While it's useful to see the Supreme Court's heinous decision
in terms of America's history of racial discrimination, it is even more useful to see it in terms of the GOP's ongoing efforts to use the "voter fraud" myth as a means of suppressing the Democratic vote.
Who loses today? Not just the tens of millions of minority voters whose ability to cast a ballot now may be more easily restricted by new voting laws. Not just the millions who now will be more vulnerable to redistricting plans that are patently discriminatory. But the poor, the elderly, and the ill of all races, men and women who have voted lawfully for years but who will not be able to find the money to pay for new identification cards, or take the time out of work to travel to state offices to get one, or have the health to make the journey to obtain identification they otherwise do not need. These people, everywhere, were the indirect beneficiaries of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. And today their right to vote is far less secure.*
So the losers today are registered voters like Craig Debose, a Vietnam veteran and longtime resident of South Carolina. Last year, he traveled 11 hours by train to Washington to testify in a Section 5 lawsuit. He doesn't have a car, which is why he didn't have photo identification, which is why he was going to be disenfranchised by state lawmakers until the Voting Rights Act saved him (for at least the last election cycle, the South Carolina law is still on the books). Losing today, too, is Jacqueline Kane, an elderly woman in Pennsylvania who had voted lawfully without incident for decades but who would have been forced from her nursing home to get an identification card. All to prevent "voter fraud" no one can prove.
Voter ID laws will now immediately go into effect in Texas
, which -- as you may not know -- has been inching away from the red zone
. I would go so far as to say that immediate impetus for this decision may have been a desire to keep Texas out of the blue.
The Court's decision gives the "go" signal to racially biased gerrymandering. Not long ago, there was an attempt in one Texas county to place all the Latino voters in one district in order to dilute their strength in neighboring districts. Expect to see much of that sort of trickery.
Here are my three main takeaways from this rotten decision:
1. Those purer-than-pure lefties who claim to see no difference between the parties are fools. (This blog seems to attract more than its share of people who think this way.) If no substantive difference exists, then the voting suppression tactics discussed above would serve no purpose, and the Justices who voted for today's decision would not all have been chosen by Republican presidents.
2. The GOP is doubling down on the Nixonian Southern strategy. I both agree and disagree with Joshua Green
On its face, this looks like a big victory for Republicans. But is it really? I suspect it will turn out to be a poisoned chalice. Many of the GOP’s current problems stem from the fact that it is overly beholden to its white, Southern base at a time when the country is rapidly becoming more racially diverse. In order to expand its base of power beyond the House of Representatives, the GOP needs to expand its appeal to minority voters. As the ongoing battle over immigration reform demonstrates, that process is going poorly and looks like it will be very difficult.
I agree that this decision will serve to prolong the GOP's image as the party of racism. I disagree with the "poisoned chalice" remark. Both the party and the nation will acclimate itself to this toxin.
The Republicans have been pushing the "voter fraud" myth very hard since at least 2004. They would not propagate the fable if they did not have polls and other data telling them that voter ID laws work to their advantage.
3. The ultimate targets of the disenfranchisement movement are not blacks and Latinos but the homeless, the jobless and the disaffected. Even desperate people who find lodgings with relatives may suddenly find themselves unable to pay student loans or the IRS. Such people probably number in the millions. They will not want to divulge their addresses to the compilers of any official database, which is precisely what voter ID laws demand.
The modern economy is creating a growing lumpenproletariat. Even people with jobs -- even college teachers
-- now find themselves living in cars, shelters and public parks. Another economic shock could cause the number of desperately poor people to skyrocket. Voter ID laws will grant these economic victims no way to exact political punishment on the corrupt officeholders who ruined their lives.
Barred from the voting booth, the very poor will have no outlet but rebellion. And as you know, there are plans in place for that
contingency as well. A big part of that planning is the development of non-lethal weaponry. An even bigger part is our hideously oppressive domestic surveillance infrastructure.
Which once again brings us, by a commodius vicus of recirculation, back to Ed Snowden and Environs...