Libertarianism by another name
Re “The GOP’s moral trap” (Opinion, July 31): This is the Libertarian Party, not the Republican Party, despite their attempts at anonymity. Until you start acknowledging that, people will continue to try to understand and react to a ghost. This explains the current GOP’s attempts to disenfranchise as many voters as they can, as well as defund Medicare and Medicaid, end the Affordable Care Act, destroy unions, and ignore climate change. The rich minority can never get government out of their “liberty” (their term for unrestricted capitalism) as long as majority rule and democracy are the law of the land. If you don’t know who your enemy is, you cannot effectively combat it. Time to start calling the devil by his name. Or recognize his newest form.
An important distinction in voting rights
Thomas Patterson’s fifth in an excellent series of essays (”The GOP’s moral trap”) begins with an error that should not be glossed over in these times of Black Lives Matter. He asserts that at its inception, “The Republican Party . . . stood for equality for Black Americans.” Undeniably, that party opposed the institution of slavery. Yet even Lincoln himself stated (in the first Lincoln-Douglas debate, August 1858), “I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and the black races. There is physical difference between the two, which in my judgment will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality.”
The Republican-authored ideals of the 14th and 15th Amendments regarding racial equality in voting have been nothing more than a feel-good pat on our collective backs, while racists — first as Dixiecrats, now as Republicans — have used legislated obstructions to deny people of color their right to vote (at times “with surgical precision,” according to the Fourth US Circuit Court of Appeals). The 14th Amendment requires that when the right to vote is denied, “or in any way abridged . . . the basis of representation . . . shall be reduced.” This means that if a state prevents, or even interferes with, voting by any of its citizens, it “shall” (not “may”) lose representation in Congress. Congress has the power to enforce this provision, but since the provision itself is not discretionary, that power is in fact a duty. For a century and a half, Congress has ignored its mandated duty regarding states that have and continue to flagrantly suppress voting by minorities. The time has come for Congress to give substance to our constitutional ideals, and reduce the delegations of those states that impede voting by minority citizens.
Disenfranchising the homeless
Regarding the GOP’s ongoing voter suppression campaign, Patterson points to a North Dakota law requiring voters to “have written proof of a residential address before they are eligible to vote. The law targets Native Americans who live on rural tribal lands, which don’t have street names and numbers on all of their roads. Here, too, the Supreme Court’s Republican appointees, in a 5-to-4 decision, allowed the policy to stand.”
Doesn’t that not only disenfranchise the First People the law was targeting, but also all homeless US citizens? Does homelessness also now deprive you of the right to vote? How far are we from allowing only white male landowners to have the franchise if we continue on this path? Boy, those “originalists” on the Supreme Court really weren’t kidding.