By Faddy MacMough
A Bona Fide Redneck Column
from the Texas Civil Rights Review
Well, from the left-edge of the world of Reneckedness I have a question. When does a civil right become an uncivil wrong? Maybe the editor will try to change that to incivil wrong … but I did mean uncivil … as in uncivilized.
Some newspaper editors have been suggesting that the U.S. Supreme Court has effectively reinstated the poll tax that once kept minorities and the poor from voting, and it did so for no justifiable reason. They say that when the high court upheld an Indiana state law that requires a form of government-issued photo identification card for anyone to vote and that has undone our civil rights.
I suppose that those rednecks in Indiana (some call ’em lawmakers) approved the bill on the grounds of fighting voter fraud. What seems passing strange is that in upholding the law, the court said there is no evidence of voter fraud. The court apparently traded away the ability of many poor Americans to vote out of deference to fears that someone might cheat.
Now I admit to bein’ a redneck … but even to me that is a genuine case of fractured logic. Accordin’ to the Supremes, any state is now permitted to deny access to the polls to hundreds of voters – documented cases of such were entered into evidence – to prevent some potential, yet undefined, evil character from sneaking into the booth and voting twice. Well, now doncha know that kicks the concept of voting as the most sacred right in a democracy straight into the hole in the outhouse seat!
This photo-identification ruse is simply voter suppression, enacted by Indiana’s redneck legislature to keep down the vote of minorities and senior citizens. It is those people who will have the most trouble getting state-approved photo-identification cards and who will likely miss the vote.
For the historically challenged, the poll tax long had its supporters in the Old South. It cost only a couple of dollars to vote, its apologists said. That wasn’t much of a sacrifice for the sacred right. The poll tax wasn’t charged to most whites. That’s because people whose ancestors had voted before minorities won the right to vote after the Civil War were grandfathered in.
The whole idea of a poll tax, as with the identification card, is to suppress the vote of the poor. The 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution banned poll taxes in 1964, but six justices effectively reinstated it with this decision.
So, let’s ask a simple question: How difficult can it be for someone to get a photo-identification card? The answer is: A lot harder than you might think.
Testimony before the court centered on the poor who do not own vehicles and who, therefore, do not have driver’s licenses. They can file for other forms of identification, but those cards require personal trips to government offices, which can be expensive, difficult or impossible for the infirm. Many citizens also don’t have access to their birth certificates, a key document needed in getting the proper identification in Indiana.
Just as those southerners who supported the poll tax denied that it was an impediment to voting, those Indianan’s supporting this identification requirement say it is not a big deal. But it is a big deal for the poor, and that’s why the Indiana legislature enacted this law. They know they implemented a new tactic in our nation’s sorry history of denying the vote to our poor and minority populations. And our supremes said they were right to do so, and worse, fer the rest of us … that means our states can do the same damned thing.
And, here you and I sit whining about it. Maybe it is time that this old a-hole got off his butt and helped to start the revolution. Of course, then again, maybe Franz Kafka was right: “Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind it only the slime of bureaucracy.”
Fredegar N. MacMough (his friends call him Faddy) is a pseudonym for a redneck living in New Mexico … in one of those down at the heel oil towns where the only hope is in the fall when we put our kids up to distract us from the grinding daily shit of our lives by watching them play football. Where the town spends most of its time either talking about this season or in hibernation waiting for next fall … and some still talk about when they played football. Pity the poor chump who only sires daughters … there is no glory in that.