Tag Archives: political parties

Why This Black Man Doesn’t Like the Voting Rights Act

In my series from a while back, THE TERRIBLE TWO PARTY SYSTEM, I argued that proportional representation, rather than what we have now,which depends on majoritarianism. Majoritarianism, in terms of race relations, can be haphazardous. In fact, this, along with the prevailing identity politics of the day, along with the economics of elections (only the richest prevail in primaries), means a system dedicated to the exclusion of the poor and the oppressed, no matter what race or ethnicity. Thus, what happens is that certain groups, in majoritarian democracies such as the United States receive over-representation, while leaving the minority begging for scraps.

This is exactly what happens with majority-minority districts, as created by the regularly renewed Voting Rights Acts of 1965. Originally, the VRA was designed to ensure disenfranchised persons access to the ballot as well as representation. Consequently what has happened is that African Americans, Hispanics, and other racial minorities have their political fates determined, as communities, by the process of re-districting. In the United States, in each state legislature, no one party cannot be said to be guilty of gerry-mandering. Gerry-mandering is the norm, make no mistake about it, even if we discuss re-districting in terms of individual candidates and how “liberal this district was” etc.

As recent as last year, the Supreme Court of The United States upheld Section 5 of the VRA, requiring districts with histories of discrimination to request permission from the federal government to change their procedure. This clause, for me atleast, is problematic for a couple of reasons, if you jump over the race issue for a second, the idea that each state has different barriers for ballot access in the first place, rather than one national policy is problematic. This is the primary hurdle for third party candidates, and the restrictions of free speech in recent campaign finance reform, like McCain-Feingold actually add to the burden of those persons who reject the duo-poly of power held by the DummoCrats and Repukeicants.

Now, according to Politico, the states are once more challenging Section 5, yes yes, Amendment 10, we know, same argument. Nothing new. Rather then go through all of this bureaucratic tape, it would be better to revise the Voting Rights act to reform the U.S. into a proportional representation system, with a constitutional amendment ridding ourselves of the Electoral College, and installing the Speaker of the House as the head of state on all domestic matters. All of this red tape leads to more losses on the part of tax dollars (to defend a law that could be so easily changed); this way we will have LESS off a problem of identity politics and charges of racism throughout primaries and redistricting efforts. The VRA should be considered offensive because it takes power out of the hands of individuals and restricts our choices for representation (at both the state and federal level).

Power to the People!

The latest subtitle

Last night, I could not get to sleep and so I was reading a couple of biblioblogs and I came across a name that I had not ran into in years: Abraham Kuyper.  I remember first reading hisLectures on Calvinism the Christmas break of my senior year, 2004ish I believe.  Although it was a lecture on Calvinist religion, it also was an articulation of the theological background behind Kuyper’s Anti-Revolutionary [re: the French Revolution] politics and Party.  Something must be said and admired for theologians who are engaged in public; on a comparable level, at one point Reinhold Niebuhr ran for office.  I opened up for the first time in a long while Vincent Bacote’s The Spirit in Public Theology: Appropriating the Legacy of Abraham Kuyper and started to remember all that I read in Lectures.  Not only was Kuyper’s theology opposed to the secularism of the French Revolution, but also Anabaptist politics  particularly because there was seen as a radical difference between the church and the world.  At one point, Bacote even argues that Kuyper’s politics cannot be considered “Constantinian” [in a polemical sense, the idea that the church fell because it came to power under the Emperor Constantine] (page 71).  His claim is that the church became paganized rather than vice versa, but since I do not share that understanding of Constantine, I share the views of John Howard Yoder primarily, which argued that the underlying premise of “Constantinian” politics is that Christians have an obligation to participate in society, and that withdrawal is considered to not be a valid alternative.  In this light, Kuyper’s political theology and practices are very much so “Constantinian.”

As I was reading Bacote’s work again, I came to a strange conclusion, but not totally off base. Abraham Kuyper’s religious politics sounded very similar to President Woodrow Wilson, a contemporary of Kuyper here in the U.S.A. as well as a member of the Reformed Christian tradition.  Political ideas such as the inevitability of progress, the notion that God NEEDED a select few human beings to serve as mediators of God’s sovereignty, as well as the Christianization of the world approach (late 19th and early 20th century internationalism) were shared by both, and one cannot forget the influence Kuyper’s ideas had on the the politics of the Boers during South African apartheid or the fact that Woodrow Wilson was responsible for further segregating Washington D.C. during his presidency.  Is this just a conspiracy theory?  Consider this: Woodrow Wilson became a member of Princeton’s faculty in 1890. Kuyper gave his Lectures in 1898, 4 years before Wilson would become president of Princeton University. Not so far fetched to see that Woodrow Wilson was influenced by Kuyper’s ideas.

Thus, the new subtitle of this blog. 🙂