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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

 
Restoring the white franchise

by Tom Sullivan

Give me that old time religion. Or at least, that old time franchise. Bring back the good old days when white, Christian men could run this great democracy the way God intended when he handed down the U.S. Constitution on tablets to George Washington in 1776.
Writing in the Washington Post, William H. Frey of the Brookings Institution examines the latest rearguard effort to stave off white political obsolescence. The Supreme Court earlier this month heard arguments in Evenwel v. Abbott. At issue: whether government exists to represent all the people or just eligible voters. As Dahlia Lithwick explained:
If the court sides with Evenwel and accepts the view that only voters or even registered voters are to be counted when drawing district lines, children, legal residents, and people who have committed felonies or the mentally ill—all of whom are certainly affected when legislators legislate—are not to be counted for apportionment purposes. In the words of the Obama administration, which sides with Texas in this case against the two plaintiffs, whole swaths of the population become “invisible or irrelevant to our system of representative democracy.”
And your point is? That's how this nation was founded. The plaintiffs just want America to get back to its founding principles.
Their worry is apportionment by total population rather than by voting population dilutes (and saps and impurifies?) the votes of rural voters compared with those in urban centers where larger populations of underaged (and possibly undocumented) people reside. The principle at issue, they argue, is not equal representation, but equal protection for eligible voters. (If they are the right kind of voters.) These are the people who chase voter fraud for the same reason: fear of losing control to the Other. Is it about race? Yes. But even more, it's about power.
Frey writes:
This month in Evenwel v. Abbott, the Supreme Court heard arguments for altering the long-standing principle of “one person, one vote” by substituting voting-age citizens for total population when drawing legislative districts within states. While much has been said about the implications of eliminating noncitizens from the population on which district lines are based, a ruling in favor of the plaintiffs in this case could have an even larger impact: shortchanging the interests of minority children and their families. That’s because nearly half of the nation’s under-18 population is made up of racial minorities, while 70 percent of voting-age citizens are white. The United States is undergoing a boom in demographic diversity, but it’s the younger population that’s being transformed first.
Removing the racially diverse youth population from the apportionment calculation would intensify a divisive cultural generation gap that pervades politics and public attitudes in this country. Pew Research polling has shown that the mostly white older population is far less accepting of immigrant minorities and government support for social programs than is the increasingly minority younger population. The rise of immigrant-bashing presidential candidate Donald Trump as a hero among older white Republican primary voters represents an extreme version of the pushback against a demographically changing country.
One imagines that if Frank Luntz gathered a focus group of Trump supporters and told them this decision might disenfranchise young people, especially minority young people, their all-American reaction might be, "Yeah, so?" If people want representation, they ought to have (white) skin in the game.


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Happy Hollandaise everyone! --- d