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Friday, August 05, 2005

VOTING RIGHTS — AND RESPONSIBLE VOTING: With key provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act due to expire in 2007, get ready to watch the civil rights establishment use the legacy of Martin Luther King to argue for policies that contradict the spirit of King's commitment to equal opportunity before the law. America's grievance hustlers are keen to see Section 203 renewed, ensuring that ballots in languages other than English be provided in districts where large numbers of voters haven't taken time to master the de facto national language of the United States. Failing to provide non-English ballots supposedly violates their "voting rights."

I can't help wondering when we might reasonably expect "voter responsibility" to enter the picture. The civil rights establishment has gotten very good at using the language of "oppressive structures" to rationalize their campaign for special privileges in the name of equal access. Among the most trenchant oppressive structures are those that reside in the human mind: chronic beliefs that function to convince individuals to postpone assuming responsibility for pursuing success strategies in the arena of life at large. Highly accomplished leaders of today's civil rights establishment faced obstacles, but they all made it to college and pursued big dreams: Jesse Jackson (Chicago Theological Seminary); Al Sharpton (Brooklyn College); Maxine Waters (California State University), John Lewis (Fisk University); Julian Bond (Morehouse College). Yet these same activist elites have worked tirelessly to keep their constituencies in states of dependence, in order that the elites can reinforce their own inflated sense of virtue. It's an old, tired, pathological game. It's time to bust the racket. Forty years after the Civil Rights Act became law, voter turnout among minority groups continues to lag behind that of whites. In other words, people make choices. In further words, with each election registered voters of diverse races, ethnicities, genders, and ideologies choose to exercise the franchise or not to. It's pathetic to see the civil rights establishment continue blaming their favorite demon, "residual racism":

San Francisco's Rev. Cecil Williams, who organized planeloads of city residents to march in voting rights demonstrations in the South in the 1960s, said it turned out to be harder than organizers thought to mobilize black voters into a powerful bloc. "There's a base of people who felt their vote would never count,'' he said. "It is very, very difficult to get people to vote when they have been disenfranchised their entire lives."
Whoa, Rev. Williams. Blacks who were 21 years old in 1965 became eligible to vote that year. Today they're 61. That's what you call a lifetime of disenfranchisement? If so, it's time for social scientists to study why individuals voluntarily choose to be enfeebled rather than empowered over the course of a lifetime. Let me repeat that word: individuals (persons possessed of the capacity to make informed choices about how to spend their days). It's time to let Section 203 expire to the same graveyard where the Jim Crow laws rightly got buried. Americans who lack English literacy also lack — by definition — the necessary citizenship skills to be informed voters.

The State of Georgia recently decided to require voters to show official identification. Opponents say this will discourage voting among the poor. In principle, here the solution would be to reimburse poor people their expense in procuring valid ID (birth certificate, drivers license, passport). The solution is not to establish a bogus legal equivalence between low income and lack of documented identity.

And when we get serious about tackling America's immigration nightmare, let's insist on what Newt Gingrich calls patriotic immigration:

Establish patriotic education for our children and patriotic immigration for new Americans. To achieve this, we will renew our commitment to education about American citizenship based on American history and an understanding of the Founding Fathers and the core values of American civilization. We will insist that both our children and immigrants learn the key values and key facts of American history as the foundation of their growth as citizens.

• No Dual Citizens • Make English The Primary Language • We must make learning profitable for the young by offering direct rewards for poor children who buckle down, do their homework, and learn.
Needless to say, it will take enormous political courage to support this agenda in today's political environment, where grievance groups label as racist any politician who doesn't succumb to pressures to replace equal opportunity with equal outcomes. GOP strategists who want to capture a larger share of the Latino/Hispanic voters will be especially susceptible to this pressure. They need to hear from Americans who have read the Constitution and understand what it means. Now more than ever.