What happens when a constitution doesn’t conform to the Republican Party’s ideology? If it’s the constitution of the United States, they revise its meaning, or make something up about the original intent of the constitutional protection. One great example of this is the Republican claim that freedom of religion only applies to the faux Christianity they use to defend unsustainable economic policies and justify their hatred for everyone who isn’t faux Christian, rich, pale and male.
If it’s a state’s constitution, Republicans won’t acknowledge that their ideology and policies are unconstitutional. Rather, they’ll change the constitution so that it conforms to their ideology. We’re seeing this happen in states like Missouri where the state constitution guarantees a citizen’s right to vote.
On Monday, Republicans in Missouri introduced a bill to assure the state constitution conforms to the Republican’s long established ideology of vote suppression.
The state legislature proposed two vote suppression bills on Monday because they have to make the constitution conform to their ideological opposition to political freedom in order for a second law that restricts the vote can be constitutionally compliant.
To that end, the first proposed law calls for a ballot measure to change the constitution so that voting is no longer a guaranteed constitutional right.
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to state that voters may be required by law to verify one’s identity, citizenship, and residence by presenting identification that may include valid government-issued photo identification?
If Republicans in Missouri can con a majority of voters into believing this ballot initiative will protect the integrity and existence of their vote, the second law they proposed will automatically kick in. That law establishes the means by which Republicans will allow eligible voters in Missouri to prove they meet the criteria needed to enjoy the privilege of voting. In short, Republicans want to convert the right to vote to a privilege.
Of course Republicans will claim that the fact that most American citizens who don’t have the requisite ID also happen to be black or brown is merely an unfortunate coincidence. It’s also an unfortunate coincidence that if you’re income is less than $35,000 a year or you are over age 65, you are less likely to have the sort of ID that Republicans require.
If Republican practices in other states are an indicator, they will try to con Missourians into believing that “voter ID” is not an impediment to the poor, because perhaps maybe, the state will provide the ID for free. Of course, people are on their own when it comes to the prohibitive costs and obstacles that go with acquiring the ID needed to get the voter ID.
Other state constitutions that guarantee the right to vote are also under assault. In California, the Tea Party is at work trying to get that state’s constitution to conform to their ideological belief that some Americans voting rights should be more equal than others. Since a court in Pennsylvania struck down on a similar law because it violated that state’s constitution, it’s a matter of time before Republicans will try to make Pennsylvania’s constitution conform to their ideology.
Of course, Republicans will claim that because the vote is a sacred right, they must do everything possible to assure that it is a privilege afforded to Americans most likely to vote Republican. That includes making constitutions comply with Republican ideology.
Image: The Economist