First, for those of you who are new to this blog (and you’re out there, I know, going by my growing readership numbers), I have no truck with either of the two major political parties. And even less with the minor parties that you’ve heard of (the Libertarian Party, for instance, makes the Dems and Repubs look like the soul of reasonableness. Or used to. You can count on less and less, these days).
So when you see me mock a fund-raising press release from the Democrats, do not assume that I’m a Republican. And when I criticize Nikki Haley’s latest madness on Voter ID, do not assume that I’m a Democrat (not that you would, in her case, since she infuriates so many Republicans — although on that issue, they are perfectly in sync with her). When you do those thing, you tick me off, of course — which is why some of you do it on purpose, to get a rise. But more to the point, you find yourself misunderstanding, and following a path that will cause you to to fail to follow other things that you read here.
So it is that, after marveling at the foolish sequence of statements and actions into which her advocacy of Voter ID has led our governess, I now complain at having received yet another communication from the Democrats on the same subject.
As I’ve said over and over, this is an issue that exists purely as something for Democrats and Republicans to fight over. It has no bearing on reality. There are no elections to point to in which significant amounts of fraud occurred, nor elections in which lots of people who followed basic procedures were denied the opportunity to vote. This issue will not affect the outcomes of elections.
But… the Democrats and Republicans believe it will, and that the effect will be manifest along partisan lines. They both believe that it will keep poor black people (and other demographic groups sharing certain characteristics) from voting. The Republicans welcome that anticipated development; the Democrats fear it.
And because of that, day, weeks, even years of legislative time has been wasted on “debate” over this non-issue. It really ticks off the Democrats and Republicans when I say this, because they are both PASSIONATELY devoted to the principles they see at stake — and even more so to the electoral advantage they see as being at stake. You will see a great deal of solemn, deadly serious pronouncements on this subject.
I have lamented every moment wasted on this subject that could have been spent on something else, so I wanted it either to pass or be decisively defeated, so we could move on. Eventually, it passed in South Carolina, and the governor eagerly signed it, and Republicans hailed it as the greatest thing ever, and Democrats wailed and rent their garments, or whatever the modern equivalent is.
For my part, I was glad that it was over. Oh, foolish optimism! Because of course, Republicans are doing all sorts of foolish things to try to ameliorate the perceived harm they have done, and Democrats are getting more and more indignant as days go by, such as in this release I got today:
My Fellow South Carolinians,
My first political memory is sitting on the floor in front of the television watching the results of the 1984 Presidential election with my grandfather. I asked him hundreds of questions about the candidates, the White House, and past Presidents, and in his loving way, my grandfather attempted to answer each question to the best of his abilities.
Society would have classified my grandfather as a simple but hard-working man, a product of the segregated south. He didn’t have much money, he didn’t have much education, and he didn’t have a fancy job. But what he had and cherished was his dignity, his family, and his right to vote. It was a right that he didn’t always have — and sometimes didn’t even exercise. Nonetheless he felt it was a right that could not and would not be taken away from him.
The South Carolina Voter ID bill that was passed with GOP support and signed into law by Governor Haley, disenfranchised more than 180,000 South Carolina citizens, and if my grandfather was still alive it would have disenfranchised him as well (after having his leg amputated he no longer had a government issued Driver’s license).
Thanks to the efforts of the Democratic members of the Senate and House, the SC Progressive Network and others to oppose the bill on the grounds that it discriminates against minorities and seniors, the Department of Justice is asking for more information about the legislation.
As Americans, not as Democrats, nor as Republicans, but as Americans, we must keep the pressure on the DOJ, in the 60-day window we have to make sure the SC Voter ID bill is finally struck down. This bill not only affects our state but others across this nation, who are facing the same efforts to suppress voter participation….
And so on. Pretty moving, passionate stuff, huh? (Although I wish he hadn’t spoken of the extremely recent year of 1984 as though it were olden times, sitting at his grandpa’s knee. I was in my 30s and had already had three kids of my own then.) Yeah, this stuff just isn’t going away.
It’s not that I don’t see merit in what the Dems are complaining about. While I don’t think the new law imposes a significant burden (anyone can find a ride to the DMV SOMEtime during the two-year stretch between elections), I do find the motives of the Republicans off-putting.
Off-putting, but not as horrible as the Democrats think. Because I can see merit in the GOP position to this extent: I don’t believe “easier” is necessarily a good goal when it comes to voting. That runs against something deep in the soul of a Democrat, but there it is. I think this country is full of people — left, right, and middle — who don’t take voting seriously enough. This is why I oppose early voting, and virtual voting, and just about anything other than heading down to the polls and standing in line with all your neighbors on Election Day, being a part of something you are all doing together as citizens. I believe you should have to take some trouble to do it. Not unreasonable amounts of trouble, just some.
We’re expected to deplore low turnout, and I used to dutifully do so. But then I thought, and quit deploring it quite so vehemently. Because when I look at some of the horrible decisions that voters have made because they didn’t think hard enough, and I think of all those people who didn’t care enough even to take the trouble to vote, the last thing we need is to induce those apathetic souls to come out and add their thoughtless votes to the total. We don’t need more voters; we need better votes.
I digress. Back to the topic: Have Voter ID or don’t have it. But let’s not talk about it any more…