My old nemesis, the Voting Rights Act, took a powerful blow because of wily House Speaker Dennis Hastert
Speaker Dennis Hastert was ready to move forward with a feel-good, election-year extension of the landmark 1965 act that guaranteed voting rights for African Americans disenfranchised by Jim Crow law and custom in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina and Virginia. In 1975 the act was expanded to cover Alaska, Texas and Arizona, where citizens with limited command of English — Latinos, mostly — were being treated as if they were black folks in the South.
Hastert understood that reauthorizing the act would be useful in efforts to convince voters that the Republican Party as presently constituted is just ultraconservative, not actually racist. But Hastert was sandbagged by fellow Republicans who rebelled in a private caucus meeting Wednesday. The renewal probably could have won easy approval on the House floor, since Democrats would have voted for it, but Hastert’s policy is to not bring out any bill that lacks majority support from Republicans, so he had no choice but to yank it.
This is great news.
I’ve written before on the unAmerican nature of the Voting Rights Act, so I won’t belabor those point now. Suffice it to say that the VRA attacks both democracy and the complex adaptive system we call the United States.
What’s interesting to me is the line that it is Hastert’s policy is to not bring out any bill that lacks majority support from Republicans.. If this is true, it means that the same philosopher which makes the Speaker stall on immigration reform also makes him stall on renewing the VRA (hopefully leading, of course, to the VRA’s expiration in 2007).
Given the choice between pushing immigration reform package against the Republicans in the House, or stopping the VRA with the Republicans in the House, I choose stopping the VRA. America’s greatness lies, partly, in her rule-set, her protection of the fifty united States as they try this and that, evolving their way to fitness. We need workers, but ultimately the ratio of capital and labor is a quantitative benefit to the United States, while the nationalist straitjacket of the VRA is a qualitative loss.
So quality over quantity, and sinking the VRA over reforming immigration this year, if it comes to that.
Thank you Dennis Hastert. You made the right call.