Voting Rights Under Attack: The Coming Backlash to Destroy Conservatism

If John G. Roberts, Jr. weren't the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, uncontrollable laughter would be a proper response to him wondering aloud if the South is more racist than the rest of the country. Be that as it may, I am not here to argue the legal nuts and bolts of the Voting Rights Act. Instead, I present this piece as an analysis of the effects of a possible decision from the court to overturn Section 5, the section requiring pre-clearance of elections law changes by the DOJ for certain states and localities based on their history of racial discrimination in voting. Republicans and conservatives are giddy about having Section 5 overturned, but have they accounted for the backlash that will come should that decision actually come down the pike?

When President Lindon Baines Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act, he is known to have said that with that Act, Democrats were losing the south for a generation. LBJ turned out to be prophetic, except underestimating the amount of time. For Democrats, the South to this day remains largely a lost cause. But half a century later, demographic and generational shifts - along with a young President Obama - have made it so that Republicans are now afraid that they are losing the new generation and the reality of America's new demographic makeup. Have the Republicans thought about what will happen to that shift if the Supreme Court joins the attacks on our voting rights?

The Voting Rights Act - especially Section 5 - is sacrosanct among voting rights advocates and minorities who cherish our right to vote. The VRA is a pillar of American democracy, and mark my words when I tell you that minorities, young people - and Caucasians who believe in one person, one vote, will not sit idly by if the Supreme Court makes it easier for conservatives to attack our right to vote.

The Republicans may be making a calculation: that yes, it will tick off the African American community, but they never vote Republican anyway, so what's the difference?

If this is what they are thinking, they are making a monumental mistake. The right to vote is not cherished by African Americans alone, and the attack on that right has not been launched against African Americans alone. Over the past two years, Latinos, Asians, students, the disabled have all experienced first hand what these attacks look like. We have seen the lines, we have seen the intimidation, and we have seen the attempt to suppress the vote. Minorities answered all of that - by voting in overwhelming numbers, by standing in day-long lines, and by making our voices hard. The GOP's attempt to suppress the vote backfired.

And if conservatives think that the backlash of 2012 was bad, they ain't seen nothin' yet. If the Supreme Court oversteps its bounds and overturns Section 5, the backlash that will come after that will make 2012 look like a Republican landslide. Blacks, whites, Latinos, Asians, gay, straight, professionals and laborers, affluent and poor - we will band together against this injustice. We will organize, we will overcome every roadblock put in front of us, we will mobilize, we will use legal options to halt the march of the new Jim Crow, we will register in numbers never seen before, and we. will. vote. And when we vote, we will remember who did this to us.

Wanna make sure minorities never vote for another Republican again? Have a partisan 5-4 majority overturn Section 5. I dare you.

Republicans and conservatives better be damned careful what they wish for. They are asking for a popular uprising that this country has not seen since the Civil Rights movement. They - and the court's conservatives - are still advancing the agenda of the angry white racists in challenging the validity of Section 5. But if it succeeds, in its success will be the seed of the destruction of conservatism.