Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A Big-Government Idea for Our Big Mouths

Steve Bennen notes that the GOP congress is split over renewal of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), which was signed by Johnson back in '65 to open up the voting process to minorities. There's some provisions that say districts with a history of discrimination (i.e., the south) must submit any voting changes to the Attorney General for approval, and there's some other provisions that require multilingual ballots. Eighty reps want those provisions removed, some cuz of the racial thing and some for the bilingual thing.

The argument for getting rid of the anti-discrimination provisions is twofold: one, the problems are pretty much gone, and two, it's simply un-American to treat one group of voters differently from another. (The multilingual thing seems like it's really part of the larger immigration debate, so I don't plan on addressing it here.)

The persistence of discrimination can be debated. Maybe someone like Otto Man could make it interesting and entertaining (he'll be back soon - I promise), but it's way too hot and humid here in metro DC for me to bother with it. Besides, too often we get caught up in debating these underlying issues and miss out on what might be an easier solution. Today is all about the path of least resistance.

Instead of trying to cut away parts of the VRA, which really ain't gonna happen, why not just expand it? Instead of singling out the south, let's just assume that every voting district in the country is susceptible to discrimination and have them submit their voting changes to the Atty Gen. And instead of just being about race, let's expand the definition of "discrimination" to include all the stuff our equal employment laws stipulate: age, gender, physical appearance, religion, economic status, etc.

My conservative friends might say expanding VRA would be terrible, because this would be an expansion of gov't bureaucracy and would be expensive and so on. My knee-jerk response would be to chuckle and recount the ways in which small-gov't conservatives have made our gov't fatter than Michael Moore. This would feel great but would be pretty unproductive, which tells me I should leave it for the Bushes and Zidanes of the world.

So instead I'd tell them to think of it as an investment. Politicians have to spend millions just for the chance to win a house seat; if you were going to spend millions of dollars on something, wouldn't you want to know you had a fair chance of reaping the rewards? Also, investing in our voter integrity at home might help us win hearts and minds abroad. Think of it as an exercise in those democratic, small "L" liberal ideals that we keep barfing on the Iraqis. Show them that we mean it about fairly elected governments and all that.

Let's put a small amount of money where our big fat mouths are.

10 comments:

Smitty said...

How would investing in voting changes work? Who pays whom? And for what?

Tokyo Joe said...

But the thing is, TH, politicians don't want a fair chance at being elected - they want ann unfair advantage.

It's like Johnny Caspar said, "It's gettin' so a businessman can't expect no return from a fixed fight. Now, if you can't trust a fix, what can you trust? For a good return, you gotta go bettin' on chance - and then you're back with anarchy, right back in the jungle."

Mrs_Thrillhous said...

I'm gonna be awfully close to delivery on election day, so I hope they don't ask me a bunch of questions that require thinking. Well, unless they let my husband speak for me. He's escorting me to the booth, right?

alex supertramp said...

what the fuck Otto - got no love for syd???

RIP....you crazy whacked out diamond

Thrillhous said...

I hear you Alex. I felt like I was unequal to the task of memorializing such a legend, so I just poured out a little of my 40 for my homey Syd.

Very true, TJ. That's really the rub, that they don't want truly fair elections, they just don't want no feds snooping around when they're trying to pull their own shenanigans.

Sadly, Virginia no longer allows the MAN to accompany the wife into the voting booth so that he may ensure she makes the correct picks. Seeing as how the state doesn't think I should get to vote twice, I see no need for me to take anybody anywhere. Last I checked, the buses still run in our neighborhood!

Mike said...

Virginia allows women to vote . . . alone???

My, oh my. First they free the slaves, then they remove the anti-miscegenation statutes from the books, then they give women the vote, and now they let them into the booths alone.

What's next? Jews? Asians? Jews marrying Asians and sending their mixed children to public schools?!

red, white and brew said...

Great, let's expand special protections to voting, so regular white guys will have no rights.

Brilliant!

What next? You liberals want special rights for gays to hold hands in the voting booth?

Mike said...

RW&B-

"What next? You liberals want special rights for gays to hold hands in the voting booth?:

Nah! Why bother with such ordinary stuff. I favor special rights for angry, militant gays to bone your ignorant ass in the voting booth.

Otto Man said...

Great, let's expand special protections to voting, so regular white guys will have no rights.

Yes, because as we all know, (a) protecting the voting rights of others somehow removes rights from other Americans and (b) regular white guys are the most oppressed minority in the whole wide world.

Jesus. Cry me a river, Felicity.

alex supertramp said...

so okay, I thought red, white and brew was kidding - I mean the dude says "you liberals", WTF .. I then I went to his blog (G. Dubya Rules..hehehe good one dude) and the header that mentions the concern of "liberal threat" - but hey, we live in America, where we honor the right to be a close-minded douchebag if you so choose.....
speaking of asses - that Felicity does have a fine one!!