Your papers are not in order, comrade citizen

Polls close in a minute or so....
Years back, my parents relocated to a small southern town for retirement.  It was a dog-lazy place with a mayor who seemingly ran unopposed for all his adult life.  It had a town council of I think 5 hearty souls elected at large as there were no "districts" in this little burg of 10,000, just a city limits sign and you were either in or out. The town was around well before the civil war and in the 200 years of its existence, it had never, ever, ever elected a black person to anything - even during reconstruction after the "northern aggression". It was a helluva place.

I was visiting them during the Master's Tournament when they first got their hands on tickets and the kerfuffle was about "letting" a black tour pro play in the event. No dice.  Arthur Ashe, the tennis great, could buy a ticket but when CBS tried to interview him to get his "thoughts" on the black/white thing he was not politely told that there were areas where blacks were not permitted and the clubhouse/cottage areas were one.  He also tried to spend the night in my parent's town and no hotel would book him.

By all accounts, and this being less than a decade after Lyndon Johnson's Voting Rights legislation, after the March to Selma, after some murderous thugs killed some college kids who were down south to help organize the vote, my parents had landed in a political backwater from hell...or so I thought being a white, northern liberal.

Sure enough the Justice Department finally found their was to town and figured that since the town was about 40% black and out of 5 town council seats, never once was a black elected, there was something afoot.  They forced the town to do away with 5 "at large" seats and divide up the town into 5 districts.  The town promptly went to 3:2 white:black on the council and there was finally discussion on why 40% of the town had dirt roads only and why 40% had to pay a surcharge for the water system and why 40% of the town went to 1 high school and 60% went to the other. All stops were pulled out to keep the 40% at bay - voter registration being one of them. 

Most of the 40% were dirt poor and if you don't know southern black poverty in the late 60s, you haven't lived. The $25 registration fee was a week's groceries back then and the Justice Department jumped all over that one as it was blatantly illegal. There is "hardscrabble life" and there is "hardscrabble life with the vote".  The law spoke volumes as it was apparent that anything that kept folks from voting easily was just such a basic affront to the nation that it couldn't be tolerated - not for an inch.

So here we are. in over a dozen Republican controlled states, new laws have been enacted to wipe out the "waste, fraud and abuse" of poor people, minorities, the shit-outta-lucks, from voting easily if at all. To be able to cast a vote most have to get to a place that issues the necessary documents, (open ever 7th Thursday of odd numbered months ending in 'z'), provide some ID that they have to get to prove who they are - (get your birth certificate for a fee) - so to get an ID that proves who they say they are even though about all of them have been voting for years.  We are back in the south shortly after the Voting Rights Act and fighting that battle anew. We have walked 50 years back in time. 

It is Sunday morning and I don't want to get all preachy about voting rights. It was hard to get women the right to vote - for no reason on earth.  It was harder to give "the colored" more than 3/5ths of a vote as that was written in the constitution. In the 60s it was hard to get the vote for 18 year-olds even though they were being drafted and killed like crazy half a world a way.

We have, however, a new group of pinheads who figure controlling the vote will give them a purchase on control of things; dirt roads, bad schools and the rest of societies sorry lot of bad social choices. If people lose the right to vote freely and efficiently, all the other rights are in jeopardy. Every single one.  The vote is the only thing standing in the way of some sort of weird "at large" society.  It is the "gun in the dresser drawer" protection against unfettered majority rule.

The day the GOP stands up for voting rights as paramount to gun slinging rights is the day society will be thinking straight. Right now, it isn't.


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