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Voter access demagoguery displays LA's backwardness

Most Louisianans missed the dramatic transformation that occurred yesterday in a tiny segment of Baton Rouge, a time vortex that flung the state back about 50 years forming in the John Hainkel Committee Room at the Louisiana Capitol, where the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee met to deal with a monstrous problem threatening our democracy.

Leading state luminaries such as Senate President Pro Tem Diana Bajoie, state Sen. Cleo Fields and state Rep. Cedric Richmond delivered powerful oratory, arguing how the Legislature could strike a blow against a massive disenfranchisement of voters and how it could protect liberty and democracy. Alongside them, the beatific Rev. Jesse Jackson added his hosannas, reminding everybody on numerous occasions that “The ‘whereas’ and ‘therefore’ do not correspond.”

What did they aim their righteous indignation against, leading them to recount stories of decades ago of the civil rights movement which they said were directly applicable today? What horrible things are going on in Louisiana democracy equivalent to poll taxes, literacy tests, and the symbolic letting police dogs loose to terrorize? Well, the facts that the state requires people voting absentee to first have to request a ballot before getting such ballot, and that the state has not set up out-of-state satellite voting.

Never mind that the absentee process never has been questioned before by these charlatans or by anybody else as unfair or even burdensome. Never mind that the establishment of out-of-state satellite voting who come at tremendous cost with tremendous complexity that could never be administered in a way that would not be a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause. Their exhortations were perhaps the most exemplary form of simple political demagoguery, devoid of both fact and logic that this state has seen since Longites held sway.

Just to give one example, when Louisiana Republican Party Treasurer Charlie Buckels, testifying as a private citizen, suggested that the solution to overcoming barriers of ballot access was as simple as contacting by phone, Internet, or any other convenient way the secretary of state’s office and then affixing a 39 cent stamp onto an envelope to make the request and/or to cast a vote, that speaker after speaker following not only called this flat wrong, they expressed outrage and offense that he would suggest people should follow an easy process never before the subject of controversy.

It’s indicative of the immaturity that these people have regarding their abilities to provide leadership for the state in a time it desperately needs it, that their whole political worldview is based upon a Louisiana that existed half a century ago, a prism through which they see all politics and from which they cannot break free no matter how contrary it is to today’s real world. Notice it also makes them sound (if they aren’t already) stupid: basically, they are arguing that the absentee ballot access law needs to be changed because displaced people are too stupid (as some of them actually testified they or their families were) to understand and follow this law even as others (students, military, and travelers) have done so successfully for decades.

Is it any wonder, with “leadership” like this, which re-fights old battles long won and is devoid of any progressive ideas to move the state forward, that Louisiana brings up the rear in so many economic and social categories in America, and is the laughingstock of the country?

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