Whenever I talk to a group of students, or speak to an organization, and bring up the mechanics of our voting structure, I can count on the same reaction: eyes glaze over, hands go up to mouths to stifle polite yawns. The subject has no sex appeal. I know that--but we can't ignore the fact that it matters greatly.
I've written before about the pernicious effects of partisan gerrymandering, the growing inequities of the electoral college, the unreliability of electronic voting machines, and efforts to "game" the system by intimidating minority voters. This last subject just got a whole lot more pertinent, thanks to the investigation (finally) of the Justice Department under Alberto Gonzales.
Talking Points Memo's Muckraker website has an eye-opening expose that is really a "must read." It begins with the following paragraph:
If there's one good thing that's come out of the U.S. attorneys scandal, it's that it's shining a bright light on the Justice Department. And as a result, it's become clear that the most grossly politicized section of the department is the Civil Rights Division.
The rest of the post
details the obsessive efforts of the administration to suppress the votes of African-Americans, the poor and other constituencies that are likely to cast their votes for the "wrong" party.
Let me try one more time to underscore the significance of this. If we lose confidence in the accuracy and fairness of the system, we will no longer be a democratic republic. We will be a banana republic. And on a number of dimensions, we are getting uncomfortable close.
Go to tpmmuckraker. Read it and weep. Then, dammit, go do something to help fix it.
On a totally different note, this will be my last post for a month or so--I'm taking a breather. (Call it a vacation for my blood pressure.) I'll resume early in June. Meanwhile, please keep up the good fight!