It’s an understandable quirk, akin to my strong negative feelings about Israel. When Nigerians or Hungarians or the French behave like bullies (I’m thinking about the French rounding up the Gypsies – excuse me, the Roma), well that’s too bad, they should know better, phone U.N. customer service, but when my lantslaite behave like bullies, I feel it reflects on me and I am ashamed and very angry.
Knee-jerk reactions are almost as common among liberals as among conservatives. I know Democrats who actually feel that a Republican is evil by definition. When I point out that it may be wrong to believe less government is better, but it is hardly evil (I can think of a number of locales in recent history in which less government would have been an excellent option), and that there are elements of conservatism that have as rational a basis as liberalism, they nod their heads, agree in principle, but continue to tar every Republican politician with the brush of evil.
The New York Times today, in its editorial about the Supreme Court decision striking down the portion of the Voting Rights Act that singles out for greater scrutiny and oversight particular Southern States as well as smaller jurisdictions, including Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx, was a knee-jerk reaction.
Chief Justice Roberts, writing for the majority, said, “Our country has changed. . . While any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.”
According to The Times’ editorial, the Court was being disingenuous, “intellectually dishonest,” is how The Times put it, because it knows that our deadlocked Congress is unlikely to pass voting rights legislation to replace that which was struck down. The Times is correct in saying that whether or not the current Congress is deadlocked is something which the Court should not take into account. Furthermore, it will take only one election – perhaps the next one – to break that deadlock.
Roberts' call for new legislation does ignore the fact that Congress is deadlocked. That's not the Court's problem. Supreme Court decisions are made for the ages -- pace the terrible 2000 election decision -- which is why the Citizens United decision will be seen by future historians as as much of a debacle as the Dred Scott decision.
In the 2012 election, nineteen states attempted (with varying degrees of success) to pass voting restrictions which would have impacted black and/or Latino minorities: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin. The states sanctioned by the 1965 Voting Rights Act were Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. In the face of those two lists alone, the Court call for updated legislation (“our country has changed") is reasonable. After all, if the law were to stand as written, the thirteen offending states not on the original list (and any other states whose legislatures might come to be dominated by die-hard Republicans) would not fall under mandated oversight.
And, speaking about our changing country: the Census Bureau recently announced that in 2012, for the first time, the white population of the United States declined. The minority that will have to be protected in New York State by the time my grandson reaches voting age, may be white.