Thursday, June 22, 2006

Some good news, and a lesson

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I am less than thrilled with the President and the congressional Republicans over a number of issues. However I believe that however much of a disappointment they may have been in however many areas that it is vital to keep them in control of both houses of congress. Here from today’s Washington Post is a good reason why.

House leaders abruptly canceled a vote to renew the 1965 Voting Rights Act yesterday after rank-and-file Republicans revolted over provisions that require bilingual ballots in many places and continued federal oversight of voting practices in Southern states.

The intensity of the complaints, raised in a closed meeting of GOP lawmakers, surprised Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and his lieutenants, who thought the path was clear to renew the act's key
provisions for 25 years. The act is widely considered a civil rights landmark that helped thousands of African Americans gain access to the ballot box. Its renewal seemed assured when House and Senate Republican and Democratic leaders embraced it in a May 2 kickoff on the Capitol steps.

But many Southerners feel the law has achieved its purpose and become more nuisance than necessity in several respects. They have aired those arguments for years, but yesterday they got a boost from Republicans scattered throughout the nation who are increasingly raising a different concern: They insist that immigrants learn and use English.


The immigration debate, which has preoccupied Congress for much of the year, included complaints that too many immigrants fail to learn English; the Senate version of the legislation declared English the "national language." House GOP leaders said the issues are unrelated, because only those immigrants who have become U.S. citizens are allowed to vote, while the immigration debate focuses on illegal immigrants.

A very good argument can be made that the Voting Rights Act was once necessary, but that day has passed. The Ku Klux Klan is a hollow shell of what it once was and the attitudes that fed that kind of racism in the white community are dead as well.

In today’s America the Act serves only two purposes, neither legitimate, one as a stick for liberals to continue to beat the conservative South in order to delegitimize conservatism, the other as a convenient framework on which other unsavory provisions, like the bilingual ballot laws, can be hung.

It is time and passed time for the Voting Rights Act to be allowed to fade into the sunset. Not to bring back the bad old days of Jim Crow when robed Klansmen on horseback surrounded polling places to make sure that no Blacks were allowed to vote, but to acknowledge the present reality that such robed poll watchers would be as unwelcome by White Southerners as Black.

Without Republican control of the House of Representatives this would have never happened. Without Republican control of the House of Representatives the Brady gun control law would never have been allowed to sunset.

No Republican control of congress and there would have been no tax cuts and no economic recovery like we are now enjoying. Without Republican control of the House the immigration reform bill passed by Senate Democrats with the help of a handful of RINO backstabbers would today be the law of the land.

As much as the temptations of the inside-the-beltway life tend to pull elected Republicans off the reservation from time to time (immigration, Harriet Meiers, the DP World Port deal) recent history shows that concerted action by conservative grass roots activists, talk radio, and the internet can whip them back into shape.

The same can not be said of Democrats. No amount of pressure from the right-wing blogosphere or talk radio will change Ted Kennedy’s mind on anything. Let’s not throw out the people we can influence and replace them with people who will never listen to us just because “our guys” don’t always pay perfect attention.

Of course there are some “Republican” traitors who do more harm than good and should be removed, John McCain and his wretched little hand-puppet Lindsay Graham come to mind, but that is a topic for another day.