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"Show Us Your Papers"

I am way too busy these days for long political rants.

But I would be remiss if I do not at least make passing mention of how depressed, disgusted, and, yes, angry I've become as I watch the ongoing attempts at voter suppression in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Iowa, and other states where Republicans and their Teabagger allies control key seats of power.

It is one thing to attempt to win elections. But trying to do so by denying the most basic and important right of any American citizen to hundreds and thousands of people, on entirely spurious grounds... that goes beyond reprehensible. That is despicable.

It would really be nice if there were still some Republicans of conscience out there who would stand up and loudly denounce these efforts, a few men of honor and integrity for whom "win the election" does not "win the election at any cost." There were once many Republicans I admired, even I disagreed with them: men like Everett Dirksen, Clifford Case, Henry Cabot Lodge, William Scranton... yes, even Barry Goldwater, conservative as he is. I do not believe for a moment that Goldwater would have approved of this, any more than Robert A. Heinlein would have. They were conservatives, but they were not bigots, nor racists, nor corrupt. The Vote Suppressors have far more in common with Lester Maddox, George Wallace, John Stennis, and their ilk than they do with their distinguished GOP forebears.

The people behind these efforts at disenfranchising large groups of voters (the young, the old, the black, the brown) are not Republicans, since clearly they have scant regard for our republic or its values. They are oligarchs and racists clad in the skins of dead elephants.

And don't tell me they are libertarians either. No true libertarians would ever support a culture where citizens must "show their papers" to vote or travel. That's a hallmark of a police state, not a free country.

TUESDAY ADDENDUM: Okay, this has been running several days now, has been featured on HUFFINGTON POST and ABC news, referenced on Stephanie Miller, and no doubt countless other people. We have had four hundred messages, and I think everyone has had their say, and everything that needs to be said has been said. Generally eight or ten times. There are plenty of links and references in the comment threads for those who would like to know more about these voter suppression efforts. If you don't want to dig through the links, start with the Brennan Center for Justice and get the facts.

There's no sense in letting this spin on in circles forever. I am locking comments. Back to Westeros and worldcon and similar subjects, boys and girls.

Thanks for listening.



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Mike Ling
Aug. 14th, 2012 12:56 am (UTC)
Proof there is little or no voter fraud.
What is proof there is little or no voter fraud? If there were any major case(s) of voter fraud, the Republicans would be crowing about it 24/7/365 for years on end. The would name names and what court such a verdict was made. You would not hear the end of it. Not rumors, not conspiracy theories, they'd name names, places, and make a tv movie out of it.
Aug. 14th, 2012 01:02 am (UTC)
Agree wholeheartedly, but just wanted to point out that the poor and especially the homeless already have difficulty voting even without these additional proposed ID requirements, for reasons such as:

- Lack of knowledge of how or where to register
- Being removed from the voter registration list due to inactivity(a problem if individuals are unaware of this, as registration deadlines precede election day).
- Depending on the state, the requirement to designate a regular mailing address in order to register (a local church, shelter, etc. can suffice, but this is not as convenient as it is for those of us with a mailbox steps from our house).
- Residency requirements in some states that require individuals live in the same state/county/city/precinct etc. etc. for a given number of days in order to vote in that region.
- Not receiving voting materials due to lack of regular access to a mailing address, making it difficult to know where and when to vote.
- Costly or difficult access to transportation to polling locations

So it's not just a matter of obtaining a current photo ID - this would be in addition to factors that currently discourage the poor from voting.
Rick Hegdahl
Aug. 14th, 2012 01:17 am (UTC)
Sandkings was my favorite story long ago...
when I had a subscription to Omni magazine.
Have never been an avid reader for some reason.
Thoroughly agree with your analysis of the Party o Tea.
Best wishes to you and please keep up the rants!
Aug. 14th, 2012 01:25 am (UTC)
I totally agree with what you said. The extemists have hijacked the Republican Party and those who want to preserve it's name need to stand up against these morons.

(P.S. LOVE Game of Thrones. Great writing)
Gina Gambony
Aug. 14th, 2012 01:54 am (UTC)
old song and dance
In 2008 while working on the Obama campaign, I was shocked at the more subtle attempts at voter suppression-naturally targeting people of color and the poor. False information regarding how to register to vote, who is qualified to vote, and where to vote was distributed through paper and even quite brazenly through robocalls. This year, the democratic party in my area has broadened the scope of efforts put toward combating the spread of disenfranchising misinformation. Why should this even be an issue in this great nation? And now trying to write disenfranchisement into law.
I miss the good old days when political misinformation was comfortably confined to the advertisements and on the floor of congress.

Yes, I know those days never existed.
Dan Brennan
Aug. 14th, 2012 02:03 am (UTC)
Where is the precedent for voter ID?
Are all the Representatives, Assemblymen, Delegates, Senators, Governors and President of State and Federal governments required to present their State approved photo ID in order to vote or sign off on every piece of legislation? I didn't think so. So how do we know someone else did not vote in their place? You say there is no proof that there has been any fraud? Hmmm...are you certain? Couldn't the fellow in the seat next to an absent member flip his switch? Kinda on accident of course.

Need to drug test and breathalize them daily too!
Graham Huff
Aug. 14th, 2012 02:09 am (UTC)
I've never watched game of thrones.
Sorry man, I didn't know who you are; I kind of stumbled across this and read what you wrote... I will now tune into your show as I'm already an HBO subscriber, but not into fantasy stuff. After reading this I will give it a try.

It hurts my feelings to live here in the South lately, there was a time (I'm 50) when it didn't seem to be so divided.

I feel that these "news" organizations are destroying our nation; idiots get their information from TV, people who want the truth dig for it, they go to several sources..not just one. Here, Fox News has evaporated the minds of the believers.

I was reading about the role religion played in the Civil War the other night and it struck me that the religious fervor that was present then has never left my people... my people WANT to believe things, they don't give two shits about conclusive facts that prove them wrong.

They're this way about Obama as well, their religious delusions coupled with what I thought was long ago buried racism is present, and there's no way it can be denied. This is 2012 and I'm saying this..how can that be?

I think the Republicans are a religion, not knocking all religions but in this case they're out of control with hate and latent racism. Sorry, I'm not a good writer.
Cherie Childs
Aug. 14th, 2012 02:13 am (UTC)
Voter Suppression
I am so glad that someone who is not in the political arena is taking note and VOICING their opinion about this horrible thing that is taking place right under our very noses! If people think that what happened with Gore in '04 was something, wait til you see the tidal wave of excrement that is going to come our way should this go the way the GOP wants it to! As a black person (and I know people will say that I am saying this just because but I don't care) I know that what lays at the very root of this is that some people would probably rather DIE than see a black man, no matter his intelligence, strength or steadfastness (sp?) be in office for another term. It makes myself and many people I know heartsick. What has our country come to?
Neil Fox
Aug. 14th, 2012 02:19 am (UTC)
My Mom and Dad went to the Tea Party Event in DC
George, first, you are an amazing author, and i loved your books. however, your anger is misplaced. First, kindly stop the name calling. My mom and dad are avid tea party supporters. they support liberty, and small Government. Both were proud federal workers. Mom worked at NIH on cancer research, and my Dad has a PH.D in Nuclear Physics. they give generously to charities with both time and money. As the term teabagger has sexual connotations, i am sure you'll appreciate why using it both offends, and weakens your central argument. Name calling has no place in America among those that think.

With regard to the voting issue, i think it does not make me or anyone else a bigot to want to ensure that every voter is allowed to vote. you can disagree, but this is a reasonable stance, and not driven by unfairness or racism.

i encourage you to invite some tea party folks over to your house. Get to know some before jumping to rash conclusions about their motivation.
Aug. 14th, 2012 02:25 am (UTC)
It's surprising that the Tea Party - the very group dead set against government interference - is so keen on laws requiring the showing of papers. If the values of the Founding fathers are still to have any value, then liberty should be protected above all else. We should be free of undue government interference, imposed upon us in the name of security.

Are so many of these people willing to surrender their freedoms merely to keep our foreigners and ensure that voting limitations are strictly enforced? Must we all learn to show our papers because of the mistrust of a vocal minority who are inviting the government to restrict freedom, only to those with government-approved identification. With this culture of mistrust, the values of the Founding Fathers couldn't be more out of reach.
Jay Murphy
Aug. 14th, 2012 02:27 am (UTC)
Support for George RR Martin's comments...

While I was both titillated and disappointed with your overall Fire and Ice series, I am very grateful for your comments today.

You have taken your good fortune earned through hard work and put it on the line. Like anyone who tries and do the right thing these days, making a principled stand costs in ways you can never recoup.

That is why many principled people cannot do the same thing. They can't pay the price.

Thanks once again. Game on!
Aug. 14th, 2012 02:41 am (UTC)
Republicans are the enemies from within
For all their flag waving, Republicans hate America. Don’t get me wrong… They like the LAND that comprises America for whatever natural resources can wrested from the ground, profited from, and discarded without care. The unfortunate rubes born on that land are merely tolerated – for the time being. Due to the system of government our Founding Fathers entrusted to us, Republicans have no choice but pretend they are working for these useful idiots – until they can actually permanently eliminate the “problem” altogether by somehow denying them the right to vote – and they’re working on it.

Paul Weyrich, the “father” of the right-wing movement, co-founder of the Heritage Foundation, The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Moral Majority and other Plutocratic organizations famously spoke to a bunch of Republican (phony) Christians and admitted that Republicans don't want people to vote. He said, "Now many of our Christians have what I call the goo-goo syndrome — good government. They want everybody to vote. I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people, they never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

Having nothing legitimate to offer working people, Republicans understand quite plainly that their leverage during election season goes down as the voting populace goes up.

Since the late 1860′s, when the Republican Party hired themselves out to the Railroad Tycoons in order to turn our government into a mere appendage of corporate affairs, Republicans have engaged in a class war against the working people of this nation.

They are the true enemies from within, sporting their (Made in China) American Flag lapel pins as they purposefully drag us back to the very system our founders fought a revolution to escape - namely, one where the rich own and run everything and everyone else know their (natural) "place" as they await their reward in Heaven. This is why they blanket the nation with Faux News propaganda and lies, smash down the barriers between church and state, destroy unions, and dismantle our education system. The Texas Republican Platform actually states they are AGAINST "Critical Thinking Skills!" GOOGLE IT!

Republicans need dumb, easily-manipulated, compliant serfs - NOT an educated, empowered, and economically vibrant middle class. THAT kind of middle class is much too "uppity." They must be relegated to PERMANENT MINORITY STATUS - as they were during the 50 years of American history known as "The Great Prosperity."

P.S. ANY working class person who votes for a Republican is nothing less than a useful idiot for the plutocracy - whose moral failings (racism, homophobia, fear of "other," ignorance of history/reality) makes them the willing dupes in their own demise.
Aug. 14th, 2012 08:23 pm (UTC)
Re: Republicans are the enemies from within
Very well stated, my friend.
Daniel Baer
Aug. 14th, 2012 02:42 am (UTC)
Well said sir, well said....
Well said sir, well said....
Aug. 14th, 2012 02:51 am (UTC)
Way to go George.
I couldn't agree more, and glad to see someone speaking out.
Aug. 14th, 2012 03:13 am (UTC)
"Show Us Your Papers"
20 years in the Army. the last 9 I have ben increasingly concerned about our liberties that we supposedly fight for. We go try to (and at times successfully) bring the chance for people to vote, but we will disenfranchise our own citizens. I am very concerned where this country has been heading
John Shebanow
Aug. 14th, 2012 03:13 am (UTC)
These are not Republicans, nor Libertarians. They are fascists, plain and simple. They seek to render unto business interests, all facets of public policy and governmental franchise. They utilize faith, race and jingoistic nationalist pride to enforce their will.

The first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, fought a war to ensure the supremacy of our democratic system, Teddy Roosevelt left their party, as it had already been co-opted. General Eisenhower warned us of their insidious nature.

Unfortunately, and here I must take issue with you Mr. Martin, Obama is not much better. He too worships at the alter of Goldman Sachs. He ordered the execution of an American citizen, far from a battlefield, without trial or charges. He prosecuted no one for torture or lying the nation into war, and unlike Bush, he knows it is wrong.

We are forced between the evils of Romney and the evils of Obama and for my conscience I must vote for Obama as he is the lesser of two evils, but this does not change the fact that he is evil.
Aug. 14th, 2012 03:21 am (UTC)
voter suppression
Bravo. You have said what needs to be said. Now President Obama needs to take a stand, perhaps by some kind of executive order, to curtail voter suppression. We must not allow our country to become a member of the Third World.
Galactic Overlord
Aug. 14th, 2012 03:28 am (UTC)
The Gay Marriage Wedge Issue
Mr. Martin,

I grew up reading comic books, watching STAR TREK/WARS and other iterations of Big Space Opera, finished THE HOBBIT by the end of 4th grade, and proceeded to take the next decade trudging through LOTR. I, therefore, would say those are adequate Nerd Credentials.

We all know the Nerd Existentialist Crisis of high school, being a pimply kid who needs to retreat to Mordor or the Death Star to get over the fact he can't get laid. Augment that with being gay and figuring that out in a male-only Catholic school and you know me to a T. Nothing dramatic, just typical gay nerd credentials.

Basically, with the exception of bits of STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND and the corpus of Samuel R Delaney, LGBT themes and issues in sci-fi/fantasy have never had a huge voice, and there certainly is yet to be a queer epic akin to the hetero-normative writings of Tolkien, Frank Herbert, or Harlan Ellison, though your works certainly shatters taboo.

Can we perhaps hope for future posts dealing with the issues regarding how the issue of gay marriage will be made into a wedge issue like Jim Crow laws were by Wallace et al a generation back?

Your podium would enable you to tell so many kids they will be okay and being gay is not wrong, that it gets better, and suicide is not an option for winners like them. The feeling of seeing your sexual orientation and discrimination against it being used as a reason to vote in favor of an American candidate really just hurts me as an American citizen, and I am really tired of the horse shit.

With respects

Andrew Stewart

You are now perhaps the first or second most popular living fantasy author as of this writing, as you have both a foot in the publishing and television worlds. Your pen reaches millions more than any other author.

You also, obviously, are a sane Democrat. I don't think I need to
Christopher Keelty
Aug. 14th, 2012 03:34 am (UTC)
Voter suppression in Pennsylvania
George, I wanted to thank you for this post, and to let you know that you have several fans at the ACLU of Pennsylvania, where we just wrapped up a two-week trial challenging the state's new voter suppression law (myself included - I'm the guy who's read all the books and has to resist telling my HBO-watching colleagues what happens next). We are expecting a ruling this week, which I am sure will make plenty of news when it is announced.

Anyone who is so inclined can read our detailed account of the trial, including full transcripts of the arguments and PDFs of every piece of evidence, at our web site. Our attorneys did a ton of homework, gathering evidence from a number of experts, commissioning a statewide study, and bringing together more than a dozen individuals, long-time voters, who would be turned away by this law. Our case dispels many of the myths around voter ID - including the myth that in-person voter fraud represents anything more than a fraction of a percentage of all votes. To find it you'll have to Google ACLU-PA - if I post a link I'll be marked as spam.

I think we made a fantastic case against voter suppression, but legal decisions don't necessarily come down to which side did the best job. We all have our fingers crossed.
Neil Mack
Aug. 14th, 2012 03:51 am (UTC)
The Republican strategy since Bush v. Gore can be summed up by the quote in A Game of Thrones: "When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground." Voter disenfranchisement is just more evidence of this.
Aug. 14th, 2012 03:56 am (UTC)
Your point is nice in your part and with others, but let us consider other position, their chance to do it is their privilege. Good work..
Aug. 14th, 2012 04:05 am (UTC)
Thank you, good sir, for writing this.
Aug. 14th, 2012 04:11 am (UTC)
What's the big deal?
I really don't see how you can be upset that a voter is required to show ID before voting...that's how we know who the person is. You need ID to buy a plane ticket, operate a car, and even rent a movie, what's the big deal?
If you really think people are disenfranchised by the onerous burden of showing one of the several forms of valid ID, then help make sure every potential Democratic voter has ID! Donate money to drive the "young, the old, the black, the brown" to the DMV or passport office to pick up ID.
Aug. 14th, 2012 05:45 am (UTC)
Re: What's the big deal?
Here's the big deal: there are millions of people in this country, many of them elderly, or students (funny how the GOP made sure to disqualify student IDs from allowing students to vote where they go to school), or very poor people who don't have the resources to track down a $75 birth certificate in order to obtain the "free" state ID card...
These voter ID laws DO disenfranchise MANY citizens. They prevent NO "voter fraud." They are a despicable attempt to tilt the playing field, because studies show that low turnout favors conservative candidates.
If you want further proof of the GOP's motives in rushing through this obscene assault on our rights, look no further than Pennsylvania House Republican leader Mike Turzai's comments: "Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done," he said to applause at a Republican State Committee in June. You can look it up on YouTube, there's a clip of him actually saying that.

Edited at 2012-08-14 05:46 am (UTC)
Aug. 14th, 2012 04:11 am (UTC)
Amen, and thank you for speaking out on this!
Shawna Angel
Aug. 14th, 2012 04:16 am (UTC)
disgusted as well
Our Founding Fathers sacrificed so much for the birth of this nation and with every birth comes high hope for the future. It sickens me to watch our nation drift further and further away from the freedom and vision it was founded on. Everyday it seems as though we are becoming more and more like a totalitarian state. However, it is not the government we have to fear but those with wealth who would seek to control the government and in turn control us all to buy more of whatever it is they are selling so they can become more wealthy. Why does the human race have such a need to destroy each other? For what, wealth and power? I had such high hope for future after 2008....I am losing hope.
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