Do Conservatives Care About Black People?

By Charles Cullen

kanye-west-michael-myers-george-bush-dont-like-black-peopleFebruary 27 – Many will remember Kanye West’s live television outburst in which he noted that “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people.” I remember it fondly because it’s the most uncomfortable anyone has ever seen comedian Mike Myers. Go ahead, look up the youtube clip and marvel at the absolute shock on his face. You’ll get a kick out of it, it’ll cheer you up, and it’ll help keep your mind off the depressing fact that conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justices seem determined to show us just how little they care about African Americans, or, for that matter, minorities in general.

Specifically, they don’t care about minority’s ability to vote without having to avoid road blocks set up by the state in which they are trying to exercise their constitutionally protected right to make themselves heard at the polls.

If recent Oral Argument is any guide, the conservatives on the bench have had it up to here with Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. This, if you haven’t been paying attention, is the section that requires certain states to “pre-clear” certain changes to state voting law with the federal government. You might think that seems a bit unfair to those states effected by the Act…until you remember why those states were singled out for review. Here’s a hint: it wasn’t because they were trying to make voting easier for minorities. Luckily, we have a great corollary for this—people convicted of crimes. Someone finishing up a stint for robbing a bank will usually have to subject themselves to different constraints than someone tagged with a child molestation conviction.

Why is that the case? Well, it’s the case because we don’t want people falling back into the same criminal patterns, becoming a victim of their own specific set of skills as it were, and we believe that we can accomplish this goal by making specific rehabilitation a part of someone’s post-incarceration life. If you were convicted of an alcohol or drug related offense, you may have to see a counsellor or participate in a rehabilitation program as a condition of your release. If you exposed yourself at a playground, you will probably be asked to avoid frequenting playgrounds.

This, essentially, is what Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act does. It singles out the worst offenders in terms of the intentional targeting and blocking of minority voting, and seeks, through federal oversight, to make sure that these states aren’t falling back into their old ways.

The key to understanding our handling of “at risk” states is remembering that they are still offending. An overwhelmingly disproportionate number of successful voting rights suits originate in states targeted by Section 5. They need the semi-adult supervision of the federal government.

We, as a nation, have long enjoyed taking state problems and behaviors on a sort of case by legislative case basis. In fact I think they may even have made a critically acclaimed movie about it. The Republican President in that movie was, in many ways, courageously on the right side of history. And, if I had to hazard a guess, would look upon this version of the Republican party with a mix of confusion and disgust.

Charles Cullen is a Blogging While Blue contributer and reguraly posts on