Thursday, July 20, 2017

Deconstructing America - Part Whatever

That mockery of a presidential commission sat for the first time Wednesday morning, but it was years in the making. [Dissenting Scupreme Court Justice] John Paul Stevens saw it coming. In 2000, the Supreme Court blessed official ratfcking with a constitutional imprimatur. Famously, it held that its decision in that case was "limited to the circumstances" of the 2000 election and, therefore, had no precedential value. That may be true in the nation's courts, but it has proven to be a deadly precedent in our politics.


[T]he past 17 years has been the worst period for voting rights since the collapse of Reconstruction, and it all goes back to the dynamics unleashed in our politics in 2000. In 2000, for example, Florida contracted for a voter "purge" list that disenfranchised an estimated 20,000 voters, most of them minority citizens, because their names were similar to those of convicted felons. And, now, we have the Interstate Voter Crosscheck Program, which is to that Florida purge list what an oak is to an acorn. The entire Republican political apparatus, state and federal, has been dedicated to rolling back every hard-won expansion of the franchise and democratization of the franchise back to 1913.

I chose that date because that was when the 17th Amendment calling for the direct election of senators was ratified and, as John Nichols points out in The Nation, they're even after that now. You may be comfortable handing the election of senators over to monkeyhouses like the Kansas and Texas state legislatures, but I'm not. This is, of course, part and parcel with the attempt to call a Constitutional Convention under Article V, a constitutional neutron bomb that is dangerously close to exploding.


So now we have the hideous spectacle of Kris Kobach, the manifestly dishonest secretary of state from Kansas, and the father of the Crosscheck system, having been tasked at the highest level of the federal government with delegitimizing and suppressing votes over the entire country. The spirit of the Brooks Brothers Riot that stopped the 2000 recount in Dade County is now the official policy of a presidential administration, and not by accident, either.


True, the pushback on Kobach has been vigorous. (He's getting sued so often you'd think he was President* Trump and the NAACP was a bunch of contractors he'd stiffed.) But the patterns of force unleashed 17 years ago continue unabated in our politics, in our political dialogue, and in our perceptions of ourselves as a self-governing people. Every time a citizen declines to vote because "they're all the same," and every time a citizen declines to vote because it's too much trouble, those patterns win again. And if you want an argument that every election matters, imagine where we'd be on the travel ban without state attorneys general, or where we'd be on voting rights issues without the steadfast resistance of secretaries of state around the country.

  Charles P Pierce
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

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