Tag Archives: Wisconsin

Political Implications of the SCOTUS Decision on the Voting Rights Act

More than a week ago, the Supreme Court of the United States rendered a decision on a case that had implications for the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The Court ruled that the formula from Section 4 of the VRA was unconstitutional. The decision has certainly enraged liberals and the political left as is clear in Justice Ginsburg‘s dissent:

[T]he Court’s opinion can hardly be described as an exemplar of restrained and moderate decision making. Quite the opposite. Hubris is a fit word for today’s demolition of the VRA.

Because of this outrage, I’ve seen some people argue that this decision was good for liberals/democrats because it will ignite those potentially disenfranchised people to vote. From Ross Douthat:

Well, to begin with, voter identification laws do not belong to the same moral or legal universe as Jim Crow. Their public purpose, as a curb to fraud, is potentially legitimate rather than nakedly discriminatory, and their effects are relatively limited. As Roberts’s majority opinion noted, the voter registration gap between whites and blacks in George Wallace’s segregationist Alabama was 50 percentage points.

… But voter ID laws don’t take effect in a vacuum: as they’re debated, passed and contested in court, they shape voter preferences and influence voter enthusiasm in ways that might well outstrip their direct influence on turnout. They inspire registration drives and education efforts; they help activists fund-raise and organize; they raise the specter of past injustices; they reinforce a narrative that their architects are indifferent or hostile to minorities.

W.W. from The Economist finds Douthat’s analysis “quite plausible.” Both articles referenced the same information I talked about yesterday: the missing white voter.

I don’t know that I necessarily agree with this assessment.

In Wisconsin a couple of years ago, citizens were pretty excited about recalling Governor Scott Walker. Some folks were really upset by Gov. Walker’s actions on collective bargaining. Democrats, Gov. Walker is a Republican, thought that they could seize this opportunity to recall the Governor. There were over 1 million signatures to recall the Governor. It seemed like there was lots of momentum and people engaged in the recall. However, during the recall election of 2012, Gov. Walker won more of the vote than he did in the gubernatorial election of 2010.

There’s another example from this past election: The Affordable Care Act. Otherwise, known as “ObamaCare.” In March 2012, when the Supreme Court heard the arguments for the case, Karl Rove wrote in the Wall Street Journal:

This week’s historic Supreme Court hearings on President Obama’s health-care overhaul will have huge political ramifications.

Then, in June, when the decision was rendered, there was this from The Weekly Standard:

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the constitutionality of Obamacare, the principal choice now facing Americans on November 6 will be whether to keep Obamacare or to repeal it.

Republicans and conservatives thought that ObamaCare was going to give them the chance they needed to have a Republican elected President. It’s safe to say that it didn’t turn out the way they wanted. Not only did Republicans not elect a Republican President, but they also lost seats in the Senate (when they anticipated winning more seats).

Neither of these examples perfectly map onto the VRA decision, but it seems to me that there’s a bit of an overreaction in assuming that this decision is going to be a lightning rod for Democrats. I’d say that it’s “too early to tell” how this will affect the upcoming 2014 and 2016 elections. For now, the one of the only things that can be said about the political implications of the VRA: We’ll see…

Should We Have Seen This Coming?

While history is made everyday, in the , there was at least a bit of foreshadowing. During these elections, the was the highest it has been since 1938 – when FDR was President. Much of the ink printed around the midterm elections was focused on the prospects of . While that is also an important issue, the pressing matter of today seems to be what is happening in Wisconsin and whether or not it will happen in other states like Ohio, New Jersey, Florida, and Michigan.

I remember when the numbers were rolling in, and the state legislatures began to flip (from Democrat to Republican) such that , that it may prove to be ominous. While I may have thought it to be a foreshadowing of things to come, never could I have predicted (nor do I think others could have) the . Not to mention the kind of national spotlight that has been thrust upon the issue(s) at hand.

I’m wondering, though, if the political arena should have seen this coming when all the state legislatures flipped in November (of 2010)? Like I said, in my non-exhaustive search, I didn’t find anyone predicting it and I suppose you really can’t blame anyone for not predicting it. Who could have, given the data at hand? Nonetheless, it’s quite breathtaking to flip on the TV and see thousands of people gathering together for what they believe.

During my time as an undergraduate, I had a with what it takes to hold and organize a rally at a state legislature. From this experience, I can say that what is happening in Wisconsin is truly remarkable. I was only involved in a rally of about 1000 people for a few hours — these people have sustained protests of more than 50,000 people for nearly two weeks.

While someone, somewhere, may claim to have been able to predict what the Wisconsin State Legislature is doing, I would be highly suspicious of someone claiming to have been able to predict the public opposition in the way of . Citizens have voiced their opinions on issues before, but never in my lifetime have I seen it happen like this. The most interesting thing to me is the context for which this is happening.

I’ve talked about some of the recent world events and how that ,  but I think the protests in Wisconsin may not be happening the way they are if there weren’t already the massive protests in Tunisia and Egypt. The fair majority of Americans stay current in the way of the news of the day and because of technology, the news of the day is something that can become the news of this minute or the news of this second. I think with Americans being exposed to the possibility of protests and more importantly, protests working, it might have given hope or purpose to those in Wisconsin who saw fit to stand for what they believe in.