There is a very obscure, and unofficial holiday in America that is observed by some schools in America that is normally celebrated on or around the last school day in September. The holiday, officially named “Ask a Stupid Question Day” was created by savvy school teachers during the 1980s to encourage students to ask questions regardless if they think other students will ridicule them for being “stupid.” Although the holiday was meant for students, a North Carolina appellate court judge joined in the “fun” and asked what has to be one of, if not, the stupidest questions ever posed by a federal jurist because he already knew the answer.
The judge, part of a three-member panel for the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, was apparently baffled during oral arguments defending North Carolina’s rash of voter suppression laws specifically targeting African Americans and working people. Judge James Wynn is the only panelist who lives in North Carolina and could not comprehend why Republicans shifted polling places, including his own, far away from where voters live and demanded to know why “his vote” should be thrown out for originating from the wrong precinct. Obviously the state’s lawyer could not come up with an intelligent or reasonable answer for the judge, so Wynn was very specific and asked a follow-up question worthy of “Ask a Stupid Question Day” recognition as a doozy; He asked, “Why does the state of North Carolina not want people to vote?”
Let’s face it, the judge, like any non-comatose American already knew the answer even though the state’s lawyers refused to answer. North Carolina is in the grips of a racist Republican legislature, is part of the former Confederacy, and dutifully serves the Kochs, ALEC, and Americans for Prosperity. North Carolina’s assault on people of color’s, students’, and working Americans’ right to vote is not unique to the state, or the rest of the former Confederate states actively restricting voting rights of people they think may not automatically vote for Republicans. In fact, even the state’s anti-democracy laws are not unique primarily because around the country GOP-legislatures used American Legislative Exchange Council “fill-in templates” to, as Georgia Republican Fran Millar said, “put a stop to African Americans voting.”
There are several provisions at issue in the North Carolina case deliberately devised by ALEC with the sole purpose of making it more difficult for residents of North Carolina to cast a vote. One provision cut early voting by a week, another implements a harsh voter ID law, and a third put a severe restriction on voter registration drives. Not only do Republicans want to put a stop to people of color’s right to vote, they intend to put a stop to efforts to register people of color to participate in the democratic process. Now, some pundits claim the North Carolina restrictions have a better than average chance of being struck down because the three judges on the court were appointed by Democratic presidents, but they fail to remember there are five Republican-appointed Justices on the Supreme Court who oppose voting rights for non-Republican voters. Don’t believe it?
Yesterday, the five Republican-appointed conservative Justices reversed a federal district court’s ruling that struck down Republican-imposed voting restrictions in Ohio after the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed in a unanimous order that Ohio residents could begin early voting today if they so desired. The Supreme Court’s anti-democracy wing; Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Kennedy issued an announcement that their decision was not on the merits of the case because they had not yet heard any oral arguments defending voting restrictions. They just believed so strongly that since Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted invested such an incredible amount of time and energy to disenfranchise minority and working-class voters, and labeled his “appeal” an emergency, that as good conservatives it was prudent to support Ohio Republicans’ efforts to block voting. Since the conservative-5 were appointed by Republican presidents, they felt duty-bound to honor their party’s anti-democracy crusade and make it official by judicial fiat. Although the North Carolina case has not yet been decided, if the Appellate judges do strike down North Carolina’s anti-democracy statues, Republicans can rest easy a Republican appeal deemed “an emergency” by the state’s secretary of state will have the restrictions back in place well before election day.
There is no possible way any American can dispute that Republicans are “taking back their country” to an era that voting was restricted as a matter of course. The preponderance of Republican vote suppression laws are more strident than during Jim Crow simply due to the various demographic groups being targeted for disenfranchisement. It is true African Americans are the primary target, but coming in at a close second are working Americans likely toiling away at two jobs just to make ends meet, students, and the elderly. In fact, in Texas, and likely other former Confederate states, an official student ID is not a valid form of identification but an NRA or gun registration permit means a prospective voter is a Republican and a real American. Texas is also the state that passed a law requiring women’s voter registration to have their birth certificate name to restrict the women’s vote; even Republican women’s vote.
This is the new and improved American democracy that the United Nations noted was deliberately blocking people of color’s access to voting, and yet the mainstream media as well as Democrats were too terrified to expose to the American people that the entire world is now aware America’s storied democracy is a pathetically sick joke and not long for this world. Oh, there may be elections going forward, but they will be reserved for what in Republican parlance is known as “real Americans;” white Christians with a Jesus card, gun owners with an NRA card, or any southerner wearing a NASCAR cap (backwards of course). The conservatives on the Supreme Court certainly understand who the real Americans (Republican voters) are because they have been loyal puppets thwarting voting rights of any group Republicans, the Kochs, ALEC, or Americans for Prosperity deem unfit to participate in elections. It is too bad for America because no Constitution, United Nations, or appearance of being a democracy is going to stop conservatives from creating an environment that allowed a hated brutal dictator like Saddam Hussein to win elections. Saddam just used a different form of violence to block opposition votes than Republicans.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.