Reversing Democracy [BIGOT ALERT]

This column in the Washington Post pretty well outlines the half dozen ploys by which the GOP is attempting to limit the voting population to Republicans.

One of the basic history lessons, that used to be taught in American schools, was that over time America became more democratic. At first propertied men over the age of 21 could vote followed by the revolution of Andy Jackson when all white males were given the vote. The Civil War Amendments issued in the vote for black males although because of the “black codes” that right was largely theoretical. When Wyoming entered the union with a male population too small to be granted statehood it pragmatically added women to the voting rolls thereby acquiring overnight the necessary population for admission. That was followed decades later by an Amendment allowing women the franchise and in the 1960’s the southern laws which denied most black Americans the vote were made illegal leading to the wholesale movement of white southern voters into the GOP. In the 1970’s the franchise for Federal elections was lowered to the age of 18.

One important rule, especially popular in the South, preventing ex felons from voting has gained greater acceptance which has been especially useful to limit the number of votes available to Democrats. About 1 in every 8 black men is denied a vote because of prison time. But as the story makes clear the GOP is hell bent on making voting a chore and a hurdle for those of limited means. Don’t have a car and a driver’s licence? Sorry, you will still need a government document with photograph on it. Want to register on the day of the election? Sorry, you will have to do it weeks in advance.

Some Republican pundits have even gone back to the 1700’s by arguing that property qualifications should be enforced again leaving God knows how many poor people disenfrancised. The use of the felicitous phrase “pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence still sticks in some people’s craw because they would have preferred that it read “property.”