WASHINGTON — Last week, some 20,000 people gathered on the National Mall to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1963 speech at the march on Washington.
It wasn’t a tribute devoid of any political messages, however.
Instead it resembled the undercard at the last Democratic National Convention with speakers playing up different racial and non-racial grievances, unfortunately overshadowing the praise of King’s efforts during the Civil Rights Era. One of the topics that came up repeatedly were the passage of laws by different states requiring identification at the polling place in order to vote.
“I believe we all know how Dr. King would have reacted to the new ID requirements to exclude certain voters, especially African Americans,” former President Jimmy Carter said at the event.
“A great democracy does not make it harder to vote than to buy an assault weapon,” former President Bill Clinton said at the event as well.
Opponents of voter identification laws, like the one set to take effect in Alabama next year, argue voting is a right and that since it is a right, efforts like limited voting hours and applying photo identification requirements are efforts to suppress the free exercise of that right.
To be sure, voting is not necessarily a “right” explicitly stated in the U.S. Constitution. Voting is referenced in the 14th, 15th, 19th, 23rd, 24th and 26th Amendments, but nowhere is it stated each individual is guaranteed the right to vote. The interpretation of voting as a “right” has been determined through the amendment process and different Supreme Court decisions over the United States’ 237-year history.
One of those Supreme Court decisions came in 2008, when the court upheld Indiana’s voter identification requirements in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board. The decision rejected arguments that voter identification laws infringe on the voting rights of the elderly, poor and minorities because those groups were less likely to have photo identification.
Yet, attacking those laws as racist is still a hobbyhorse of the race grievance industry led by Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Julian Bond, etc.
Nearly two years after King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, he led another historic act — the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery. It took three tries, the first of which on March 7, 1965, was thwarted at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma by local authorities armed with billy clubs and tear gas and was later known as “Bloody Sunday.”
Finally on March 16, 1965, nine days after “Bloody Sunday,” King led 300 marchers on a 54-mile trek down U.S. Highway 80 in somewhat unfavorable rainy conditions from Selma to Montgomery. Although the marchers required U.S. Army, the Alabama National Guard, the FBI and federal marshals to complete the journey, they did so passing through the hostile surroundings of Lowndes County, camping in the mud and rain and not knowing if a member of the Ku Klux Klan was going to attempt to take a shot at them.
In 2013, with that historic backdrop, so-called civil rights leaders would have you believe going to the Department of Motor Vehicles to obtain photo identification is just a bridge too far to cross when King, Fred Shuttlesworth and others risked their lives to take a stand.
The ease of obtaining identification is often missed by members of the media within the Acela corridor — whose lack of geographic perspective seem to envision the rural South as being like Siberia, a wilderness in which primitive methods of transportation are required for those to find the nearest Department of Motor Vehicles.
For the sake of argument, let’s apply the same standard for voting rights that those who oppose photo identification at the ballot box to another “right,” one that is explicitly stated in the U.S. Constitution — the right to “keep and bear arms” in the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights.
Yes, Americans are required to show identification to buy Sudafed, board an airplane, write a check or drive an automobile…. But gun ownership is a right! By the standards applied by voter ID opponents, gun license requirements infringe on very basic Second Amendment rights. But, does anyone really want the populace armed without at least some minimal skills regarding gun safety? Not even the most zealous voices within the National Rifle Association are arguing for that, nor would any of those arguing arguing against voter photo identification on steps of the Lincoln Memorial last week.
The modern-day Democratic Party seems to be trapped in the past when it comes to the voter identification issue. No longer are people tethered to their farms, with civilization only accessible by a horse-drawn buggy. It’s either that or, more cynically, a grievance for Democratic politicians to use on the stump in order to motivate those who they want to perceive themselves as victims for votes.
Those arguing against this won’t quietly go away. Although the Supreme Court has spoken on two fronts of voter identification in overruling Section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and in the aforementioned Crawford v. Marion County Election Board decision, it’s still going to be trotted out as an injustice by even the elder statesmen of the modern Democratic Party.
As long as that is the case, the victim mentality will be encouraged. And that will come at the expense of diminishing Martin Luther King, Jr.’s efforts to fulfill his dream.