Missoula One of the best lines in the great movie, The Outlaw Josie Wales, occurs when Clint Eastwood as Wales turns to Sandra Locke, the young woman, also his paramour at the time, and says, “is that what they teach young girls in Kansas.” I’ve always thought that has to be one of the more unique pickup lines ever, but these days we all have to wonder what they teach anyone, especially in civics classes, in Kansas. I have trouble blaming it all on the Kansas school system though since the real spit-stirrer in this anti-democratic mess is manipulative, self-servicing, and scheming Kris Kobach, who may have started school in Kansas but also counts Harvard, Oxford, and Yale Law School on his educational resume before he set out to destroy any semblance of democracy in Kansas and anywhere else with a mind for mess.
I’ve had my eye on this dude for a couple of years ever since I read – and saved, ok! – an article from the May 29, 2009 edition of the Salina, Kansas paper headlined, “ACORN Prompts Kobach to Run” in which some yahoo said he was running for Secretary of State in this fair state because of ACORN (http://www.saljournal.com/news/story/kobach-5-28-2009). He was fired up that ACORN might topple the pillars of Kansas democracy through its organizing and voter registration work, and by god he was going to stop it by requiring birth certificates to be able to register to vote and then photo IDs to be able to vote. I thought this was perversely hilarious, since I knew that when I left ACORN in mid-2008, almost three years ago, that ACORN was almost weaker than water in the state, and the ace reporter of the Salina Journal, couldn’t resist inserting in this crazy article that ACORN’s three offices in Kansas showed now email addresses on the ACORN website or working phones in May 2009, as Kobach saddled up to stop this Red menace.
I was wrong. This guy was not just a cynical, prairie whack. He was really a dangerous threat to democracy. Having crawled on the dead body of ACORN to get elected, he has been a scourge to immigrants assisting in writing and promoting SB1090 the unconstitutional anti-immigrant bill in Arizona that has been copycatted in other states, and as frighteningly he has made good on his voter suppression promise and gotten a bill passed in Kansas that is also being copied widely to prevent as many lower income voters as possible from being able to participate in any pretense at democracy that we have left in America.
A New York Times editorial quoted the Brennan Center and didn’t play around:
A survey by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law found that 11 percent of citizens, 21 Bmillion people, do not have a current photo ID. That fraction increases to 15 percent of low-income voting-age citizens, 18 percent of young eligible voters and 25 percent of black eligible voters. Those demographic groups tend to vote Democratic, and Republicans are imposing requirements that they know many will be unable to meet.
In Kansas alone, “…because of that vast threat to Kansas democracy, an estimated 620,000 Kansas residents who lack a government ID now stand to lose their right to vote,”
according to the Times.
Eight states have some form of voter ID requirements, which amount of little more than harassment, though not surprisingly some of them have been upheld on Supreme Court challenges. Another thirty states are proposing voter suppression, and given the number of states that Republican forces now control, this is big fat trouble for democracy. Remember the earlier poll numbers. Knockout 21,000,000 people and 15% of the lower income voting population, and that might be the margin in some places especially as I commented a couple of days ago given the limp efforts at voter registration and GOTV among these populations and the effective intimidation that the Republican hate machines have directed at various organizations and their likely donors.
This is really evil stuff! More than tornadoes are coming out of Kansas and it’s really not about the children left behind in their schools, but about the people in the way of the right. It won’t get better, until we get busy.