Congresssional Candidate Backs Voting Rights

We don’t spend much time on political horse races, but a recent newsletter from Mary Beth Harrell provides a worthy expression of principle.

You may well be embarrassed – possibly stunned – even outraged, when I tell you…while my oldest boy is in Iraq right now serving our country – making personal sacrifices to champion the precious and fundamental rights that we hold dear, my opponent and incumbent Congressman John Carter is fighting to bring back literacy tests as a requisite for voting.

Why? “I simply believe you should be able to read, write and speak English to be a voter in the United States,” said Carter. A literacy test? The Austin-American Statesman declared that “is a curious statement from a member of Congress and former judge, because citizenship is the requisite for voting, not literacy…”Carter is 64, surely he remembers how literacy tests, poll taxes and grandfather clauses were used to strip non-whites of their voting rights in Texas. That’s why LBJ championed the Voting Rights Act.

But, Carter told the press there, is “no longer any racial bias in Texas” and so he stopped cold a vote to renew the Voting Rights Act. As the Houston Chronicle observed, Carter “has either been marooned on Mars most of his life or is frighteningly oblivious to reality.” Only a couple of weeks ago, in Carter’s own town, just north of Austin, a bailiff was fired for allegedly using the word “wetback, within earshot of students hauled into court for skipping school to attend pro-immigration rallies.”

My oldest boy is in Iraq right now fighting for our fundamental freedoms, our fundamental right to vote, our fundamental sense of fair play – not literacy tests.

I will champion the Voting Rights Act in Congress. I will champion America’s brighter future and continued greatness. But only with you help! Isn’t time to show your support for an independent and reasoned voice in Congress that will make you proud – not embarrassed…Then please make your campaign contribution now – don’t wait – do it now.

While we respectfully dissent from the connection Harrell makes between the Iraq war and American freedom, we do agree that the existence of that occupation raises crucial questions about the legitimacy of a mission that would export democracy as we know it.

“Bring ’em home,” we’d sing. And when they get home, show ’em what democracy looks like without barriers.

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