Sunday, March 8, 2015

Selma, Meet Ernestine

I should write something solemn about the fiftieth anniversary of the first attempted voting-rights march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama (a second one turned out much better two weeks later), and all the strife and struggle that black Americans went through to obtain the right to vote, guaranteed to black men ninety-five years earlier by the Fifteenth Amendment, but I can't.  I have to comment on the Republicans' folly in the marking of the anniversary this weekend.
President Obama, former marcher and current U.S. Representative John Lewis (D-GA), and many others - including former President George Walker Bush - attended a memorial ceremony at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, but not a single member of the congressional Republican leadership - not John Boehner, not Mitch McConnell, and certainly not that snooty Kevin McCarthy - was present.  Gee, I wonder why - were they in fear for, perhaps, their political careers?  They can't be seen anywhere near Obama, right?
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 - you know, the one that was recently gutted by the Supreme Court - radically realigned the two parties, making the Republican Party more white and more conservative while making the Democrats . . . well, I'm not sure what they are these days.  The Republicans' strongholds are in the conservative South and the mostly white Great Plains, while the Democrats are strongest in the Northeast, the Great Lakes region, and the West Coast.  The increasingly racial diversity of the U.S. population should spell doom for the GOP, but Republicans control both houses of Congress and hold governorships even in Democratic states while controlling over two-thirds of the state legislatures.  So, again, it is the Democrats who are the ones in trouble.  
The Republicans have done this thanks to gerrymandering, voter suppression, and unregulated campaign financing to make sure that black people can't vote, or, if they do, their votes won't count or will be negated by money.  Add in a little resentment-stoking, such as mentioning how so many blacks are on welfare (though more whites are), calling the President "lazy" or "un-American,"  and maybe reminding the average young white male voter that rappers are making lots of money and living in trophy houses while said average white guy works at the Wal-Mart out on the edge of North Flintstone and lives on ramen noodles while living at home with his parents (so what if the real reason poor white guys can't ahead is because of the rich white guys who employ them and underpay them, and that rappers hardly reflect black America at large?) and, well . . . 
The Republicans have a lock on power because they've diluted the vote - the same vote that could be used to kick them out of office.  Even after non-whites, and Hispanics (who are of any and every race), become the majority in the United States, the overwhelmingly white Republican Party will still be in charge.  Of course they're indifferent to voting rights.  They're like Lily Tomlin's old telephone operator character Ernestine.  
They don't care.
They don't have to.   

1 comment:

Steve said...

Oops! Correction: It turns out that Kevin McCarthy did attend the Selma anniversary celebration after all.