I woke up this morning wanting to write a thoroughly informative article about the Voting Rights Act, a law put in place in 1965 to protect the voting rights of racial minorities, particularly African-Americans, in the South. This law doesn’t just single out the Bible Belt; California, Florida, New York, North Carolina and South Dakota, and some parts of Michigan and New Hampshire are also included. It essentially provides a safety net to ensure fair voting practices in places where racial discrimination tends to flourish. When a state or county wants to implement any in an evolving range of voter suppression tactics like, say, literacy tests, or failing to provide multi-lingual ballots, they have to run these — and any — changes past the Federal government, who will then tell them if it’s okay or if they’re being dicks to minorities again. In other words, it’s a no-brainer. It’s a cornerstone of post-Civil Rights era equality maintenance in our country. Which is why the law was almost unanimously renewed in Congress in 2006. Considering how the cooperative dream team on Capitol Hill can’t mutually agree on where to eat lunch, let alone anything of legislative import, the fact that reps on both sides are on the same page with this act is a fairly resounding indicator of its worth.
Specifically, I woke up wanting to address the comments that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made last week calling the law a “racial entitlement”, and asserting that it has never been overturned because members of Congress can’t find a downside to having it (I know — talking about the lack of flaws in a law hardly seems like an argument against it. If there’s no downside to having it, and it prevents discriminatory practices within the most fundamental realm of democratic engagement our countries has, then why would we get rid of it?) I wanted to discuss the absurdity of an old white man sitting in Washington talking about how racism and discrimination are successfully conquered issues of the past. Anyone with even a vague connection to reality knows that present-day echoes of the Jim Crow South are vibrantly alive, and have even extended their impact to other minority groups.
I wanted to talk about all of this in a thoughtful way that was also somehow funny and charming…but then I saw that those bastards on SNL beat me to it. And did a way better job than I could have. So watch them.