Sunday, October 30, 2005

Still More in the Surreal Department

I feel like I've lost my blogging "voice" a little bit lately. What I want to do is muse about ways to make things better. I want to be part of that small thoughtful group changing the world. What I am doing is spending all my time sputtering in amazement at the craziness around me. We'll see if I can get back on topic in the coming week.

But first, some more in the "top this" department.... I mentioned recently that there was a housing bill before the House restricting access to funds for non-profits that have registered people to vote in the last year. It passed, by the way, which really ought to be crazy enough for anyone. But no.

This amendment to the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac bill was added at the encouragement of the truly scary Republican Study Committee (follow the link cautiously.... it's not good for your blood pressure), and one of the approving members of this committee is Piyush Jindal, an Indian-American former Hindu (now conservative Christian) who is apparently unphased that the agenda of the RSC would have terrible consequences for non-Christians and people of color.

Hold that thought in your head for just one second... there's more.

Moreover, there have been other attempts lately to restrict access to voting. In 2003, South Dakota required a voter-ID, clearly (intentionally?) minimizing Native Americans' access to the polls. I just heard this morning that the Georgia rule requiring photo ID to vote was struck down, but they gave it a shot. Virginia had some recent issues with denying students the right to register to vote in local elections and went so far as to post armed police officers at some polling places. Here in Illinois the Republicans tried to prevent voter registration at the DMV, and in a way they succeeded. And there's always the interesting question of whether or not convicted felons should permanently lose their right to vote.

So, here are my two questions for the day.

I get it that women don't have to be feminists and black people don't have to be members of the NAACP and people with same-sex sexual orientation don't have to be politically defined by that. But, but, but.... (I'm sputtering again) why don't they/we WANT to be? This is a serious question. Someone make me an intellectually rigorous argument defending this position, because what it feels like is glorification of the argument suggesting that once my rights and privileges are secure it's okay to turn my back on people who look and act like me.

And secondly, what is it that conservatives are trying to conserve, exactly? I've lost track. Maybe I'm naive (okay, take out the "maybe"), but it seems to me that conserving/protecting/defending the right to vote ought to be what conservatives are jumping up and down about. I can easily construct the outline of a media campaign using their jargon that is all about opening up the polls to all citizens. Defending the Constitution.... honoring the patriots who died earning this's not hard to come up with slogans. What are they doing and how are they getting away with it? I really want to know.

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