural vote equals 1.8 urban votes.
I’m Peter Dekom, and I wonder why we tolerate an incumbent minority rejiggering the voting process to allow them to have a hugely disproportionate per-person voting advantage over everybody else.

1 comment:

Peter Dekom said...

Washington Post 7/29: "A federal appeals court on Friday struck down North Carolina’s requirement that voters show identification before casting ballots and reinstated an additional week of early voting.

"The decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit was an overwhelming victory for civil rights groups and the Justice Department that argued the voting law was designed to dampen the growing political clout of African American voters, who participated in record numbers in elections in 2008 and 2012."