Posts Tagged ‘politics’

I don’t see how you can be President without a relationship with the Lord.
-President George Bush, 2005

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The second coming of Christ is everything that I’m living for. I hope the rapture comes tomorrow.
-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, 2007

America has no King but Jesus
-Attorney General John Ashcroft, 2004

The Republican Party of Texas affirms that the United States of America is a Christian Nation
-Official platform, GOP, Texas

Apparently some people think it can’t happen here in America – at least according to many of the comments on the various places my last article appeared. (See part one: “What will happen when the Christian right takes over”.)

Well, let’s discuss this.

Can you think of other examples throughout world history in which fundamentalist, right-wing, religious extremists have gained images-210power and plunged their country into a dark ages-like society of ignorance, oppression and fear? I’m sure you can – I can think of probably eight examples right now, without even using Google. So why couldn’t this happen here? All it takes are four ingredients, all of which are present right now in America.

1. A large group of religiously inspired fundamentalist leaders who are committed to seeing their religious texts made to be the law of the land. Check.

2. A large group of religiously inspired citizens willing to follow and support said powerful people. Check.

3. A perceived enemy. Check.

4. A persecution complex. Check.

Let’s briefly take these one at a time:

A large minority of religiously inspired fundamentalist leaders who are committed to seeing their religious texts made to be the law of the land.

images-211Dominionism, as I’ve written about previously, simply means that Christians have the responsibility to take over every aspect of society and to govern solely in accordance with Biblical law. These Christians believe that until we have a theocracy, Jesus will be delayed in His return.

In short, Jesus will come only after Christians succeed in establishing Christian rule over the earth.

Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ — to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness.

But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice.
It is dominion we are after. Not just influence.
It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time.
It is dominion we are after.
World conquest. That’s what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish.
-George Grant, executive director of D. James Kennedy’s Coral Ridge Ministries, in “The Changing of the Guard.”

Let’s go back to 2005. By that time, the Christian right was well on its way to gaining control. James Dobson and his ilk had succeeded in bringing their brand of fundamentalist Christianity from the fringes of American life to the heart of political power.

images-212By 2005, 42 out of 100 US senators were entirely supportive of the Christian right agenda, holding ratings of 100 percent from the Christian Coalition. Extreme fundamentalists entered the US Senate, including Tom Coburn of Oklahoma (calling for the death penalty for doctors who perform abortions) and Jim DeMint (wanting to ban unmarried pregnant women from teaching in public schools). Fundamentalist Christian theology was already driving our federal policy on medical research (with the ban on stem cell research), sex education (which the government decreed should focus exclusively on abstinence), and US foreign policy in the Middle East (where an important driver of US policy was the need to have Jerusalem in the hands of the Jews in order to satisfy a biblical condition to the second coming of Christ). The federal government was channeling billions in taxpayer funds to evangelical organizations.

And new legislation was being introduced almost weekly. A few examples, among hundreds: Have you heard of the Constitution Restoration Act? This law would have prevented federal courts from hearing church/state separation cases. Seriously. How about the House of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act, which would have allowed tax-exempt churches to engage in partisan political activity?

And all this has continued, and it has actually picked up speed.

Did you know that there are many Christians, including in government, who believe that all Old Testament punishments, includingNew-Fundamentalism stoning, should be restored?

Did you know that in Oklahoma, to name just one example, most state-wide executive offices are held by evangelicals, along with over 85% of the legislature? And most of them support the entire agenda – criminalization of homosexuality, adultery and blasphemy (seriously!), the death penalty for doctors who perform abortions, reinstatement of mandatory school prayer, a requirement that Genesis be taught in science classes – all based on the Bible as ultimate law. They call their vision of America a “Christian Nation,” and all that stands in the way of that vision is the federal court system.

A large group of religiously inspired citizens willing to follow and support said powerful people.

73%-76% of Americans self identify as Christian.

Six-in-ten white evangelical Protestants say that the Bible should be the guiding principle in making laws when it conflicts with the will of the people.

Seven-in-ten white evangelicals (69%) believe God gave Israel to the Jewish people and a solid majority (59%) believes that Israel is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Significantly, those who believe that God gave Israel to the Jews and that the state of Israel fulfills biblical prophecy are much more likely than others to sympathize with Israel in its dispute with the Palestinians.

An overwhelming percentage of Christians (79%) say they believe in the second coming of Jesus Christ, and fully 62% of white evangelicals say the Bible is the actual word of God, to be taken literally.

A perceived enemy

Anti-Semitism served other totalitarian movements well, but it is currently off-limits. Communism worked for a while, but has faded as a credible threat following the fall of the Soviet Union. So which enemy did American fundamentalists choose? They picked two:

1. Secularism is the big one, which, they argue, is really a competing religion. It’s what they’ve been fighting for years.

images-2132. The “homosexual agenda.” Preachers preach that the rise of homosexuality is the surest sign of the coming end times. Conservative preachers remind the faithful over and over that the rise of homosexuality is God’s way of testing humanity – if we tolerate the abomination, then we are irrevocably lost and abandoned by God.

The official platform of the Texas Republican Party states:

Homosexuality is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans.

A persecution complex

robertsonA common strategy of fundamentalists the world over is to claim victimhood, and our country’s evangelical preachers have successfully tapped into the “persecuted church” paradigm. The growth of a modern, secular, and tolerant society, they argue, really is about the tyrannical suppression of Christianity, because the idea of a secular and tolerant society is inconsistent with Christian claims to dominion over civil society. In an Orwellian twist, “religious tolerance” becomes, to the right-wingers, intolerant and tyrannical. Extension of basic civil liberties to those who engage in a sexual practice that is taboo to fundamentalists becomes an attack on the Christian church in which Christians are the true victims. Permitting gays to marry becomes an attack on marriage in which married people are somehow victimized. Abortion is seen as an attack on God and, by extension, on Christians. Not allowing teachers to teach scripture as science is now “persecution” of Christians. See how this works? Basically, if they can’t have things their way, they are being persecuted.

Pat Robertson kicked this whole thing off in the early 1990’s when he stated:

Just like what Nazi Germany did to the Jews, so liberal America is now doing to Evangelical Christians. It’s no different. It is happening all over again. It is the Democratic Congress, the liberal-based media, and the homosexuals who want to destroy the Christians. Wholesale abuse and discrimination and the worst bigotry directed toward any group in America today. More terrible than anything suffered by any minority group in history.

Do you hear how bizarre, how sick this thinking is? A former candidate for president asserting that the treatment of evangelical Christians by “liberal America” was more terrible than the treatment of Cambodians at the hands of Pol Pot, of the Tutsi minority by the Hutu majority in Rwanda, the Bosnian Muslims by the Serbs, the Jews by the Nazis, the early Christians by the Romans, the Native Americans by the Spanish, the slaves by the slave owners? Just…wow.

According to the fundamentalists, if our society does NOT base its laws on the bronze age morality found in the Christian Bible, then it’s Christians who are being persecuted and victimized.

oppression

———————————————–

So, again I ask – why do people think that religious extremists could never plunge this country into the kind of hell that’s going on in Afghanistan and so many other countries around the world? Because our extremists follow a different religion and read a different set of sacred texts?

In Salem, Massachusetts, in 1683, 83% of taxpayers stated that they “had no religious allegiance.” There is not a single mention of God in the US Constitution. And although deists and theocrats and religious dissidents of all stripes were among the earliest settlers of the New World, the political project that was America was first and foremost a project of the enlightenment, where freedom from state religion – the source of so much turmoil and tragedy in European history – was among the core objectives.

See part 3:  Lock and Load!  The new Christian Right rhetoric

american-flag-cross-1This is actually pretty scary…but stoppable.  But please don’t think it can’t happen in America.  It already is a work in progress, and it needs to be resisted.

Have you heard of Dominionism?  Or Christian Nationalism?  This is the belief that Christians need to establish a Christian reign on earth before Jesus returns for the second coming.  Dominionists/Christian Nationalists also believe that Christians in general have a God-given right to rule, but more particularly, in preparation for the second coming of Christ, that Christian’s have the responsibility to take over every aspect of political and civil society.  And here is what makes this even scarier:  They believe that this Christian-led society should be governed strictly according to biblical law.

Do you think I’m making this up?

Ever hear of George Grant’s “The Changing of the Guard?”   Grant is executive director of D. James Kennedy’s Coral Ridge Ministries, and he wrote:

Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ — to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness.

But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice.
It is dominion we are after. Not just influence.
It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time.
It is dominion we are after.
World conquest. That’s what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish.

Christian nationalists believe in a revisionist history, which holds that the founders were devout Christians who never intended to images-205create a secular republic; separation of church and state, according to this history, is a fraud perpetrated by God-hating subversives.  The goal of Christian nationalist politics is the restoration of the imagined Christian nation.

Click HERE for an example of this just this month:  Republican Christians in Texas rewrote children’s history books  to reflect a more biblical world view.

Just last month, senators and presidential hopefuls Rand Paul, Rick Perry and Ted Cruz were in Iowa as featured speakers at a closed-door event for conservative pastors organized by David Lane, an anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-Mormon, Christian-nation absolutist who has declared war, not only on secularism and separation of church and state, but also on establishment Republicans who don’t embrace his vision of an America in which the Bible serves as “the principle textbook” for public education and a “Christian culture” has been “re-established.”  Lane describes his project’s goal this way:

to engage the church in a culture war for religious liberty, to restore America to our Judeo-Christian heritage and to re-establish a Christian culture.

Does anyone else find it as frightening as I do that half of the Republican presidential hopefuls are aligned with people like this???

One of the foremost Christian revisionist historians is David Barton, who, in addition to running an organization called Wallbuilders that disseminates Christian nationalist books, tracts and videos, is also the vice-chairman of the Texas Republican Party.  He says that – and this is serious – the Constitution is not merely a religious document–it’s lifted, verbatim from the Bible itself. That’s right. If you haven’t heard this before, it’s because Barton himself is pioneering this cutting-edge theory that experts have somehow missed all these years.  He says:

Now, that’s why the Constitution’s a problem. Look at Article III, Section 1, the treason clause–direct quote out of the Bible. You look at Article II, the quote on the President [having] to be native-born–that is Deuteronomy 17:15, verbatim. I mean, look at how many clauses come out [of the Bible]. That drives the secularists nuts, because the Bible is all over [the Constitution]. Now, we as Christians don’t tend to recognize that. We think it’s a secular document–we’ve bought into their lies. It’s not.

(Just for fun:  Deuteronomy 17:15 actually says “Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.”)

Oh, and an FYI for you, David:

ver·ba·tim adv (ˌ)vər-ˈbā-təm\

Definition of VERBATIM

: in the exact words : word for word

And one more – Gary Potter of Catholics for Christian Political Action writes:

When the Christian majority finally takes over this county, there will be no non-Christian churches, no more free distribution of pornography, no more talk of rights for homosexuals.  After the Christian majority takes control, pluralism will be seen as immoral and evil, and the state will not permit anybody the right to practice evil.  (emphasis mine.)

By the way, I have over 200 quotes from current Christian right political leaders that tell this story…and it’s temping to include ALL of them in this article.  I’m going to hold back a bit…I want this to be readable, not too long, and not overwhelming.  But go to the end of this article for some of my favorites.  In the meantime, let’s talk for a moment about Sarah Palin.

ChristianNationDid you know that this dominionist outlook heavily influenced Wasilla Assembly of God, Palin’s home church, in a big way?  And if you’ve heard Palin talk for more than five minutes you know that Christian Nationalism is clearly the basis of her political philosophy.  And do you remember that Palin ran for vice president alongside John McCain in 2008?  And do you know that when presidents die or are hospitalized, vice presidents take the reigns?  And are you aware that McCain is dang old (over 80)?  And, although Obama whipped McCain’s ass (Obama received the largest percentage of the popular vote for a Democrat in a half-century), if it wasn’t for team Obama’s “get out the vote” and other aspects of their brilliantly run campaign, we could have had McCain for president?

In 2010 Sarah said on national television:

We are a Christian nation.  I think we should keep this clean, keep it simple, go back to what our founders and our founding documents meant.  They’re quite clear that we should create law based on the God of the Bible and the 10 commandments, it’s pretty simple.

And she went on (and continues) to say things like this:

God truly has shed his grace on thee — on this country. He’s blessed us, and we better not blow it, lest anyone try to convince you that God should be separated from the state, our founding fathers, they were believers.

For a vivid, well-argued, entertaining (in sort of a sick let’s-slow-down-and-check-out-the-car-wreck kind of way) picture of what Cover3Dcould happen here in America, read Frederic Rich’s Christian Nation:  A Novel, a story that reminds us that America’s Christian fundamentalists have been consistently clear about their vision for a “Christian Nation” and dead serious about acquiring the political power to achieve it.  This novel takes us down the terrifyingly credible path toward theocracy, in which people realize too late that the Christian right meant precisely what it said.

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I’m not trying to be alarmist…but please don’t think it’s out of the question that the “Christian Taliban” could one day be at the helm here.  Did you know that fourteen years before the first shot was fired in World War ll,
Hitler announced his plan to destroy the parliamentary system in Germany, to attack France and Poland, and to eliminate the Jews?  Why did ordinary Germans voting in 1932 not believe him?

He went ahead and did exactly what he said he was going to do.

And what is it that the Christian Nationalists say they’re going to do, once they’re in power?

I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good… Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a biblical duty, we are called on by God to conquer this country. We don’t want equal time. We don’t want pluralism.

–Randall Terry, The News Sentinel

Nobody has the right to worship on this planet any other God than Jehovah. And therefore the state does not have the responsibility to defend anybody’s pseudo-right to worship an idol.

–Rev. Joseph Morecraft, Chalcedon Presbyterian Church, “Biblical Role of Civil Government” speech given at Biblical Worldview Conference.

The long-term goal of Christians in politics should be to gain exclusive control over the franchise. Those who refuse to submit publicly to the eternal sanctions of God by submitting to His Church’s public marks of the covenant–baptism and holy communion–must be denied citizenship.

–Beverly LaHaye, Concerned Women of America

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This is God’s world, not Satan’s. Christians are the lawful heirs, not non-Christians.

–Gary North, Political Polytheism: The Myth of Pluralism (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989), p. 102

[W]e need a legal strategy which protects the rights of those of us who hold Christian convictions which will afford us the opportunity to contend once again for the mind of this culture.

–Keith A. Fournier, ACLJ brochure “Religious Cleansing”

Most politically active Christians don’t want equal time with homosexuals, abortionists, animal worshipping pagans, witches, radical feminists and pornographers. We want them silenced and mercifully disciplined according to the word of God.

–Jay Rogers reviewing Ralph Reed’s Politically Incorrect in “Chalcedon Report”

I don’t know that atheists should be considered citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation images-204under God.

–President George Bush, August 27, 1988

We are engaged in a social, political, and cultural war. There’s a lot of talk in America about pluralism. But the bottom line is somebody’s values will prevail. And the winner gets the right to teach our children what to believe.

— Gary Bauer, Family Research Council

We’re going to bring back God and the Bible and drive the gods of secular humanism right out of the public schools of America.

–Presidential candidate Pat Buchanan addressing the anti-gay rally in Des Moines

The ‘Owner’s Manual’ for the Constitution is the Bible.

–Tony Nassif, California Christian Coalition and the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools images-207

One day, I hope in the next ten years, I trust that we will have more Christian day schools than there are public schools. I hope I will live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won’t have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!

–Jerry Falwell, “America Can Be Saved”

Yes, religion and politics do mix. America is a nation based on biblical principles. Christian values dominate our government. The test of those values is the Bible. Politicians who do not use the bible to guide their public and private lives do not belong in office.

— Beverly LaHaye, Concerned Women of America

Article by Mike Nash
Click HERE for part 2:  The four things the Christian Right needs before it can take over

Cross Spangled Banner Wallpaper

Tax stuff

obama

From Addicting Info (author unknown)

images-179Take just 5 minutes. Imagine an America where only one religion dictates the law of the land like Rick Santorum suggests. Where things like the Patriot Act and Guantanamo Bay-style camps that enable no right to fair trial are created. LGBT Americans cannot only not serve in the military but have their children confiscated. Women cannot vote. Blacks cannot marry whites. You can be fired for being Hispanic. Muslims cannot worship freely. There are no Pell Grants to put your child through school. There is no Medicare for your parents. There is a government that spends twice as much on average ($60B vs. $35B) and creates half as many jobs (73.4MM vs 34.8MM). Imagine it… having trouble? It is called Iran. Afghanistan. Pakistan. Saudi Arabia. It is called America without Democratic Presidents and their legislation. Take away all what Democrats have achieved in last 100 years and you will get an America not too different from places you fear the most.

Each of the statements below reference factual numbers, actual legislation, or true data.  All of this can be easily validated.

1. Since 1932, Democratic Presidents have created 73.4 million new jobs, Republicans have created only 34.8 million. Thus, Democrats created more jobs lifting my standard of living. (Source: International Business Times | Bloomberg)

2. Democrats got my mother, sister, and all other women a right to vote by fighting the GOP for 7 years (Source: Woodrow Wilson 1912-1919). Even 100 years later, Democrats fight Republicans as they introduced a law in Wisconsin that would criminalize single mothers. (Source 1 | Forbes)

3. Land Grant Institution funding triggered under Great Society Programs lifted me and many of my friends from lower middle class to upper earning brackets through affordable college education. (Sources: Colorado University | US History | Wikipedia)

4. Democrats got me a right to get married to the person I love while GOP made constitutional bans for same-sex marriage in almost all GOP controlled states. (Source: HRC Housing | Employment | Hospital Visitation)

5. Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society Programs created “Work Study” which enabled me to work 20-hours a week in addition to lk081110dBP-500classes to pay towards my college tuition and make a life for myself. (Sources: Colorado University | US History | Wikipedia)

6. Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society Programs created Pell Grants, which helped me and millions of other people complete college education and go on to create new businesses and opportunities for ourselves and others. (Sources: Colorado University | US History | Wikipedia)

7. Democratic President Barack Obama repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell to empower me and other LGBT Americans to serve our country with self-respect and dignity, unifying our nation. (Source: White House)

8. While GOP governments have legislation in 12 states to ban Islamic faith called Sharia, Democrats created a nation where people of all faiths can freely practice under our first amendment right by never introducing legislation to ban an established faith. (Source: MSNBC)

9. In last 70 years GDP rose 12.6% under Democrats versus a GOP increase of 10.7%. From 1960 to 2012 the gross domestic product measured in dollars rose an average of $165 billion a year under Republican presidents and $212 billion a year under Democrats. Thus, Democrats made this nation more prosperous. (Source: Washington Post)

images-18110. The Bayh-Dole Act, passed by a Democratic House and Senate and signed by Jimmy Carter, has created 5000 companies including Google. It created millions of jobs for me and my fellow citizens. (Source: Act | Wiki Information)

11. Democrats in 1967 legalized interracial marriage across the US, giving me and my friends a chance to find and marry the best person for us irrespective of race. The GOP opposed it. (Source: Wikipedia)

12. Democrats created anti-discrimination laws under Great Society Programs that protect me, and millions of other Americans from being denied housing, jobs, or other services on the grounds of race. The GOP opposed it. (Sources: Colorado University | US History | Wikipedia)

13. Lyndon Johnson enacted a massive expansion of Social Security (also created by a democratic, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt) and Medicare so older Americans that have worked hard and spent their lives making this nation great are not left alone in the dark. One day, I will also take advantage of such programs. (Sources: Colorado University | US History | Wikipedia)

14. Democrats created Medicaid under Great Society Programs to help enhance healthcare access for men, women, and images-180children who otherwise couldn’t afford it. The GOP still wants to dissolve it. (Sources: Colorado University | US History | Wikipedia)

15. Democratic Presidents hold the record for all of the following:

  • Greatest gross domestic product (GDP) growth: Clinton
  • Biggest jobs increase: Truman
  • Best after-tax personal disposable income rise: Carter
  • Highest industrial production growth: Johnson
  • The lowest Misery Index, which is inflation plus unemployment: Kennedy
  • The lowest inflation: Truman
  • The largest federal budget deficit reduction: Clinton

Each one of the above made this country a stronger and larger economy to make all Americans more prosperous. (Source: Washington Post)

16. Democrats spend far less; spending breaks down as $35 billion a year under Democratic presidents and $60 billion under Republicans on average. If you assume that it takes a year for a president’s policies to take effect, Democrats have raised spending by $40 billion a year and Republicans by $55 billion. Thus, the GOP is more responsible for the debt that we have amassed, lowering our credit rating. (Source: Washington Post)

17. While giving people of faith a full free choice to do what they deem fit, Democrats made access to birth control available to all women so those suffering from PCOS, ovarian cancer, ovarian cysts, and hormonal disorders can save their lives by using it. The GOP still fights that. This made lives of people close to me better. (Source: Detailed Affordable Care Act | Graphic | Related Blog)

GOP-Alternative-Policies18. Democrats have created anti-discrimination laws to protect LGBT individuals from being denied housing or jobs based on their sexual orientation which is similar to providing protection for people who choose to affiliate with a certain religion of their choice. This has created an America where my friends and I can thrive based on our work not our race, religion, or sexual orientation. 31 GOP states have still refused to follow this trend enacted in 19 liberal states to protect LGBT Americans in a diversity bucket. (Source: HRC Housing | Employment | Hospital Visitation | State Laws |Interactive)

19. Out of 18 states that produce more wealth than what they take in from the Federal Government, 16 are liberal, one swing (FL), and only one Republican (TX). On the other hand, of 32 states that take in more money than what they produce, aka welfare states, 4 (MD, ME, HI, VT) are liberal, one swing (PA), and an astonishing 27 are full-out conservative. (Link) Thus Democratic legislature and fiscal policies have created a better living environment for me, conservative legislatures have failed to do the same for its loyal base. (Source: Tax Foundation)

20. A Democratic legislature and President Obama in 2010 enacted HealthCare Reform that eliminates discrimination for insurance against people with preexisting conditions, prevents women from being charged twice as much, makes preventative care available, enables young adults to stay on their parents plan till 26, and removes lifetime caps to make sure that children born with serious conditions are not left out to die. The beauty of this was that the reform is not a government takeover, relies on private insurance, and expands coverage for all my fellow citizens making all of our lives better. (Source: Lifetime Caps | Women Pay More | Detailed Affordable Care Act |Graphic)

America, wake up. Facts are staring right at you. 

vote

why the voting rights act matters

Hey!  To all nine of my readers – just in case you missed it or aren’t aware of the significance of this particular ruling by the Supremes this past week, I want to lay it out in very simple terms.

Background:  In elections Republicans do terrible with minorities.  Blacks and Latinos, in particular, vote against Republicans almost 3 to 1.  That’s pretty much unsurvivable, if you’re the GOP.

Two ways the GOP could fix this:

1.  Change what you look like to Latino and black voters.  You know, things like stop voting only FOR the things that the corporations are paying you to vote for and AGAINST the things the corporations are paying you to vote against.  Examples: Raise the minimum raise, stop giving tax breaks to wealthy corporations while cutting food stamps for our neediest citizens, vote for jobs and education and background checks for gun purchases, and stop voting against reforms in health care, immigration and taxes.  Basically, try to erase the Republican “I hate minorities” image you have earned over the past many decades.

OR, of course, you could instead:

2.  Do everything you possibly can to keep minorities from voting.  

And, because this is the option the Republicans have historically chosen (and the option they apparently continue to choose when left to their own devices), Congress created the VOTING RIGHTS PROTECTION ACT.  

The Voting Rights Protection Act
Simply put:  Back in the 1960s the federal government recognized that there were some states and districts with long histories of disenfranchising minorities when it came to voting, and that, when left to themselves, these states would most likely do whatever they could to continue this tradition.  So Congress put into place a sort of second set of eyes by giving the Department of Justice the responsibility to review proposed changes in state election laws in these states and the power to veto laws that they determined to be racist or discriminatory.  And despite protests by some state law makers who claimed that their states had long ago abandoned discriminatory practices, this Act has since been renewed and amended by Congress four times, the most recent being a 25-year extension signed into law by PresidenGeorge W. Bush in 2006.  Needless to say, this Act has been seen as a landmark victory for civil rights and a source of empowerment for millions of citizens over the years.  

ZLpEd.La.91How it actually works:  A case study
In 2011, Texas Republicans put up a bill requiring that, if you wanted to vote, you had to have specific documentation that you never had to show before.  By their own estimate, these Republican lawmakers claimed that over 800,000 registered Texan voters did not have this ID…and that over 3/4 of these people were Latino.  An example of acceptable voter ID:  Your concealed weapon permit.  An example of unacceptable voter ID:  Your student ID (complete with photo).  Another unacceptable form of voter ID:  Your veterans ID card.  Seriously.

Well, when the Justice Department reviewed this proposed law they said, basically, “Um….no.  You can’t change your laws to knowingly block hundreds of thousands of Latinos from voting.”  So they vetoed it – they blocked this effort to keep minorities away from the polls.

And that’s not the only Texas Republican attempt to cheat their way to victory.  After the 2010 census these same lawmakers created new congressional districts with (according to a federal court) “discriminatory purposes.”  Texas Republicans took away the seats of minority law makers and redrew the districts of white lawmakers to make those seats easier for white lawmakers to win and hold on to.  In the new maps, the court noted, not a single white lawmaker lost his or her seat, but black lawmakers had their districts whittled out from under them.  Again, the federal court looked at this and said, in effect, “Nice try…but no way.”

This week, though, the law that allowed the feds to block those moves in Texas (and in many other locations around the country) images-177was gutted.  And in gutting the Voting Rights Protection Act, the conservative Supremes also threw out both of these protective Texas vetoes.   

So Texas is now good to go.

And guess what?  Texas Republicans wasted no time.  The voter ID law that was blocked for being too racist and the new election maps that were blocked for being too racist – these laws that were too obviously racist to be legal- they are suddenly legal, and Texas Republicans are going for it!  Remember, the Texas laws referenced above were officially called “obviously racially motivated” and “an attempt to keep whites in power.”  That’s why they were blocked.  But now Texan Republicans are going ahead with these laws.  So is Mississippi.  So is Alabama.  So is North Carolina.  This isn’t theoretical – it’s not that they are cleared to begin considering these racist laws.  The Republican controlled states are actually doing it, this week, right now.

images-176Red states that had wanted to change their election laws in racially discriminatory ways, but couldn’t get away with it because of the Voting Rights Protection Act – those red states are charging full steam ahead with racially discriminatory new election laws.

And now it’s up to Congress to decide whether or not they want a “national fix for this problem,” which Obama is now calling for.  The big question:  Are national Republicans going take the side of these far right state legislators and set us back 50 years, or will they take the side of civil rights, human dignity and fairness and help move us forward toward a future of equality and decency?

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