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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.



Aug. 14th, 2012 09:22 pm (UTC)
Say what?
And for us non Americans, perhaps you could link to something explaining what is going on.

Because on the face of it, it does seem to make sense that only your citizens get to vote, and only once.

But I'm assuming this is more than that.
Aug. 14th, 2012 10:39 pm (UTC)
Re: Say what?
Part I (This is a Game of Thrones board, after all!):

Historically, the US, like many other countries, had voting laws that only allowed property-owning literate white males to vote. After the Civil War ended in 1865, African-American males were allowed to vote (by an amendment to the Constitution) in all states (previously, only free African-Americans were allowed to vote in Northern states). (Women were only allowed to vote (with a number of exceptions on a state-by-state basis, by passage of a Constitutional amendment in 1920 - still better than France in 1944 or Switzerland in 1971). For a number of years after the Civil War (while the North was still "supervising" reconstruction), there were actually a number of African-American senators and congressman. But, soon enough, the legislatures of the former slave-owning states put into place restrictions on voting (known as "Jim Crow" laws) that effectively made it very difficult for African-Americans to vote. There were literacy tests, poll taxes (economic test), etc. that were very difficult for recently freed slaves to meet and for poor classes to meet. And the administrators of these tests were exceedingly racist and would fail even those with Ph.D's etc. These types of restrictions continued through the years, until the civil rights struggles of the 50's and 60's (and the Voting Rights Act signed into law by Lyndon Johnson) bore fruit and did away with "Jim Crow" in theory. Even after "Jim Crow" tactics were outlawed, there were still a lot of stumbling blocks (through deceit and intimidation) that were put in the path of minority race US citizens in many states.

So, there is a healthy suspicion in the US of ANY type of restriction put on voting that could make it more difficult for particular classes of citizens to vote. And it has now been typical over the last 40 years for people to be able to vote just by signing their name (or putting an "X" if they are not literate) in the book of registered voters before being allowed to cast their vote.

George raises issues here of whether proof of identity should be required for voting and how it is alleged (or, in George's position, it is absolutely the truth) that those who are requiring proof of identity are doing so intentionally (and, some argue, with racist bias) to make it more difficult for people who typically vote Democratic (e.g., the poor, African-Americans, Hispanics, the elderly)to cast their vote. George's argument seems to be that it costs money and is difficult to get photo ID, so the legitimate concern of fraud is offset by the legitimate concern that one political party is trying to limit the voters of the other main political party.

Edited at 2012-08-14 10:44 pm (UTC)
Aug. 14th, 2012 10:41 pm (UTC)
Re: Say what?
Part II (Read Part I first):

Personally, although I am a Democrat, I disagree with labeling an ID requirement for voting as part of some vast right-wing conspiracy to disenfranchise Democratic voters. I don't agree that it is too hard to obtain a photo identification card, that the expense is too high, or that the risk of fraud is not a very real thing to be concerned about. I see ID being required in just about every transaction and interaction with the government (including for obtaining various benefits, such as welfare, food stamps, Medicare, and other items from the government), so I don't view it as a high obstacle at all to voting (a higher obstacle is single day voting on a Tuesday with long lines). Just as I don't think it any obstacle at all to obtain a license to purchase a gun, which those on the right seem to think will trample their rights. Moreover, there have been many claims of "voting early and often" in close elections over the years. Some claim that the 1960 Kennedy/Nixon election was tainted by extreme fraud in Lyndon Johnson's (then-Democratic Texas) and the Democratic-machine town of Chicago. Chicago, in fact, always seems to have stories of non-citizens and dead people voting multiple times. (And, even though Johnson carried through the Civil Rights laws, he, personally, was a terrible racist - constantly using derogatory language for African-Americans - but seeing the political value in them voting for the Democratic party).

So, on the face of it, it seems reasonable to have the same checks for voting as we do for getting on a plane or buying medicine at a drug store, but it is the historical abuse of the more downtrodden in our society that makes many view any restriction at all as a hidden agenda for oppression and a Republican-party ploy to win. I don't view the other side with as much suspicion - I think a lot has changed in 40+ years. As much as many people despise President Bush, some of his highest ranking officials were African-American and Hispanic (e.g., Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell, Alberto Gonzales). There are plenty of things that divide Democrats and Republicans, but I think that overt programmatic racism by government officials in establishing voter identification is not one of them - it seems to me to be a phantom argument driven by one party despising the other to such an extent that dishonest motives are always suspected.


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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