Helena Coming back on the grid for a day, you go through your email, answer the urgent calls, see what’s tweeting, hit the Facebook, and scan through the headlines in the New York Times and other papers to see what’s up. The last is the least rewarding task sometimes.
An irresistible headline jumps up on an editorial: “A Welfare Check and a Voting Card.” That’s a verse in my song, so I jump to that. Big mistake!
The good news is that the Obama Administration after delays dating virtually back to the passage of the National Voter Registration Action (NVRA) in 1993 is clearly issuing regulations to the states and making mandatory the so-called “motor voter” provisions that would require registration access and assistance for recipients of welfare and food stamps by government workers who work with these eligible families. That indeed is cause for celebration by all who are committed to democracy, full participation of the poor in what I have called “maximum eligible participation,” and, frankly, just plain following the law.
The Times editorialist was both wrongheaded and mean-spirited.
In the second sentence comes the first backhanded slap: “…but it could also reduce the impact of advocacy organizations whose role in registering voters caused such a furor in 2008.” WTF? Buddy, you want to reduce the impact of groups committed to full democratic participation by all Americans, then stand up with the Times for automatic registration or even better mandatory voting, don’t blame those of us committed to democracy for the fact that the government didn’t do what the law both allowed and required. Jerk-ball!
But, it gets worse. Later the editorialist offers this gem: “But it is worth remembering that the recession has brought millions of new people to food stamp and other welfare offices in the last two years, many of whom may not be traditional Democrats. In addition, government offices are much more likely to provide reliable registrations than Acorn (sic ACORN) or other advocacy groups that were widely accused of fraudulent sign-ups in the last cycle. Welfare offices generally have extensive methods of verifying identities in order to provide benefits, and it is illegal to provide false records there.
Let me try and understand the perverted logic here. Perhaps the writer would hope that you believe that the recession has had the salutary benefit in our democracy of pushing a more deserving class of the poor into government offices s/he would have us believe, and in fact it might not be a partisan group, as if the poor are somehow political and politically active. If the editorialist read their own paper they might have gotten the news that many of those pushed back were the marginally employed who had been pushed into lower wage employment by the draconian pushbacks in welfare and food stamps over the last decade and the total disinterest in government in security full participation from people eligible for any of these entitlement programs.
And, hey, correct me if I’m wrong, but where do you get off a cheap shot, low blow rehash of the Republican National Committee press briefings to simply take a cut with the “likely to prove reliable registrations than ACORN or other advocacy groups that were widely accused of fraudulent sign-ups in the last cycle.” Prove any of that anywhere, pal, or are you just drinking the partisan Kool-Aid, where a smear is as good as it gets. Luckily for this joker, Times editorialist in their anonymous bunker never have to face any accountability for their smears, innuendo, and misstatements.
Finally in a last act of total hypocrisy the writer tries for an upbeat note by using the example of Ohio and Missouri in recent years where suits by what he calls “advocacy groups” forced the law to be obeyed and hundreds of thousands came on the rolls. Please chicken hearted writer, don’t actually say that these “good” advocacy groups were included in the first order both ACORN and Project Vote, since you have just bitch slapped both of them all the way through this piffle.
At the end we agree though: “The more people who have access to the ballot, the better the country will be.” The difference is that I really believe in this – as do these constantly maligned advocacy groups – and our friend with his nose in the air was really holing his nose all the way as he typed out this piece.
I can’t tell you how nice it is to now be getting ready to head south and stop for two days at the famous (within a small circle of friends) Sleepy Time Duck Camp miles off the highway, way off the internet grid, overlooking a view of the Red Rock Lakes in the Centennial Mountains, the only north-south range in the Rockies at the border of Montana and Idaho. 12 hours up in the “real world” and I’m ready for the much more real world looking eye to eye with a bull moose or fat brown trout again before slapping leather home again.