It’s a sign that times have indeed changed. The Waco newspaper is not impressed with “Dixie obstructionists,” such as local Congressman John Carter, who are blocking the Voting Rights Act. The only helpful thing we could see in Carter’s action is a little truth-in-advertising regarding the stakes of his re-election. As for the truth expressed by the Waco editorial, we could hardly say it better ourselves:
Editorial: Extend Voting Rights Act
Friday, June 23, 2006
Someone tell us what’s been so oppressive about the Voting Rights Act — certainly in contrast to the oppression that went before.
Before the 1965 act, a tyrannical majority under Jim Crow conspired in overt or subtle ways to disenfranchise minorities with poll taxes, literacy tests and reliance on at-large districts.
The act remains the most fundamental and far-reaching achievement of the civil rights era. For with power at the polls comes opportunity.
The act will expire next year. The House was prepared to vote for reauthorization this week when Southern Republicans, including the Texas delegation, stopped the action in its tracks.
Some of these Dixie obstructionists want the law abolished. Some say it shouldn’t just apply to the nine states affected but instead to all.
We can’t argue with the latter proposition. If it’s right for the South, it’s right for all. But that’s a can of worms unnecessarily splayed on the table. The South has managed to serve democracy right under the Voting Rights Act. It is not overly onerous. It has been incorporated into the way affected states govern. It is now, rightfully, a way of life for states that once made the exclusion of minorities a way of life.
The need, unfortunately, is not ancient history. Texas’ adventures in congressional redistricting, with a Supreme Court ruling imminent, showed the necessity for the Voting Rights Act.
The Voting Rights Act requires that redistricting not dilute the power of minority voters, something that’s easy to do by simply splitting them into subservient parcels of white-majority districts. Democrats have asserted that the GOP plan in Texas did just that. The GOP points out that it created some districts in which minorities have strong representation. The court will decide. If not for the Voting Rights Act, it might be hard for any African American in the South to be elected to Congress or the statehouse, or to serve on many local governing boards.
One of the disssenting Texas Republicans, Rep. John Carter of Round Rock, said his intention is not to abolish the Voting rights Act but to tweak it. It’s unclear what changes he desires.
“I don’t think we have racial bias in Texas anymore,” Carter said . Would that it were so.
The Voting Rights Act continues to stand between a tyrannical majority and those who otherwise would have little, or no, political power.