'Left Lives in the Past on Voting Rights'

Actually, only the first five words of Jonathan Tobin’s headline at Commentary are really necessary, but he’s certainly right on this issue:

The Voting Rights Act was needed in 1965 because for a century the federal government had failed to enforce the 15th Amendment—that guaranteed the right to vote of former slaves and any other American citizen—in the states of the old Confederacy. Though Americans were long taught that the period of “Radical Reconstruction” that followed the Civil War was an abuse that was rightly abandoned, the truth is the attempt to reconstruct the south didn’t go far enough and was ended too soon. What ensued was a Jim Crow regime in the south that was kept in place by a Democratic coalition of northern liberals and southern racists and enabled by apathetic Republicans. That is a sorry chapter of American history, but the achievements of the civil rights era have put it firmly in our past.

The reality of 2013 is that even the left is hard pressed to find anyplace in the country where anyone who is legally entitled to vote and wants to exercise their franchise is being prevented from doing so. Stating that is not to deny that racism still exists in some quarters of American society anymore than any other species of hatred. Nor does it imply that our electoral system is perfect or incapable of betterment. But to leave in place a legal formula that treated some states differently than others solely because of history is not only absurd, it is unconstitutional discrimination. In a country where, as it was argued before the court, Mississippi may have a more healthy voting rights environment in some respects than Massachusetts, preserving the battle lines of the fight against Jim Crow is not only meaningless, it actually hampers efforts to combat illegal practices.


Of course, when you call yourself “Progressive,” and yet remain enthrall to ideology that’s over a century old, living in the past is a serious occupational hazard. Speaking of which, the gang at MSNBC are having all sorts of them today. As Twitchy notes, after the Supreme Court’s decision, “Melissa Harris-Perry laments loss of citizenship” in the horrible nation that she’s indicated loathing on numerous occasions, and Al Sharpton, not surprisingly, had a meltdown of his own:

Sharpton added he and other civil rights leaders expected to call an emergency summit about the high court’s decision. But he went on to say that decision nullified Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream.

“What they just done is really revoked a lot of what Dr. King’s dream was all about,” Sharpton said. “We built a monument to Dr. King and part of — at least half of what Dr. King’s dream was about was voter rights, ’65. They just revoked that. They just cancelled the dream and the children of the dream are not going to sit by and allow that to happen.”

Because if there’s one man who’s spent his career single-handedly building a colorblind society, it’s Al Sharpton.


Update: “MSNBC’s Chris Hayes is ‘physically enraged’ by the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a key part of the Voting Rights Act.” Hulk rip lavaliere mic off blazer! Hulk smash Sony HD minicam! Goodnight puny human!


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